Eiswein: Very sweet dessert wine made from grapes still frozen on the vine. Also known as Ice Wine.
Enology: The science and study of winemaking.
Enophile: A lover of all things wine.
Esters: Naturally occurring chemical compounds in wine that taste and smell fruity. Many are created by yeast during fermentation, and then decrease as the wine ages.
Fermentation: See Alcoholic Fermentation.
Fighting Varietal: A varietal wine priced as competitively as generics.
Finish: The lingering sensations in the mouth of texture and flavor after swallowing wine.
Fortified: A wine whose alcohol content has been increased by the addition of brandy or neutral spirits at some point during the wine’s making.
French Oak: Tighter-grained wood grown in France and used in the process of aging whiskey and wines. Known for imparting finer, more-delicate flavors of vanilla, cedar and sometimes butterscotch. More expensive to purchase than American Oak barrels, sometimes twice as much.
Full-bodied: A wine high in alcohol and flavors, often described as “big.”
Generic: A lower-quality wine usually made from inexpensive varieties.
Grenache: One of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties worldwide, including in Spain, California and southern France, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Soft on the palate, with red fruit flavors and subtle, white-pepper spices. Grenache wines tend to lack tannins, acid and color, and are commonly used in blends.
Gruner Vetliner: White grape from Austria that makes a fresh, fruity wine, many of which age nicely.
Herbaceous: A term describing aromas and flavors herbal or green-vegetable like. Characteristic of grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hot: A term for wine that is high on alcohol.
Hybrid: Grape that is a cross between two varieties from different families, with hybrids typically a European-American blend. Hybrids have great fungal resistance, making them ideal for growth in warm climates with much rainfall in summer.
Ice Wine: See Eiswein
Isinglass: An agent used in the process of fining overly harsh wines, by reducing tannins. Made of proteins extracted from the swim bladders of sturgeons and other fish.
Jug wines: Inexpensive, generic wines sold in half-gallon or gallon jug bottles. Jug wines are on the decline sales-wise, due to the rise of consumer interest in premium products.
Lees: Sediment consisting of dead yeast cells, grape pulp, seed and other grape matter that accumulates during fermentation. Typically removed via “racking,” or pumping the wine off to leave the residue behind. In some wines — especially Chardonnay — the lees are purposely left in the barrel to grant more complexity and palate creaminess to the wine.
Length: How long the taste, flavor and mouth-feel of a wine lasts in the mouth after swallowing. A longer finish is a trait of better wines.
Lively: Description term for a fresh, bright and youthful wine, with good fruit and acidity.