Il Glossario del Vino

ACIDIFICATION: process by which acid substances are added to the wine.

ACIDITY: indicates the total amount of organic acids that give the wine a fresh and lively sensation.

AFTERTASTE: the flavour left in the mouth after wine has been swallowed.

AGEING: oenological practice following refining, that involves a more or less long period in the bottle.

ALCOHOL (ethyl): after water, this is the main product in wine. It is produced from the fermentation of the sugars due to the yeasts.

ALCOHOL CONTENT: quantity of ethyl alcohol shown on the label and expressed in % Vol.

ALCOHOLIC FERMENTATION: transformation of must sugar into ethyl alcohol due to the yeasts.

ALCOLS (superior): these form during the alcoholic fermentation. The most important from an organoleptic point of view is glycerine.

AMPELOGRAPHIC BASE: represents the complex of vine varieties cultivated in a certain territory.

AMPELOGRAPHY: a discipline that studies the biological differences and behaviour of the vine variety (vineyards).

AMPLE: a wine with rich and complex hints on the nose.

ANTHOCYANINS: natural pigments present in red wines that give the wine's characteristic colour.

AROMATIC: a wine having the characteristic perfumes of the originating vine (typical vines with aromatic grapes are Moscato, Malvasia, Traminer, Müller Thurgau and Sauvignon).

ASSEMBLAGE: a blend of various wines from different lots and/or vintage and/or origin and/or variety to obtain a more harmonious and complex wine.

ASTRINGENT: taste given by the tannins.

BALANCE: see “harmonius”.

BARRIQUE: small wooden oak barrel holding 225 litres.

BITTER: this is one of the four fundamental flavours for an organoleptic analysis. It is pleasant only if well-integrated with the other components of the wine.

BODY: structure and density of the wine deriving from the richness of the extracted substances.

BOTRYTIZED: wine produced from grapes with “noble rot”, causing the grape to dehydrate (thereby giving a high sugar concentration) and the formation of particular aromas.

BOUQUET: a combination of perfumes that a wine acquires during the refining process.

CARBONIC MACERATION: a particular production technique that lies behind the production of Nouveau wines.

CERTIFICATION: a wine can be conferred a D.O. only following certification by the Chamber of Commerce in the territory. The certification provides for a chemical-physical analysis and an organoleptic examination by an official commission.

CLARIFICATION: oenological practice used after fermentation to eliminate the substances that provoke turbidity and to get a clear wine.

CLOSED: when a wine has just been uncorked and needs oxygenation to bring out its perfumes.

CLOUDING: defect in the wines that is often associated with bacterial pollution, but also due to chemical-physical causes.

COLOUR: visual element of the wine. It is the compendium of the intensity and shade.

COMBINATION: finding the balance between the various sensations linked to food and wine.

COMPLEXITY: typical characteristic of prestigious wines with a great variety of flavours and perfumes.

CONSISTENCY: tactile sensation perceptible on the tongue, which indicates the density or fluidity of the wine. These are more correct terms for the visual examination.

CRU: a French expression to indicate a small territory or specific vineyard, which, given its particular pedoclimate, produces particularly prestigious grapes.


CUVÉE: french term used for assemblage.

D.O.C.: Controlled Denomination of Origin. This is a geographical indication shown on the label reserved to wines meeting precise requirements set out by the production regulations and the national and community legislation.

D.O.C.G.: Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin. This is the ranking in the Italian wine-quality system.

DECANTING: technical term indicating the operation of pouring wine from the newly opened bottle into another glass recipient (decanter) in order to favour oxygenation and settling of any deposits.

DREGGY: wine that has a characteristic flavour and smell of “dregs”, which comes from the lengthy contact with its dregs.

DRY EXTRACT: combination of the solid substances present in the wine, which can be recovered following evaporation of water and alcohol. The greater the quantity of these substances, the greater the body of a wine.

DRY: a wine free from residual sugar, which gives that clean sensation in the mouth.

EFFERVESCENCE: presence of carbon dioxide (natural or added) in the wine, perceptible upon a visual or tasting examination or, as often happens, in both cases.

ELEVAGE: this is the refining in wood to give the wine a “heightened” quality characteristic.

ENRICHMENT: process whereby sugar is added to the must to obtain a wine with a high alcoholic content.

ETHEREAL: wine with an inebriating and intense perfume reminiscent of the characteristic smell of paint solvents.

EVANESCENT: too little intensity and persistence on the nose and palate.

FAT: wine with a good structure in which a pasty sensation, given by the glycerine, prevails.

FLAT: wine that has lost its liveliness on the palate.

FLAVOUR: result of the sensations perceived by the tongue (acidic, bitter, salty and sweet).

FLAW (in wine): chemical-physical and organoleptic alteration of the product due to bacterial action.

FLAW: alteration of the wine not attributable to biological causes (contamination of yeasts or undesired bacteria) but rather contact with oxygen, light, high temperatures or materials that have given an unpleasant hint (e.g. cork).

FLORAL: perfume with prevailing hints of flowers.

FLUIDITY: density of the wine noted simply by a visual inspection.

FRANKNESS: a technical term used in wine tasting to indicate a neat definition of aromas, free from interference by unpleasant smells in the wine.

FRESHNESS: pleasantly lively on the palate due to a good level of acidity.

FRUITY: perfume with prevailing hints of more or less ripe fruit.

FULL: wine with a good body and harmony on the palate.

GLYCERINE: substance produced by yeasts during fermentation. It gives a pleasant smoothness and structure to the wine.

GRAPE BLEND: the technical term means the blended vinification of various grapes to obtain a single wine. This term is generally used to indicate wines produced by “assemblage”.

HARD: wine in which there is excess acidity and tannin.

HARDNESS: acidity, sapidity and tannicity on the palate give the wine its hardness. This is more or less balanced out by the contrasting smoothness (see glossary).

HERBACEOUS: perfume where vegetal hints prevail (e.g. Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon).

I.G.T.: Typical Geographic Indication. This is a geographical indication shown on the label reserved to wines meeting the requirements established by the associated production rules. For the community legislations, however, it refers to “table wine” and thus a lower class than the Denomination of Origin wines.

INTENSITY: term expressing the “quantity” of a sensation, whether it is visual, on the nose, on the palate or the aftertaste.

LABEL: each type of indication shown on the bottle with which the producer, at his own responsibility, communicates to the consumer the exact content of the bottle.

LACTIC BACTERIA: micro-organisms responsible for malolactic fermentation, but also for some wine flaws

LIGHT: wine with a low alcoholic content.

LOT (number): compulsory code shown on the label that identifies the precise lot of wine.

MADERISED: term incorrectly used to indicate an oxidated wine.

MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION: transformation of malic acid into lactic acid due to the lactic bacteria, occurring generally after the alcoholic fermentation. A fundamental process for all red wines and in some whites to harmonise the acidity and obtain a more ample and round flavour

MARSALATO: see maderised.

MAXIMAL (of production): this is the maximum production limit, expressed in quintals of grapes per hectare, above which the D.O. or I.G.T. right drops. The maximal is defined by the production rules.

MEDIUM SWEET: wine with a slightly sweet flavour.

MUST: juice obtained from grape pressing and used for alcoholic fermentation.

NOUVEAU: particular type of light and fruity red wine, which is available in November following the harvest. It is intended for immediate consumption.

NUANCE: a French term meaning a hint; the perceptible presence of an aroma.

ORGANOLEPTIC ANALYSIS: synonym of wine-tasting.

OVER-RIPE: practice adopted for grapes used in the production of sweet wines or wines with a high alcohol content. The harvest is late with respect to the normal harvesting period to obtain increasingly sugary musts and generally with less acid.

OXIDATION: defect in the wine due to excessive contact with oxygen during vinification or preservation.

OXYGENATION: to be performed on all wines, which are a few years old, when uncorking. This consists of allowing the wine to air (open out) for a few minutes in the glass before tasting it, so that it is at its best.

PASSERILLAGE: wine produced from semi-dried grapes.

PEDOCLIMATE: term indicating the environment in which the vineyard is located and which considers many components tied to the land (pedo) as well as those tied to the climate.

PERLANT: term with which the effervescence of sparkling and semi-sparkling wine is described.

PERSISTENCE: term expressing the duration of a sensation, whether it is on the nose, on the palate or the aftertaste.

PHENOLOGY: a discipline that studies the biological cycle of the vine and the various phases of development throughout the year.

POLYPHENOLS: vast family of compounds present in the grapes and wines responsible for the colour, body and astringency sensation.

PRIMARY AROMAS: typical aromas of the vine.

PROTECTION CONSORTIUM: voluntary association recognised by law, which has the purposes of promoting the increase in the Denomination of Origin in terms of the technical profile and image.

QUALITY WINE PRODUCED IN DETERMINED REGIONS: “Vin de qualité produit dans une région délimitée”. The community standards of all D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. wines fall within this expression.

RAISINING: a wine-making technique that consists of leaving the bunches of grapes to dry either on the vine itself or in suitable places so as to increase the sugar content of the wine.

RAW: a wine that is still too young for drinking or is too acidic and disharmonious.

REDUCTIVE: term indicating the condition in which the wine is when it has not been in contact with air for a long time.

REFINING: practice whereby the wine matures and acquires harmony and complexity by resting in wooden barrels or in bottles.

RULES (production): regulation relating to D.O.C., D.O.C.G. and I.G.T. indicating the delimitations of the production area, the cultivation techniques allowed, the maximum production, chemical-physical and organoleptic characteristics that the wines must have to be certified. The rules are proposed by the Protection consortium, but it is a state law, in that they have been approved by ministerial decree.

SALTY: flavour given by the mineral salts and organic acids in the wine.

SAPIDITY: see “salty”.

SEMI-SPARKLING: wine containing a moderate amount of carbon dioxide.

SEMI-SWEET: a wine with a clearly sweet taste due to a discrete presence of sugar.

SENSORIAL ANALYSIS: a particular type of tasting during the course of which the wine is characterised and a judgement on quantity is given, rather than on quality to the visual, olfactive and tasting sensations.

SETTING: a phase in the annual cycle of the vine where, once the flowers have been fertilised, it starts to develop and turns into a grape

SHORT: wine with a lack of persistent taste.

SMOOTHNESS: sensation on the palate created by the sugar, alcohol and glycerine.

SOMMELIER: professional figure in restaurants and wine bars who takes care of the cellar, the wine list, who prepares and serves at table.

SOUR: wine with an excessive acid flavour; an unpleasant taste due to excess acidity.

SOUR: an unpleasant taste due to excess acidity.

SPARKLING WINE: wine with a discrete amount of carbon dioxide, bottled and sealed with a mushroom cork and wire.

SPICY: perfume with prevailing hints of spices (pepper, cinnamon, coffee, cocoa, etc.).

STABILISATION: oenological practice prior to bottling, in order to eliminate every possibility of chemical-physical and/or biological alterations in the wine.

STILL: wine without effervescence.

STRUCTURE: see “body”.

SUBTLETY: a technical term used in wine tasting to indicate the general quality of aromas. It is maybe the most subjective element in assessing a wine. It is often closely connected to the typicality of a wine.

SUBZONE: see “cru”.

SUGAR RESIDUE: this term means the residual sugar, which has not turned to alcohol, remaining in the wine.

SUGARS: important products of wine, necessary to soften the acidic component and being a part of the smoothness, like the alcohol and glycerine, which is essential in the balance parameters.

SULPHUR DIOXIDE: gassy substance with an antiseptic and antioxidising action normally used in oenology within the limits of the law

SWEET: wine in which the presence of sugar is clearly distinguished and stands out above all the other flavours.

TANNINS: polyphenols responsible for the astringent flavour.

TASTING: reasoned tasting during the course of which the visual characteristics, characteristics on the nose and palate and the aftertaste of the wine are evaluated.

TERROIR: French term indicating the interaction between vine, microclimate and soil. The effect of this relationship on the grapes and thereby on the wine determines the uniqueness of the “cru”.

THIN: wine that lacks body on the palate.

THINNING-OUT (of the production): this is also called green harvesting in that it consists of removing a certain percentage of grapes from the vines when they are still green. The operation has the purpose of limiting the yield per hectare to increase the quality of the grape.

TONALITY: element of the visual inspection, which together with the intensity, defines the colour of a wine.

TRACEABILITY: a technical term used to indicate a body of standards and procedures intended to protect the consumers and giving clear information on the origin of a wine and conformity of winemaking methods with the prescriptions of its relevant regulations.

TYPICALNESS: characteristic that makes a wine recognisable when referring to a vine or origin of the grapes.

TYPOLOGY: wine classification in the community and national standards (e.g. Novello, Frizzante, Spumante, Still, Passerillage, Liquorous, ecc.).

VARIETY: type of vine obtained through genetic selection, whereby the grapes produced have well-defined and recognisable characteristics.

VELVETY: wine which has a pleasant round flavour on the palate. This depends on the quantity of glycerine and type of tannins present.

VINE: see “Variety”.

VOLATILE (acidity): acidity present in the wine, which is attributable to the acetic or propionic acid. If there is an excess amount, it is considered a defect.

WARM: wine in which the high alcohol content generates a warm sensation in the mouth.

WEAK: wine lacking in some elements.

YEAST: single-cell micro-organism that activates the alcoholic fermentation.

ZONATION: a technical and scientific survey aimed at defining the relation of a grape variety to soil and microclimate, and possibly advising on the choice of the varieties which are best adapted to different winemaking areas.