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Wine Glossary

Wine Glossary

Albarino A Spanish white wine grape most common in the Rias Baixas area. The grape is noted on the wine label. Albariños are crisp, refreshing, and light-bodied.

ALCOHOL An integral component of wine that adds much of the wine's body. Most wines range from 7 percent to 14 percent alcohol by volume. Alcohol is produced naturally by yeast during the fermentation process. The active yeast converts the natural sugars in the grape juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide, which is released from the fermenting tank by means of a trap.

ALIGOTÉ The "other" white wine grape grown in some areas of Burgundy, Chardonnay being the most well known. Usually a medium-bodied, crisp, dry wine with spicy character.

Amarone Amarone is one of the world's most distinctive and unusual wine styles. It is produced in the same northern Italian region that creates valpolicella, and is a product of the indigenous corvina grape. When harvested, select lots of grapes are set out on mats to dry, thereby concentrating their sugars and flavors. The resultant wine is thick and rich, with alcohol levels around 15%. The wines have distinctive porty overtones, though they are generally dry. Paired with game or other rich dishes, amarone can be a revelation--although the style of the wine is certainly not for everyone.

AUSLESE A German white wine made from selected bunches of grapes that are very ripe and thus high in sugar. The word Auslese means "selection."

BANYULS An unusual French wine commonly served with chocolate or dishes with a hint of sweetness. Made from late-harvest Grenache grapes, the wine must by law contain 15 percent alcohol. The steep hillside vineyards in the small village of Banyuls are above the Mediterranean at the southern limit of Roussillon.

Barbaresco Fine, full-bodied red wine from Piemonte, northern Italy.

BARBERA A noble red grape of northern Italy, especially Piedmont; also grown in California and used for blending. It produces dark, astringent, fruity wines such as Barbera d'Albi and Barbera d'Asti, and may also be made into sparkling and semisweet wines.

Bardolino Popular light red wine from Verona, northern Italy.

Barolo Excellent red wine from Piemonte, northern Italy, made from Nebbiolo grape: one of the single best Italian wines, very long-lived.

Beaujolais Famous red wine from Burgundy, produced from Gamay grape. Beaujolais-Villages is wine from one of the 35 communes in the northern district, usually finer than plain Beaujolais: the best wines come from the communes of Brouilly, Chiroubles, Cote de Brouilly, Chenas, Fleurie, julienas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent and Saint-Amour.

BEERENAUSLESE A German word meaning "selected berry picking." A rich wine, golden in color, that is produced mostly from overripe Riesling grapes that have been affected by botrytis.

BLANC DE BLANCS A white wine, especially champagne, made from only white grapes.

BLANC DE NOIRS A white or blush wine made from dark grapes.

BLUSH WINE An American term for rosé. Any wine that is pink in color, such as the misnamed "white Zinfandel."

Bordeaux City in southwestern France; also France's largest fine wine region. Principal wine districts: Medoc, Graves, St. Emilion, Pomerol, Sauternes, Barsac, Entre-Deux-Mers. Produces elegant red wines and scented white wines.

BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO The Brunello grape, grown in the town of Montalcino in southern Tuscany (Italy), produces full-bodied, rich, powerful, long-lived wines. By DOCG law the wines must be aged in wood for three and a half years and be released not before their fourth year. Rosso di Montalcino, also produced from the Brunello grape, can be released after one year with no wood aging required.

Brut French for "natura1," driest grade employed for Champagne.

Burgundy Old French province, one of France's most celebrated wine districts. Principal regions: Chablis to the north; the Cote d'Or, divided into the Cote de Nuits and the Cote de Beaune; Chalonnais; Maconnais; and Beaujolais,north of the city of Lyon. In the U.S. burgundy also a generic term identifying full-bodied, dry red wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon Excellent red wine grape grown for the wines of Bordeaux, and some of the best red wines in the U.S. Wines are finely scented, usually quite long-lived.

Chablis Little town in northeastern Burgundy, France, and its exquisite dry white wine. The name "Chablis," is also used all over the world as a generic term to describe dry white wines.

Champagne Illustrious sparkling wine produced in the Champagne district in France.

Chardonnay Excellent white wine grape, used in Burgundy and Champagne; also grown in California and, to a small degree, in New York State for some of this country's best white wines.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Celebrated red wine produced in the Rhone region in southern France; powerful and full-bodied.

CheninBlanc Fine white wine grape, native to the Loire district in France. Now an important grape in California. It usually makes Slightly off-dry wines.

Chianti Famous red wine from Tuscany, Italy. Usually a light, fruity red wine. Best district in central portion, known as Chianti Classico.

Claref Term originally identified light red wines of Bordeaux, now in general use to distinguish wines of this type.

Cotes-du-Rhone Good red, white and rose wines produced in Rhone River valley, France.

Estate Bottled Wine produced and bottled by the same person who also grew the gapes.

Extra Dry Degree of sweetness of Champagne; not quite as dry as Brut but drier than Sec (dry.)

Gamay Red grape grown in Beaujolais district, France, for light, fruity red wine; also grown in California.

Gewurztraminer Fine white grape producing characteristically full-flavored "spicey" wines; native to the Alsace region and important in Germany, central Europe and California.

Graves Celebrated wine district in Bordeaux producing fine red and white wines. The whites are especially famous. Reds are particularly full bodied for Bordeaux.

Lambrusco Well-known Italian red wine, almost always slightly sparkling.

Liebfraumilch World-famous off-dry white wine from Germany.

Loire Major river in north-central France, with many fine wine regions along its banks. The upper Loire is the source of Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre; the middle Loire is the source of Vouvray, Chinon and Bourgueil. The lower Loire includes Anjou, a major producer of rose wines and dry Muscadet.

Macon City in southern Burgundy, France; also the name of its good red and white wines.

Madeira Island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, long noted for its fortified wines. Wines of this type are also produced in the U.S.

Margaux Noted wine village in the Medoc district of Bordeaux; produces exquisite red wines.

Medoc Important wine district north of the city of Bordeaux, France; also the name of the fine red wine it produces. Region includes the famous communes (townships) of Margaux, Listrac, Moulis, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estephe.

Merlot Fine quality red wine grape grown in many parts of the world. It gives scented, graceful red wines with a good deal of fruit.

Mosel (French, Moselle) picturesque river. Vineyards abound on its banks. Fine-scented Riesling wines are its specialty.

Muscadet Popular dry white wine grown in lower Loire: made from grape of the same name.

Napa Prominent wine county in California, with some 25,000 acres of wine grapes-the home of many of California's most famous producers,

Orvieto Fresh, lively white wine from the district of Umbria, ltaly.

Pauillac Renowned wine town in the Haut-Medoc region, north of the city of Bordeaux. Most famous estates; Chateaux Lafite, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild.

Petite Sirah Robust grape variety grown in California. Produces very full-bodied red wines, especially in the North Coast counties.

Pinot Noir Principal red wine grape of Burgundy and Champagne, and increasingly in California; produces very fine red wine. Vinified separately, away from the skins for the Blanc de Noirs.

Port Sweet fortified wine from the district of Oporto in Portugal; also identifies any sweet fortified wine of this type, produced by adding brandy to partially fermented grape juice.

POUILLY-FUISSE Celebrated white wine from Burgundy, very dry, fresh-tasting.

POUILLY-FUME Dry white wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape grown in the upper Loire district in France; no relation to Pouilly-Fuisse.

Retsina Greek wine to which pine resin has been added; popular in Greece but an acquired taste to most Americans.

Rhone Major river in France, and the many fine vineyards along its course southwards.

Riesling Superb white wine grape, originally, developed in Germany and now grown around the world.

Rioja One of Spain's leading wine regions. Produced some of Spain's very finest red wines.

Roseacute; Pink wine, known as vin rose, produced either by fermenting the grapes with the skins for a limited time, or by blending red and white wine together.

Saint-Emilion Important Bordeaux wine region; produces fine, scented wines primarily from Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Saint-Julien Celebrated wine commune in the Haut-Medoc district, Bordeaux, prodices elegant, scented red wines.

Sauternes Sweet, luscious white wine from theVineyards of Sauternes in Bordeaux. When spelled without the final "S", identifies any sweet or semi-dry white wine.

Sauvignon Blanc Fine white wine grape, produces elegant, scented white wines.

Semillon White grape variety; gives a rather full-bodied white wine.

Sherry Fortified wine produced from vineyards surrounding the city of Jerez de la Frontera in southwestern Spain. Also identifies wine produced

elsewhere of sherry character.

Soave Popular light dry white wine from the Verona region, northern Italy; rated D.O.C.

Sonoma Notable wine county north of San Francisco; one of the "North Coast Counties."

Valpolicella Attractive red wine produced near the city of Verona in northern ltaly; fresh, light, usually consumed when quite young.

Varietal Wines named for the grape varirty from which they are made.

Vinifera The Eurasian or European species of wines grown throughout the world's vineyards.

White Riesling An alternate term for Johannisberg Riesling.

Zinfandel Excellent red wine grape grown in California; produces very flavorful, fruity red wine.