Glossary of Terms Used In Making Wine and Spirits


Term used to describe a wine that has virtually become vinegar -which is acetic acid.


Type of bacteria, which is a potential danger to wine, because the enzymes it contains work in the ethyl alcohol of a wine and change it into vinegar acetic acid.


Portuguese word, signifying the winery up country – in reference to port – where the wine is first made.


Red wine grape used in southern Italy. It is said to have come from Greece (like the white grape, Greco). In Campania, the main regions of production appear to be around Formia, Irpinia, Vesuvius and the islands of Capri and Ischia.


The clamp that fits over the top of the cork and fastens below the lip of bottles of sparkling wine to hold on the cork in wines made by the Champagne method before they receive their second cork, if a crown cork is not used. It may remain as the only fastening of the cork in certain other sparkling wines that are sold without being twice corked.


Spanish for ‘spirit’.


Wine region in the north-west of Germany, where both red and white wines are made, rather more of red. They do not, however, attain more than pleasant everyday quality and, as they are seldom available outside Germany, they are interesting wines to try on their home ground.


French liqueur, supposed to be made from SO different herbs, available in both green and yellow. Made by Trappist monks, it was first sold in the 19th century.


The vineyards in this southern part of France make red, white and pink wines, some of pleasant quality, often sold as Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.


White wine of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It is made from the grape of the same name and is usually slightly luscious and full in character, although its actual sweetness can vary. There are dry Albanos which are perfectly acceptable with meat and fish, as well as sweeter ones which are more in the nature of dessert wines.


Literally ‘white alcohol’, so-called because the liqueurs made are kept in glass, not wood, and therefore gain no colour during the process of maturation. They are usually simply distilled from fruit and not sweetened or otherwise flavoured, so that the flavour of the fruit is pronounced. In Alsace and some of the other regions where they are made, it is traditional to serve them in a medium-sized glass, previously filled with lumps of ice, which are swirled round to chill it: then, when the ice is tipped out, the-fruit brandy is poured in. and the bouquet is released from the chilled glass – exactly the reverse of what happens in the service of Cognac or Armagnac. A fruit brandy is. in fact, only a liqueur in general sense – it is really a brandy. It is usually a good digestive.

Some of the best known are: kirsch (from cherries), framboise (raspberries), fraise (strawberries), myrtille (bilberries), mirabelle (small golden plums), quetsch (Switzen plum), prunelle sauvage (sloe), poire


Williams (William pear), houx (holly berry), coing (quince), alisier (rowanberry). cumin (cummin), and tutti frutti (a mixture of fruits). There are. of course, different names for the same liqueurs in different countries: slivovitz is a Yugoslavian or Romanian plum brandy, himbeergeist is a German or Swiss raspberry brandy. The method by which these are made varies slightly, some being made by distillation of the fruit mash, others by maceration of the fruit in alcohol and the distillation of the result.


Alexis Lichine defines the aldehydes as ‘a halfway step’ between alcohols and acids and are formed by the oxidation of alcohols’. I cannot improve on this except to say that, for the lay drinker, it is really only important to know that aldehydes are one of the important components of wine – unless you are a chemist who will understand the technicalities anyway.

Aleatico di Portoferraio

Sweetish, deep coloured wine from Elba made from a type of Muscat grape, here having the same name as the wine. It is reputed to be high in iron and therefore a type of tonic.


Region in the Catalonian area of Spain, producing white and red wines.

Alexander Valley

Region in Sonoma, California, U.S., where there are a number of wineries.


A grape developed for high yield, making rather undistinguished red wines in the French Midi and some parts of California.


(Pronounced ‘al-ly-got-ty’) White grape, used in Burgundy for the less expensive white wines, to which it gives its name. It makes pleasant, slightly tough, dryish wines, but nothing of fine quality. It is a very good ‘casual’ wine and, from a good producer, can these days achieve moderate to good quality. Traditionally it is the white wine base of the Burgundian drink kir.

All Saints

An Australian vineyard, near Rutherglen, between New South Wales and Victoria, concentrating on the production of dessert and fortified wines. It is owned by a religious community.

Allasch, alasch

Type of kummel. taking its name from Allasch, near Riga in the U.S.S.R., which was known for caraway seeds.

Allen, H.Warner C.B.E. (1881-1968)

An important wine writer whose work seems now to be almost ignored, but who does not deserve this neglect. He was a classical scholar at Oxford and gained an extensive knowledge of wine while he was for ten years Paris correspondent of The Morning Post. He spent some years working with the historic wine merchants in St James’s, Berry Bros & Rudd. and wrote an account of the firm. His numerous books on the main wines of Europe and his historical accounts of the evolution of certain wines and their place in the writings of the ancients are all extremely readable, although he was of a time when graceful, sometimes ornate prose was in fashion, so that he has gained a somewhat undeserved reputation for ‘purple passages’. In fact he is very easy to read. In person, he was a wholly delightful and approachable man. with great sensitiveness – he was a mystic and wrote about this as well, collaborated with E.C. Bentley in a detective story and to the end of his life remained alert and interested in everything around him.


One of the fine wine estates in the Malmesbury region at the Cape, in South Africa. It gets its name because, in the late 18th century, the owners regularly drove to church in Stellenbosch, many hours away and, during one such absence, the local bushmen raided and destroyed the house and outbuildings. The returning family could only say ‘All is lost’ (All es verloren). In the present century, the future Prime Minister, Dr D.F. Malan, was born there. Among the range currently made is a fine port style wine.

Allt a’Bhainne

(Pronounced’ Alter-vane’ stressing ‘vane’) The new Dufftown whisky distillery, built by Chivas Bros.


California wine producer on a large scale. The first plantings were made in 1852 at Los Gatos in the Santa Clara Valley, but Almaden’s holdings are now extensive and about half of them are in the Gavilan Mountains in San Benito. A very wide range of wines, red. white, rose, dessert wines and sparkling wines is made, the latter undergoing fermentation in bottle. There are also a number of jug wines. For the table wines, many classic wine grapes are used, plus the Zinfandel. Some wines are estate-bottled and dated for their vintage. 


(Pronounced ‘Al-oss’) Parish in the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, making mostly red wines, but including part of the great Corton-Charlemagne white wine vineyard.


German liqueur, based on alpine herbs and roots, also incorporating wormwood. Brownish or yellow-green in colour and fairly high in strength.

Altar wine

Used for Holy Communion, this must be pure and unadulterated natural (table) wine, but both the Roman and Anglican churches sanction the use of either red or white.


Estate in the Stellenbosch area of the Cape, South Africa, originally part of a larger property. Its situation, on the slopes of the Helderberg, caused its owner to name it Alto, after the mountains. Although the overall vineyard had been cultivated since the 17th century, serious wine production was only started with the division of the estate in the 1920s. Alto became well known for its red wines, started by the first owner, Hennie Malan. The Alto Rouge of today is made in virtually the same way and with the same proportions of grape varieties as at the outset, so adroit was Malan’s skill. Interesting experiments with other grapes and with straight grape varieties have been started and the estate maintains its high reputation.

Alto Adige

 (Pronounced ‘Ahl-to Ad-di-jee’ stress the initial syllables) Vine­yard region of northern Italy, usually combined with that of the adjacent Trentino. The Alto Adige is sometimes referred to as the Sud Tirol. Some of the best known come from Terlano, north of Bolzano. Terlano wine itself is traditionally a mixture of Pinot Blanc, two forms of Riesling, Sauvignon and Sylvaner. Some wines are marketed under the names of the particular grapes making them – e.g. Terlano Riesling Italico. The wines, ranging from crisp and dry to delicately sweet, are of a high quality. An unusual black grape is the Lagrein. A local red wine is the Grauvernatsch.


Grape of Portuguese origin, used for some U.S. dessert wines.

Amaretto di Saronno

Very popular fruit liqueur – at one time top in Italy and third in popularity in the U.S. – this is made at Saronno, near Lake Como, by the Reina family. Its origin is supposed to be in 1525, when the painter, Bernardino Luini, was commissioned to paint frescoes on the local shrine of Our Lady of the Miracles. Luini took as his model for the Madonna the young widow running the local inn and she was so delighted with her picture that she made the artist a Christmas Eve gift of a drink using the almonds and apricots from her garden with brandy.


The full name of this Italian red wine is properly Valpolicella Recioto Amarone and it comes from the Verona region. Amarone is a very big, full wine, of a colour that some writers describe as ‘garnet red’.


One of the villages of the Montagne de Reims in Champagne, where still red Coteaux Champenois wine is made.

Amer Picon

Bitters, invented by a distiller in the French army in Algeria in 1835. Pinkish-red, slightly orange-flavoured, drunk as an aperitif or digestive.

07. October 2013 by admin
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