Wine Glossary A-Z

Unlock the secrets of wine terminology in a snap!

Every wine lover should familiarize themselves with these foundational terms to fully appreciate the nuances of wine. These introductory terms lay the groundwork for understanding and discussing wine with confidence.

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Acidity refers to the level of tartness or crispness in the wine. It adds freshness and liveliness to the wine and helps balance its flavors.

Aeration refers to exposing wine to air, either by decanting or swirling it in the glass. It helps the wine breathe, releasing its aromas and softening any harsh or youthful characteristics.

Aging refers to the period during which the wine is stored in barrels, tanks, or bottles before it is released. Aging allows the wine to develop and integrate flavors, soften tannins, and improve overall balance.

Aging on Lees
Aging on lees refers to the practice of leaving the wine in contact with the spent yeast cells (lees) after fermentation. This can add complexity, texture, and aromas to the wine.

Appassimento is a technique used to dry grapes before fermentation, typically done in the production of Amarone wines. Drying concentrates the sugars, flavors, and acidity in the grapes, resulting in rich, full-bodied wines.

Aroma refers to the scents and smells perceived in a wine, often derived from the grape variety and winemaking techniques. It can include fruit, floral, herbal, spice, or earthy notes.


Barbera is a red grape variety widely grown in Italy, particularly in Piedmont. Barbera wines offer vibrant acidity, with flavors of red cherry, plum, and a touch of spice.

Barossa Valley, Australia
Barossa Valley is famous for its bold and full-bodied Shiraz wines. It also produces other varietals such as Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling.

Barrel Aging
Barrel aging involves aging the wine in oak barrels. The oak imparts flavors, such as vanilla, spice, and toast, and allows for controlled oxidation and micro-oxygenation, which can enhance the wine’s complexity.

Blending involves combining wines made from different grape varieties, vineyard sites, or vintages. It allows winemakers to create a desired flavor profile, balance, and complexity in the final wine.

Body refers to the weight, fullness, and viscosity of the wine on the palate. It can range from light-bodied (thin) to medium-bodied to full-bodied (rich and substantial).

Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux is renowned for its prestigious red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends. It is known for its diverse terroir and classification system, producing wines of varying styles and quality.

Botrivier is a small wine region known for its cool climate and boutique wineries. It produces elegant Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc wines.

Bottelary Hills
Bottelary Hills is a sub-region of Stellenbosch, known for its red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It features hilly terrain and diverse soil types.

Bouquet refers to the complex aromas that develop in a wine with age, often resulting from the interaction of the wine with oxygen during aging. It can include secondary and tertiary aromas like nutty, toasty, or developed fruit notes.

Breedekloof is known for its diverse range of wines, including Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, and Pinotage. It is characterized by its mountainous landscapes and Mediterranean climate.

Burgundy, France
Burgundy is famous for its elegant and complex wines, primarily made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is known for its terroir-driven approach and strict quality standards.


Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is a renowned red grape variety known for its deep color, structured tannins, and age-worthy character. South African Cabernet Sauvignon wines offer dark fruit flavors, cassis, and hints of herbs and spice.

Cape Blend
Cape Blend refers to a red wine blend that includes Pinotage, a signature South African grape variety, along with other red grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz/Syrah. It showcases the unique character and terroir of South African winemaking.

Cape Dessert Wine
Cape Dessert Wine refers to a wide range of sweet wines produced in South Africa, including noble late harvest, fortified wines, and natural sweet wines. They offer indulgent sweetness and complex flavor profiles.

Cape Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port
Cape LBV Port is a style of fortified wine made from Portuguese grape varieties. It is aged in oak barrels for an extended period, offering rich and concentrated flavors of dark fruits, caramel, and spices.

Cape MĂ©thode Cap Classique (Sparkling Wine)
Cape Méthode Cap Classique wines are South Africa’s version of traditional method sparkling wines. They undergo a secondary fermentation in the bottle, resulting in fine bubbles and complex flavors.

Cape Muscadel
Cape Muscadel is a fortified sweet wine made from Muscat grape varieties. It showcases rich, aromatic flavors of ripe grapes, floral notes, and hints of spices.

Cape Natural Sweet Wine
Cape Natural Sweet Wine refers to naturally sweet wines made without fortification. These wines retain the natural sweetness of the grapes and often exhibit fruity flavors and floral aromas.

Cape Noble Late Harvest
Cape Noble Late Harvest wines are sweet dessert wines made from grapes that are left on the vine to concentrate sugars and flavors. They exhibit luscious sweetness balanced by acidity, with notes of honey, dried fruits, and botrytis character.

Cape Rosé
Cape Rosé wines are light, refreshing, and often made from red grape varieties. They exhibit vibrant pink hues and offer flavors of fresh berries, citrus, and floral notes.

Cape Ruby Port
Cape Ruby Port is a fortified wine made from traditional Portuguese grape varieties, primarily Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barroca. It showcases rich, sweet flavors of dark fruits, chocolate, and spices.

Cape White Blend
Cape White Blend refers to white wine blends that feature a combination of different grape varieties, showcasing the diversity of South African white wines. It can include grapes such as Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and others.

Carbonation is the process of adding carbon dioxide to a wine to create bubbles. This can be done through natural fermentation in a closed container or by injecting carbon dioxide into the wine.

Carbonic Maceration
Carbonic maceration is a winemaking technique primarily used for producing light, fruity, and low-tannin red wines. Whole grape clusters are fermented in a carbon dioxide-rich environment, promoting fermentation within the intact berries.

Cederberg is a remote wine region located in the Cederberg Mountains. It is known for its unique terroir, producing wines with crisp acidity, minerality, and distinctive mountain character.

Champagne, France
Champagne is synonymous with sparkling wine production. It produces world-class sparkling wines using the traditional method, primarily from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.

Chardonnay is a widely recognized white grape variety known for its versatility. In South Africa, Chardonnay wines can range from crisp and unoaked to full-bodied and oak-aged, exhibiting flavors of citrus, tropical fruits, and buttery notes.

Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is a versatile white grape variety that is widely grown in South Africa. It produces wines ranging from dry to sweet, with flavors of tropical fruits, honey, and floral notes. South Africa is known for producing exceptional Chenin Blanc wines.

Chenin Blanc-SĂ©millon Blend
This is a white wine blend that combines Chenin Blanc with SĂ©millon. It can produce wines with a harmonious balance of acidity, fruitiness, and complexity.

Clarification techniques are used to remove any remaining solids or haze from the wine. This can be done through fining agents, such as bentonite or egg whites, or through natural settling and racking processes.

Colchagua Valley, Chile
Colchagua Valley is recognized for its high-quality red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. It offers a favorable climate for grape cultivation.

Cold Soaking
Cold soaking is a technique where grape must (juice, skins, and seeds) is kept at a low temperature before fermentation. This helps extract color, aroma, and flavor compounds from the skins without initiating fermentation.

One of the oldest wine-producing regions in South Africa, Constantia is famous for its cool climate and historic estates. It is renowned for its world-class Sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux-style red blends.

Corked refers to a wine that has been contaminated with a compound called TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole), resulting in a musty or moldy smell and taste. It is often caused by a faulty cork.

Crushing involves the breaking of grape berries to release the juice and initiate fermentation. This can be done using various methods, including manual crushing, mechanical crushers, or destemming machines.


Darling is known for its cool-climate wines, particularly Sauvignon Blanc and RhĂ´ne-style blends. It is characterized by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and diverse soil types.

Decanting is the process of pouring wine from its bottle into a decanter or another vessel. It helps separate the wine from any sediment, aerates the wine, and allows it to open up and develop its aromas.

Délestage, also known as “rack and return,” is a winemaking technique that involves removing the juice from the fermentation vessel and then pouring it back over the grape skins. This helps enhance color extraction and tannin development.

Douro Valley, Portugal
Douro Valley is the home of Port wine production. It is known for its terraced vineyards and produces fortified wines with rich, complex flavors.

Dry Wine
Dry wine refers to a wine with little to no perceptible sweetness. It is fermented until most of the grape sugars are converted into alcohol.

Durbanville is located close to Cape Town and benefits from cool ocean breezes. It is known for its Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Bordeaux-style red blends.


Elgin is a cool-climate region known for its exceptional white wines, particularly Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Its high-altitude vineyards and unique microclimate contribute to the wines’ freshness and elegance.

Elim is a cool-climate region located near the southernmost tip of Africa. It specializes in Sauvignon Blanc and produces crisp, vibrant wines with distinctive minerality.


Fermentation is the process where yeast consumes the sugars in the grape juice and converts them into alcohol. This process produces heat, carbon dioxide, and various flavor compounds.

Filtration is the process of passing the wine through a filter to remove any solids, yeast, or bacteria that could affect its stability or appearance. It can help clarify the wine and improve its shelf life.

Finish refers to the lingering flavors and sensations that remain on the palate after swallowing or spitting out the wine. A long and pleasant finish is often associated with high-quality wines.

Fortification is the process of adding a distilled spirit, such as brandy, to the wine to increase its alcohol content and stabilize it. This technique is commonly used in the production of fortified wines like Port or Sherry.

Fortified Wine
Fortified wine is a wine that has been fortified with the addition of a distilled spirit, usually brandy. This increases the alcohol content and creates a fortified style of wine, such as Port or Sherry.

Located in a picturesque valley, Franschhoek is known for its boutique wineries and premium quality wines. It specializes in MĂ©thode Cap Classique sparkling wines, Chardonnay, and red blends.


GewĂĽrztraminer is a highly aromatic white grape variety known for its intense floral and spicy aromas. It produces wines with flavors of lychee, rose petal, tropical fruits, and a hint of sweetness.

Grenache, known as Garnacha in Spain, is a red grape variety that produces medium to full-bodied wines. Grenache wines are characterized by flavors of red fruits, spice, and sometimes a subtle earthiness.

GrĂĽner Veltliner
GrĂĽner Veltliner is a white grape variety native to Austria. It produces wines with flavors of green apple, citrus, white pepper, and a characteristic crispness.


Harvesting is the process of picking the grapes from the vineyard when they have reached the desired level of ripeness. Grapes can be harvested by hand or machine.

Hunter Valley, Australia
Hunter Valley is known for its Semillon and Shiraz wines. It has a warm climate and produces wines with distinctive regional character.


Icewine, also known as Eiswein, is made from grapes that are left on the vine and harvested when frozen. The frozen grapes are pressed, and only the concentrated, sweet juice is used to produce a luscious, dessert-style wine.


Klein Karoo
Klein Karoo is a semi-arid region known for its fortified wines, particularly Port-style wines made from Muscat grapes. It also produces dry red and white wines.


Loire Valley, France
Loire Valley is known for its diverse range of wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Muscadet. It offers a variety of styles, from crisp whites to elegant reds.


Maceration is the process of leaving grape skins and sometimes stems in contact with the juice during fermentation. This extracts color, tannins, and flavor compounds from the grape solids, adding complexity to the wine.

Malbec is a red grape variety originally from France but is now prominently associated with wines from Argentina. Malbec wines are full-bodied with flavors of blackberry, plum, and dark chocolate, often with a velvety texture.

Malolactic Fermentation
Malolactic fermentation is a secondary fermentation process in which tart malic acid is converted into softer lactic acid by bacteria. It can result in a creamy texture and buttery flavors in the wine.

Marlborough, New Zealand
Marlborough is renowned for its vibrant and expressive Sauvignon Blanc wines. It is known for its distinctive tropical fruit flavors and crisp acidity.

Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza is Argentina’s premier wine region, known for its Malbec wines. It benefits from high altitude and produces robust and flavorful wines.

Merlot is a popular red grape variety known for its approachability and soft tannins. South African Merlot wines often exhibit flavors of plum, black cherry, and chocolate, with a smooth and velvety texture.

Mosel, Germany
Mosel is known for its world-class Riesling wines. It is characterized by steep vineyard slopes and produces wines with vibrant acidity and delicate fruit flavors.


Napa Valley, United States
Napa Valley is one of the most prestigious wine regions in the United States, famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon. It is characterized by its Mediterranean climate and produces high-quality wines.

Nebbiolo is a red grape variety predominantly grown in the Piedmont region of Italy. It produces wines with high acidity, firm tannins, and flavors of red fruits, roses, tar, and truffles. Notable examples include Barolo and Barbaresco.


Oak Aging
Oak aging refers to the practice of aging wine in oak barrels. It can impart flavors such as vanilla, spice, and toast, as well as add texture and complexity to the wine.

Olifantsrivier is located in the Cederberg Mountains and produces a range of wines, including Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is known for its rugged beauty and unique terroir.


Paarl is known for its full-bodied red wines, particularly Shiraz and Pinotage. The region has a warm and dry climate, producing rich, fruit-forward wines with expressive flavors.

Piedmont, Italy
Piedmont is known for its exceptional Nebbiolo-based wines, including Barolo and Barbaresco. It also produces aromatic white wines such as Moscato d’Asti.

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris, is a white grape variety that produces light and refreshing wines. Pinot Grigio wines offer flavors of citrus, pear, and sometimes a subtle mineral character.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a delicate and temperamental red grape variety known for producing elegant and complex wines. South African Pinot Noir wines can exhibit flavors of red berries, earthiness, and subtle spice notes.

Pinotage is a distinctly South African grape variety, resulting from a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. It produces robust red wines with bold flavors of dark fruits, earthiness, and smoky undertones.

Pressing is the process of separating the juice from the solids (skins, seeds, and pulp) after fermentation. This is typically done using a wine press, which exerts pressure to extract the remaining juice.

Priorat, Spain
Priorat is a small but prestigious wine region in Spain, known for its intense and concentrated red wines. It produces wines primarily from Garnacha and Cariñena grapes.


Racking involves transferring the wine from one vessel to another, typically to separate it from sediment or clarify it. It helps improve the wine’s clarity and stability by leaving behind any unwanted solids or haze.

Red Bordeaux Blend
Red Bordeaux Blend refers to wines made from a combination of grape varieties commonly grown in the Bordeaux region of France. The blend typically includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. These wines are known for their structure, complexity, and flavors of blackcurrant, cedar, and tobacco.

Residual Sugar
Residual sugar refers to the natural sugars remaining in the wine after fermentation. It can range from dry wines with no perceptible sweetness to sweet wines with higher levels of residual sugar.

RhĂ´ne Valley, France
RhĂ´ne Valley is renowned for its diverse range of wines, including Syrah-based reds and Viognier-based whites. It is divided into the Northern RhĂ´ne and Southern RhĂ´ne regions.

Riesling is a white grape variety known for its high acidity and aromatic profile. It produces wines ranging from bone-dry to lusciously sweet, with flavors of citrus, stone fruits, and floral notes.

Rioja, Spain
Rioja is a renowned wine region in Spain, known for its Tempranillo-based red wines. It offers a range of styles, from young and fruity to complex and aged.

Robertson is known for its diverse range of wines, including Chardonnay, Shiraz, and MĂ©thode Cap Classique sparkling wines. The region has a warm climate and is recognized for its limestone-rich soils.


Sangiovese is a red grape variety primarily associated with Italian wines, especially those from Tuscany. It offers flavors of cherry, plum, herbs, and a characteristic acidity, with notable examples in Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.

Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is a refreshing white grape variety known for its vibrant acidity and aromatic profile. South African Sauvignon Blanc wines often display tropical fruit flavors, citrus notes, and herbal undertones.

Sediment refers to solid particles that can settle at the bottom of a wine bottle over time, especially in aged wines. It consists of tannins, pigments, and other compounds that precipitate out of the wine.

Shiraz, also known as Syrah, is a popular red grape variety that thrives in various wine regions worldwide. In South Africa, it produces rich and full-bodied red wines with flavors of blackberry, pepper, and spices.

Sonoma Valley, United States
Sonoma Valley is known for its diverse range of wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel. It offers a wide variety of terroirs and microclimates.

Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wine is a type of wine that contains dissolved carbon dioxide, producing bubbles and effervescence. It can be made through various methods, including the traditional Champagne method or tank fermentation.

Known as the “heart” of the South African wine industry, Stellenbosch produces a wide range of wines, including red blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chenin Blanc. It has a Mediterranean climate and is renowned for its diverse terroir.

Stellenbosch, South Africa
Stellenbosch is one of South Africa’s most renowned wine regions. It produces a wide range of wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chenin Blanc. It is characterized by its diverse terroir and historic winemaking tradition.

Swartland is known for its bold and innovative winemaking, focusing on RhĂ´ne-style red blends, Chenin Blanc, and old-vine Grenache. It is characterized by its hot, dry climate and unique terroir.

Sweet Wine
Sweet wine refers to a wine with noticeable levels of residual sugar, giving it a sweet taste. It can be achieved by stopping fermentation before all the grape sugars are converted into alcohol or by adding a sweetening agent.

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a red grape variety that can produce bold and robust wines. Syrah wines offer flavors of blackberry, plum, pepper, and spices, with a full-bodied and sometimes smoky character.


Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in grape skins, seeds, and stems. They contribute to the texture and structure of the wine, providing a drying or astringent sensation in the mouth.

Tempranillo is a red grape variety commonly grown in Spain, producing wines with flavors of red fruits, leather, tobacco, and vanilla. It is the main grape in wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

Terroir refers to the combination of environmental factors, including soil composition, climate, topography, and vineyard location, that influence the character and quality of the grapes and wine produced.

Tulbagh is a small, picturesque wine region known for its historic estates and stunning mountainous scenery. It produces a variety of wines, including Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, and Pinotage.

Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany is home to iconic wines such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Super Tuscans. It is known for its Sangiovese-based red wines and produces a range of styles, from traditional to modern.


Varietal refers to a wine made primarily or entirely from a specific grape variety. It highlights the characteristic flavors, aromas, and traits associated with that grape.

Vintage indicates the year in which the grapes used to make the wine were harvested. It can impact the style and quality of the wine, as growing conditions vary from year to year.

Viognier is an aromatic white grape variety known for its rich and full-bodied wines. South African Viognier wines often display floral aromas, stone fruits, and hints of spice.


Walker Bay/Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Situated along the cool Atlantic coast, this region is renowned for its exceptional cool-climate wines. It specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, producing elegant and refined expressions of these varietals.

Wellington produces a range of wines, including Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is characterized by warm days and cool nights, contributing to the wines’ balance and complexity.

Willamette Valley, United States
Willamette Valley in Oregon is renowned for its exceptional Pinot Noir wines. It has a cool climate and produces wines with finesse and complexity.

Worcester is one of the largest wine regions in South Africa, known for its warm climate and diverse grape varieties. It produces a wide range of wines, including Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinotage.


Zinfandel, also known as Primitivo, is a red grape variety that produces rich and fruit-forward wines. Zinfandel wines exhibit flavors of blackberry, raspberry, spice, and sometimes a hint of pepper.