Glossary of oenological terms


A slightly sweet wine.

Organic acids

Compounds present in grapes, must and wine. Among the most important are tartaric, malic, citric, lactic, acetic, succinic acids.


Component that substantially influences the flavor of the wine. The optimal level of acidity is decisive in the construction of a wine: too much acid and the wine is too harsh and pungent; too little and it becomes limp and flat.

Fixed acidity

Includes non-volatile organic acids such as tartaric, malic, citric, succinic acids

Total acidity

Made up of fixed and volatile acids present in wine. If it is too low the wine will be flat, if it is too high the wine will be tart and hard.

Volatile acidity

Indicates the set of volatile acids present in wine such as acetic, butyric, formic. It is calculated in g/L of acetic acid.

Acetic acid

It is a volatile acid present in all wines. In small quantities it has a positive effect on the bouquet of the wine; instead the excessive presence of this substance represents a defect because it gives the wine an acetic taste.

Lactic acid

It is the main product of malolactic fermentation in which malic acid, with an acrid and unripe taste, is transformed into lactic acid, more pleasant and round.

Malic acid

Naturally present in grapes. Malic acid is responsible for that strong sour green apple flavor you hear in unripened grapes.

Tartaric acid

It exists naturally in grapes and can be added to wine. It provides the major contribution to the acidity of the wine, especially for the aging potential.


Period of maturation and rest which allows the wine to evolve assuming more complex organoleptic characteristics.


Vine training system that does not require support. Typical of drought areas such as the island of Pantelleria.

Ethyl alcohol

In wine it is produced by the alcoholic fermentation of the sugars present in the must.

Fruit set

Phenological phase of the vine cycle following flowering during which small berries begin to form.


Science that deals with the study, classification, and description of the different varieties of lives.


rich wine, with a full taste and an intense aroma.

Carbon dioxide

(CO2) Gas which is produced in wine during alcoholic fermentation.

Sulfur dioxide

(SO2) Gas obtained from the combustion of sulphur. It can be added or produced naturally by some yeasts. In any case it is present in all wines and has an antiseptic and antioxidant action. The quantity of sulfur dioxide in the wine must not exceed the limits set by law.


Indicates the year in which the grapes were harvested; some synonyms are Millesimo, Vintage, Vendemmia. When it is indicated on the label it means that the wine comes from grapes harvested in the same year.


Organic chemical compounds responsible for the purplish-red color of grapes and wine. They are mainly found in the skin of grapes.


Term used to describe a wine whose organoleptic characteristics are well balanced.


Wine that has marked unmistakable aromatic characteristics deriving from the grape variety itself (aromatic vines: Moscati, Brachetti, Malvasie, Gewurztraminer).


Mixture of several wines to obtain a single cut (synonym: Cuvée).


Feeling lapping due to a high presence of tannins.


Hermetically sealed stainless steel container capable of withstanding high pressure. Used for the production of sparkling wines with the Martinotti-Charmat method.


Preparing the glass for tasting. Pour a small amount of wine into the glass and swirl it, to remove possible odors and flavors previously present.

Barrique (bordeaux)

Oak barrels with a capacity of 225 liters intended for the fermentation and aging of some wines.


Oenological practice with which the lees present on the bottom of a wine vessel are brought back into suspension in order to increase the structure of a wine.

Blanc de Blancs

Literally white for whites, a term used to define sparkling wines produced exclusively from white berried grapes (mainly Chardonnay).

Blanc de Noirs

Literally white from black. The term indicates a white wine obtained from black berried grapes; classic example are the sparkling wines produced with Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier vinified in white.

Botrytis cinerea

Mold which in particular environmental conditions (high humidity) can attack the berries and cause damage; if controlled, it contributes to the creation of unique wines such as the renowned Sauternes.


Set of olfactory perceptions of a wine.


Sparkling wine with sugar content between 6 and 12 g/L.


External layer of the berry mainly composed of cellulose, pectin and polyphenols.


Wooden barrel used for the fermentation and conservation of particular sweet wines, such as Vin Santo.


Denomination adopted by Spain to define sparkling wines produced with the Classic Method.


Cellar operation which consists in the addition of particular substances (clarifiers) which favor the sedimentation of suspended particles, making the wine limpid.


Also known as green pruning, it is an agronomic operation that involves removing the shoots of the plant in order to stop the formation of other flowers and leaves.


Set of weather conditions in a given location measured over several years.


Terms used in some areas (such as Burgundy) to identify particular vineyards surrounded and delimited by walls.

Topping up

Cellar operation which consists in adding wine to the barrel (or other wine vessel) to compensate for evaporation losses. The cask, in fact, must always be full, to avoid an excessive quantity of oxygen coming into contact with the wine.

Complex Term

Indicating a wine in which many families of aromas are found, usually more than three.

Phenolic compounds

Essential constituents of wine, deriving directly from grapes. They include tannins, coloring substances, including anthocyanins, and phenolic acids. They play a fundamental role in determining the color of wines and in some cases also the gustatory aspects, such as astringency for example.

Alcohol content

Alcohol content of the wine.


Term indicating a well-structured wine, rich in alcohol and pleasant on the palate.


Denomination used to indicate French sparkling wines, produced with the Classic Method, coming from certain regions outside Champagne.

Bread crust

Olfactory sensation that is found in certain sparkling wines or white wines that have rested for a long time on the lees.


This term designates a vineyard or well-defined portion of a vineyard, with particular qualitative characteristics.


Blending and blending of base wines of different origins and vintages, with the aim of obtaining a wine with constant characteristics over time.


Process through which the solid components of the wine are deposited on the bottom of the container. It is a process carried out both in the cellar and during service, when the wine is transferred from the bottle to a special container (called a decanter).


Also called disgorgement, it is the operation that allows the yeasts and lees deposited in the neck of the bottle to be expelled following the second fermentation of the Classic Method.


Examination that allows you to analyze and appreciate all the characteristics perceivable through the sensory organs of a food or drink.


Sparkling wine with sugar content higher than 32 g/L, but lower than 50 g/L.


Sediment that wines tend to yield during refinement and maturation.


Operation of removing the stems (woody part of the bunch) from the grapes before crushing.


Wine with a significant amount of sugar, clearly perceptible.


Taste sensation linked to the presence of sugars in the wine.


Wine that has carbon dioxide inside.


Fine wine, of great class and quality.


Science that studies wine and its production techniques.


Wine that has the right balance between hardness and softness.


Taste-olfactory scent linked to the aromas of hay, fresh grass and which can be found in both white and red wines.


Taste-olfactory scent linked to aromas attributable to medicinal herbs, paint, enamel, hydrocarbons; these aromas develop with the evolution of the wine.


Sediment mainly formed by yeasts, bacteria, small parts of the bunch and tartrates, deposited by the musts of young wines in the barrels or tanks before being transferred. If you choose not to remove the lees, these will remain in contact with the must, contributing to giving the wine peculiar organoleptic characteristics.

Alcoholic fermentation

Essential biochemical process for wine production. The sugars contained in the must are transformed into alcohol, by the action of particular yeasts. Carbon dioxide is also produced during alcoholic fermentation.

Malolactic fermentation

Second fermentation which takes place in red wines and sometimes also in white wines. During this fermentation, malic acid is transformed into lactic acid and carbon dioxide, thanks to the action of particular bacteria. The aim is to make the wine softer and more biologically stable.


Parasite of the aphid family that settles on the roots of Vitis vinifera, destroying the root system. Towards the end of the 1800s it saw its appearance in Europe where it destroyed almost the entire wine-growing area. It is fought through the use of the vine rootstock of American origin, resistant to the attacks of the parasite.


Cellar practice which consists in making the wine clearer, making it pass through particular filters.


Descriptive characteristic of a wine that has an elegant and balanced bouquet and taste.


Tall and rather narrow glass, traditionally suitable for tasting sparkling wines.


Cellar practice which consists in sinking the "cap", formed by the marc in suspension, in the fermenting must. This guarantees a greater extraction of the substances present in the pomace and transferable to the must.


Term that indicates a young wine (but not necessarily), pleasant and with marked acidity.


Characteristic of wines that contain carbon dioxide.


Wine rich in aromas and hints that recall fresh fruit, dried fruit, ripe and processed fruit.


Gradation of red colour, tending towards brick colour.


Very widespread vine training system.


Also called Eiswein, it is a wine obtained from grapes harvested during frost and the grapes are also pressed while still frozen. Main production areas: Germany, Austria, Canada.

Olfactory intensity

Impact of all the odor nuances perceived simultaneously.


Decisive shade of color or perfume.


Indicates the phase of the vine cycle in which the skin of the berry begins to change colour; in this phase the sugars increase, while the acids, in particular the malic acid, decrease.


Stage of maturation and refinement of the wine.


Arches, composed of drops, which form inside the glass and are an indication of the alcohol content and consistency of the wine.


Perfume that can be found in some red wines, typically young and quite full-bodied.


Not too alcoholic and not too structured wine.


Wine with evident hints of wood, deriving from the passage in wood during vinification or aging.

Indigenous yeasts

Yeasts naturally present on the skins and in the musts.

Selected yeasts

Yeast strains specially selected to conduct fermentation.


Crisp and transparent wine, without suspended particles.

Liqueur de Tirage

Solution of sugar and active yeasts added to the wine destined to become a sparkling wine, it is precisely the yeasts present in this solution that carry out the second fermentation.

Liqueur d’Expédition

Solution composed mainly of sugar and other secret ingredients, different for each maison, added to the sparkling wine after disgorgement and before final corking.


Wine very rich in alcohol and sugar, deriving from particular winemaking techniques.


Wine whose aromas and taste sensations are very persistent and pleasant.

Carbonic maceration

Vinification method used for the production of particular wines, such as new wines. It consists in keeping the whole grapes in a condition of CO2 saturation, these conditions cause certain biological transformations to take place inside the berry, the result of which will give a fresh and fruity wine.

Skin maceration

Vinification method used for particular white wines. It consists of leaving the grape skins in contact with the must to ensure greater extraction of the varietal aromas contained in the skin.


Wine that has reached the apex of the evolutionary cycle, i.e. the organoleptic balance and is ready to be drunk.

Charmat or Martinotti method

Sparkling wine method which involves the second fermentation in an autoclave, i.e. a watertight container capable of withstanding great pressures.

Classic method or Champenoise

Method of production of sparkling wine which involves the second fermentation in the bottle.


Climatic situation of a vineyard or a very small area, capable of influencing the quality of the grapes produced there and consequently the characteristics of a wine.


Sparkling wine produced with grapes from the same vintage. This vintage is shown on the label.


Wine with remarkable mineral and saline odor and taste sensations, these sensations leave sapidity and freshness in the mouth.


It is said of a wine that is round, velvety, that is, with gustatory and tactile sensations linked to the softness that dominate the hardness.


Product of the pressing or treading of grapes.

Noble Mold

Botrytis cinerea, noble rot that attacks grapes in particular territories with favorable conditions for its development, making it possible to create sweet and unique wines (for example, Sauternes).


Sparkling wine with residual sugar between 0 and 3 g/L, also called Pas dosé.

Powdery mildew

Fungal disease that attacks leaves, shoots and especially the berries. Ideal conditions are temperatures around 20°C and low humidity.


Wine which due to exposure to oxygen is altered in color and aroma and which will therefore take on marsala notes.


Light yellow color reminiscent of straw and hay, typical of young white wines.

Pas Dosé

Sparkling wine with residual sugar between 0 and 3 g/L, also known as Nature.


Scent present in some types of wines, typical of vines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The compounds responsible for this perfume are pyrazines.


Term indicating the presence of carbon dioxide in a sparkling wine; we evaluate the chains of bubbles and the size of the bubbles forming inside the glass.

Downy mildew

Fungal disease that causes drying of leaves and grapes. Conditions that favor the disease are high humidity (rain) and temperatures above 10°C.


French term for a fizzy drink.


Chemical quantity used to indicate the acidity of a wine.


Inner layer of the fruit, in this case of grapes, rich in water, sugars, organic acids and mineral salts.


Red colour, typical of young wines.


Vine branch composed of the root part of the Virginia creeper, resistant to phylloxera and onto which the aerial part of the vitis vinifera is grafted.

Foam taking

In the production of a sparkling wine it is the phase in which the second fermentation takes place.


Cellar operation which consists in pressing the grapes to extract the liquid part (must).


Aromas coming directly from the grape. They are in fact defined as “varietal aromas”.


Wine with optimal characteristics to be consumed at that given moment.