Wine Terms: A-to-Z!

We, as a people, love our drinks, and increasingly, have been taken in by the eclectic and new-emerging delights of wine as a beverage. Here to give us an instant upgrade on our wine-knowledge is Arashasp Shroff, the 25-year-old culinary prodigy from Toronto, Canada, whose recent blog, ‘The View From Table 3’, has been gaining increasing appreciation from fans and professionals and wine enthusiasts alike! Says Arashasp, who currently shares his expertise as a beverage supervisor at the prestigious St. Georges Golf and County Club, “The View From Table 3 is my blog, co-created with a friend, that aims to educate and to entertain at the same time. We decided upon this blog as it gives us the chance to communicate our love of hospitality and making people happy over a social media platform. It’s basically encompassing everything – food, beverage, analyzing trends in food and wine, and other whimsical ideas!”


The world of wine is fun and exciting but can be daunting at times with its whole set of terminologies. Fear not, I’ve broken it down for you so as to speed you up to the many common wine terms as listed below:

Acidity: A feature in all wines, acid makes the palate salivate. Whether it is low or high depends on the grape, region, and the style of wine making. Next time you taste wine, tilt your chin downwards and keep your mouth open (as odd as that may seem, it works), and depending on how much drool there is will indicate the level of acidity in the wine.

Aerate: To allow oxygen to come into contact with the wine to accelerate its development. Usually done by swirling of the glass or decanting.

Bianco: White – Italian.

Blanc: White – French

Blanco: White – Spanish

Bouquet: The number of complex aromas collected in a glass and/or the scent of a wine maturing.

Château: (French) – A wine growing property in France.

Claret: Red wine from Bordeaux.

Complex: Presence of a variety of flavours in the wine.

Core: The colour of a wine in the centre of the glass, usually depicting the age of the wine.

Corked: The state of the wine, revealed by a musty odour (damp, soggy, wet cardboard), that has been affected by a faulty cork.

Demi-sec: (French): Semi-Sweet

Dolce: (Italian) Sweet

Doux: (French) Sweet

Dulce: (Spanish) Sweet

Fermentation: This occurs when the yeast (either naturally present in grapes and/or added in cultured form) begin to eat the sugars and slowly turn it into alcohol and create CO2 as well. The entire process can take a few weeks to complete.

Flavour: The taste of a wine which is compared to fruits, earth, vegetables, spices and more.

Fortified Wine: The process of adding additional alcohol to either stop the fermentation process by killing the yeast so that there is some residual sugar left or to simply give the wine more body and structure. Some examples are Sherry, Madeira, Port.

Frizzante: (Italian) Semi-sparkling

Grand Cru: (French) A classification system that gives reputation to certain vineyards for the highest quality of soil and its ability to produce the best grapes. These are seen in Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne.

Landwein: (German) A label used for a level of quality higher than simple table wine.

Late Harvest: Grape that are left on the vines past the point of being picked in order to receive more warmth and develop higher sugar levels. This creates some wines that are very ripe and often have a sweetness to them.

Legs: When wine sticks to the sides of the glass after being swirled. This indicates the percentage of alcohol in the wine – the higher the alcohol, the heavier and slower will the wine flow back in the glass.

Moelleux: (French) A wine that is round, soft, smooth and velvety on the palate.

Mousse: (French) The depth of the bubbles in a glass of sparkling wine.

Mousseux: (French): Sparkling

Non Vintage or N/V: A wine that is a blend from more than one vintage, quite common.

Nosing: Smelling a wine to not just pick up its aromas but also its condition – whether it’s clean or faulty (corked).

Oak: Wine is often aged in oak barrels, the most common ones being French and American barrels. These play different roles for the wine and can add flavours like vanilla, coconut, dill, etc.

Oxidized: Although oxygen is good for a newly opened bottle of wine, too much exposure could decrease the wine’s pigmentation and cause loss of aromas/flavours.

Petillant: (French) Slightly-sparkling

Rich: The depth of concentration and flavours of the wine.

Rosso: (Italian) Red

Sec: (French) Dry

Secco: (Italian) Dry

Seco: (Spanish) Dry

Sediment: The deposit that forms at the bottom of the bottle after some aging. Most common in red wines, as the wine starts to breakdown the skins that formed the colour begins to solidify. That’s why red wine loses colour from its purple to brick-like as it ages.

Smooth: Usually a full bodied wine with soft tannins

Soft: Fruity, soft, and low in tannins.

Tannin: A textural element that makes wine taste dry. Tannin comes from the skin, seeds, stalk, and even the oak barrels in which the wine is aged-in, adding bitterness, astringency, as well as complexity.

Tafelwein: (German) Table wine

Tinto: (Spanish) Red

Ullage: The amount of air in a barrel or bottle, between the base of the cork and the wine.

Varietal: Wine named after the grape of its making

Vin doux naturel (VDN): (French) Wine that is fortified by the addition of alcohol either before or after fermentation to sweeten and strengthen it.

Vinification: Winemaking

Vintage: The year when the grapes were picked from which the wine was made. (French: Vendage)

Viticulture: Cultivation of grapes


If you wish to know more about wines and beverages and get some amazing recipes, check out Arashasp’s blog at:


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