Bouquet: The sum of a wine’s aromas; a key determinant of quality.
Cap: Grape solids like pits, skins and stems that rise to the top of a tank during fermentation; what gives red wines color, tannins and weight.
Color: A key determinant of a wine’s age and quality; white wines grow darker in color as they age while red wines turn brownish orange.
Decant: The process of transferring wine from a bottle to another holding vessel. The purpose is generally to aerate a young wine or to separate an older wine from any sediment.
Dry: A wine containing no more than 0.2 percent unfermented sugar.
Enology: The science of wine production; an enologist is a professional winemaker; an enophile is someone who enjoys wine.
Fortified Wine: A wine in which Brandy is introduced during fermentation; sugars and sweetness are high due to the suspended fermentation.
Gran Reserva: A Spanish term used for wines that are aged in wood and bottles for at least five years prior to release.
Hybrid: The genetic crossing of two or more grape types; common hybrids include Mueller-Thurgau and Baccus.
Jeroboam: An oversized bottle equal to six regular 750 ml bottles.
Lees: Heavy sediment left in the barrel by fermenting wines; a combination of spent yeast cells and grape solids.
Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wineglass after drinking or swirling.
Maceration: The process of allowing grape juice and skins to ferment together, thereby imparting color, tannins and aromas.
Oxidized: A wine that is no longer fresh because it was exposed to too much air.
Plonk: A derogatory name for cheap, poor-tasting wine.
Reserve: A largely American term indicating a wine of higher quality; it has no legal meaning.
Terroir: A French term for the combination of soil, climate, and all other factors that influence the ultimate character of a wine.
Varietal: A wine made from just one grape type and named after that grape; the opposite of a blend.
Yeast: Organisms that issue enzymes that trigger the fermentation process; yeasts can be natural or commercial.