* Appellation controlee: conforms to French Government’s requirements as to quality, area of origin and specific grapes used.
Brut: Unsweetened, as applied to very dry Champagne or other sparkling wines (See also Extra Sec).
Chambrer: To bring wine to room temperature.
Clos: Enclosure (particularly the once walled in vineyards of Burgundy).
Cru: Growth — the wine from a single vineyard.
Premier cru: First growth — the finest wine of its.
Cru bourgeois: Attractive and reasonably-priced wines from unclassified single Bordeaux vineyards.
Cuvee: From one vat.
Premiere cuvee: first and best pressing of the grapes.
Domaine: Property (used in Burgundy; chateau used in Bordeaux).
Doux: Soft, sweet — particularly a sweet Champagne.
Extra Sec: Dry, but less dry than Brut. (See also Sec, Demi-sec).
Grande marque: Traditional term indicating top-quality Champagne (Champagnes are known by the names of the Houses producing them).
Methode champenoise: Sparkling produced by the Champagne method.
*Mise en bouteille au chateau: Wine bottled by chateau-owner (name of chateau and, usually, vintage date will be stamped on cork).
Nature: Wine to which no sugar has been added.
Petillant: Slightly sparkling.
Sec: Medium dry (Demi-sec: Rather sweet).
Sommelier: A waiter who advises on and serves wines and spirits (usually wears a badge of a bunch of grapes).
Vendange: Vintage — a vintage wine bearing a year was made from grapes gathered in that year.
Non-vintage (or NV) is a blend of wines made in different years which were of consistent quality.
*VDQS: Indicates a wine recognized to be of superior quality. One grade lower than Appellation controlee. (Vin delimite de qualite superieur.)
Vin ordinaire: Ordinary, cheap wine for everyday drinking.
These tend to be of unwieldy length, but there are certain words which will help the buyer to choose (Estate bottled means what it says — the same thing as chateau-bottled in the French terms):
Abfiillung: Bottled by.
Auslese: High-class wine from specially-selected mature grapes.
Beerenauslese: Rare, high-class wine from grapes picked almost individually, after they have been left on the vines until they are like raisins and their sugar concentration is at its highest.
Feine, Feinste, Hochfein: Fine/finest.
Kabinett: High-class wine.
Kellar-Abzug: Cellar-bottled (by wine merchant).
*Originalabfullung: Bottled by grower at place of production.
Qualitatswein mit Pradikat: Wine of highest class.
Qualitatswein: Wine from a defined region and of tested quality.
Tafelwein: Light home-grown wine of minimum alcoholic strength.
Schloss-Abzug: Castle-bottled (by wine merchant).
Spdtlese: Wine made from grapes picked late in mature condition.
Spritzig: Slightly sparkling.
Abboccato: Sweet white wine.
Bianco: (in Spanish Blanco): White.
Rosso: (in Spanish Tinto): Red.
Dolce (in Spanish Dulce): Sweet.
Rosato (in Spanish Rosado): Pink (Rose).
Secco (in Spanish Seco): Dry.
Bouquet (or Nose): Aroma.
Body: The dissolved particles in the wine, giving it its full, rounded taste.
Clean: A pure wine with no unpleasant taste.
Must: Unfermented grape juice, immediately after pressing.
Vintage/Non-vintage: See French terms.
Reserve/Special reserve: High-quality wines specially set aside by the estate for this description — means, roughly, the best of the best.
Well-balanced: A wine with good equilibrium between aroma and taste.
Note: The terms marked * are well worth memorizing.
Appellation controlee and VDQS will ensure a good, reasonably priced wine.
Mise en bouteille (or Mise du Chateau) and Originalabfiillung will guarantee a wine of superlative quality at impressive cost. Italy has yet to come up with anything comparable in these categories, but the name ‘Chianti’ is strictly controlled, so any wine bearing the name is usually of consistently good quality.