Know Your Wine

Link to latest blog

Glossary of Terms

AlbariñoA fresh, light, aromatic variey, Albarino is principally known for the excellent wines made from it in Galicia,north west Spain, which have a devoted and deserved following.

Adega: winery in Portugal.

Assemblage: a blend of separately fermented wines.


Barbera: lovely fruity red variety grown in the Piemonte region  of north west Italy.

Barrique: a 225 litre cask, commonly used in Bordeaux, now in widespread use elsewhere.

Battonage: stirring the lees, (see below) usually in a barrel of wine, to add flavour and body to it.

Baumé: French system for the measurement of the weight of grape must, which indicates alcoholic potential.

Biodynamic: an organic approach to vine growing that takes the timing for its viticultural practices from the movement of the stars and planets.

Bodega: a winery in Spain.

Brix: a scale for the measurement of the weight of grape must and hence how much alcohol it might yield.

Brut: dry, for sparkling wines and champagne.


Cask:barrel, normally of oak, used for fermenting, ageing and storing wines. 

Cava: Spanish sparkling wine made by the traditional method (formerly known as the champagne method.)

Cépage: French for 'grape variety.'

Champagne: French sparkling wine made in geographically defined vineyard sites, using secondary bottle fermentation to create bubbles. Vineyards are classified by points out of 100, with Grand Cru being 100 and Premier Cru 99.

Classico: the centre of a classified region (DOC) in Italy.

Côte: French for 'hillside'.

Crianza: Spanish classification of wine aged at least for legally stipulated minimum periods in cask and bottle.

Cru: literally 'growth' in French, it refers normally to a village or vineyard producing quality wine.

Cru Bourgeois: Bordeaux château wine, of a level below Cru Classé.

Cru Classé: Bordeaux classified growth, indicating high quality.

Cuvée: normally used to mean 'blend' in France.  


Dégorgement / Disgorging: means of removing the sediment from a bottle of sparkling wine produced by the traditional method.

Demi-Sec: Medium-dry.

DO / DOC / DOCG: Denominated and controlled origin of production in Spain and Italy.

Domaine: estate in France.


Estate: another term for vineyards, generally used to indicate wines entirely grown on the property - and 'Estate bottled'.


Fattoria: wine estate in Italy

Fermentation: the process by which sugar is converted to alcohol by yeast.

Foudre: French for barrel or tun.


Glera: The  grape that makes Prosecco, which used also to be known as Prosecco.

Gran Reserva: the Spanish classification requiring the longest - and long - ageing in bottle and cask.


Lagar: trough of stone or concrete for treading grapes in Portugal or Spain; a method rarely used now

Lees: the sediment left by spent yeast after fermentation.

Lees-stirring: the mixing up in the cask of the lees and wine, to extract additional flavours and body. Also known as 'batonnage.'


Macabeo: The name in Catalonia for the grape known in Rioja as Viura, which gives good quality fruity whites. Also part of the classic blend for Cava.

Maceration: contact of grape skins with must during red wine fermentation.

Malolactic Fermentation: a secondary cask fermentation used to soften acidity.

Merchant: a blender and bottler of wines grown by third party vineyards.

Must: juice of grapes for making wine.


Négociant: a merchant (see above) in France.



Spanish DO and DOC wines that have been aged in cask and bottle for legally established minimum periods.

Residual sugar: unfermented sugar in a bottle of wine.

Riddling: Movement to the neck of the bottle of sediment left by fermentation in champagne and traditional method sparkling wine. The sediment is then removed in a process known as disgorging (see above).

Riserva: Italian DOC wine, aged in cask and or bottle for a certain length of time.


Sec: Dry (French)

Secco: Dry (Italian)

Seco: Dry (Spanish, Portuguese)

Sur lie: a wine that is left to age with the lees still in the barrel - generally to give texture and flavour.


Tannin: A compound occurring naturally in the skins, stalks and pips of grapes. It is taken advantage of in the making of red wine in which it acts as a preservative. Its presence is felt on the gums.

Tenuta: A wine estate in Italy.

Terroir: That unique combination of soil, exposure to sunlight, climate, local climate and other local factors which adds up to the expression of a place of origin and comes through in a wine.

Tinto: Red wine (Spanish, Portuguese.)


Vinification: winemaking

Viticulture: the agricultural practice of growing grapes.