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Small wine glossary for amateurs: here are the terms to know

  • 30/06/2023

​Let's face it: how many times, during a wine tasting, or at a restaurant or in a cellar when choosing the bottle, have we pretended to understand what the sommelier was telling us? Wine world, in fact, is full of many technical terms that identify some aspects or characteristics of the wine, the production processes and even the type of bottle, but for those without oenological skills they can be difficult and unclear. 

That's why we decided to collect them and create a small "wine glossary" that can help guide you in this complex sector and, why not, make a good impression at the next tasting!


Wine glossary: some terms to know

As mentioned, wine terminology is very rich in words and expressions used by producers, sommeliers and professionals in the wine sector, which can also be found in the technical data sheets and on the back labels.

Knowing some of these terms will help you when choosing a bottle or during a tasting: here are some words that every wine lover should know!


Sweetish wine

You will certainly have heard of a "sweetish" wine, but what do we mean? We are talking about a wine which, thanks to the residual sugar that the fermentation process has not transformed into alcohol, tends slightly to sweet. In this case, the residual sugar is between 4 g/l and 12 g/l.


Aging

We often speak of "aging", and it is the final phase of the wine maturation process, which takes place in the bottle, before being marketed and which allows the wine to acquire balance.


Astringent

It is a wine that binds in the mouth, tart and astringent due to the excess of tannin.


Sweet wine

A sweet wine is a wine that has a slight tendency towards sweetness, more than medium-dry, due to sugar residues – between 12c g/l and 45 g/l – which have not been completely transformed into alcohol.


Blend

This is also a term that you may have heard several times. In enology, "blend" means a mixture of two (or more grapes) to obtain a single cut. In general, it is therefore the assembly made with grapes, wines and musts from the same vintage or from previous harvests.


Bouquet

We are talking about the set of olfactory sensations – perfumes and aromas – perceived in a wine during its maturation and ageing. A wine bouquet can be of different types, for example floral, fruity, spicy and so on.


Full-bodied

You may have read it many times, or heard the waiter say it in a restaurant, but what does a "full-bodied" or "rich-bodied" wine mean? It means a balanced wine, with a good structure and a good alcohol content, which can be well paired with aged cheeses or grilled meats.


Vintage wine: what is the meaning?

Here is another common expression in the wine glossary. This term refers to the year in which the grapes were harvested, thus establishing the age of the wine. The vintage can affect the flavor and quality of the wine, as climatic conditions vary from year to year,


Aging

Aging specifies the period of maturation of the wine before bottling and subsequent consumption and takes place in barrels of different types or in stainless steel tanks. This phase is not only important, but it is crucial because it allows the various components and aromas to harmonize with each other. It differs from the refinement phase, which instead identifies the last phase of the evolution and maturation of the wine which takes place in the bottle, therefore after bottling.


Vintage wine

This term was born to define the Champagnes that derive from the blending of wines produced in the same year, also used to indicate any wine that shows the vintage on the label.


Reserve wine: here is the meaning

It is a term which indicates on the label a particular batch of wines which has undergone longer aging than the basic version, according to the relative specification, and which can only be applied to DOC or DOCG wines. Specifically, this period must be at least two years for reds and at least one year for whites in order for them to be classified as a Riserva. This characteristic undoubtedly increases the value of a wine, which is usually more full-bodied and with a higher alcohol content.


Vino Superiore: the meaning

Also in this case it is a mention, which however refers to those wines - only DOC or DOCG - produced following more stringent rules, set by the disciplinary for this specific type. In particular, the yield per hectare of the grapes is specified, which must be at least 10% lower: the less a plant produces, the higher the quality of the bunches and therefore the final quality of the wine. The result will be wines with higher quality characteristics, as well as a higher alcohol content compared to the basic typology of the same wine which does not bear the “Superiore" mention.


Tannins: what are they?

They are natural substances present in grapes and in the skin which give the wine a bitter and astringent taste. Tannins are found above all in red wines and are responsible for their structure and aging potential.


Terroir

In French, it literally means "land" or "soil". In fact, this term indicates a broader concept, which sees the combination of three key factors in the production of a quality wine, namely soil, climate and man. Therefore, reference is made to a place with a delimited and specific area that has unique characteristics, given by its microclimate, its history, but it is a broader concept, which can also include the type of processing and the production method.

 

These are obviously just some of the many terms or expressions you may come across, but knowing them will certainly be useful during a tasting. On this regard, why not test your newly acquired knowledge or deepen other definitions with a tasting at one of our Estates? You can visit the cellar of Fattoria del Cerro and enjoy 4 excellences of the Estate directly in the Villa, or even discover Monterufoli through its wines and a taste of local products. In short, the possibilities are not lacking: discover all the experiences on our website!​​​

 

 

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