The Range of French Wine
The scale of French wine
Regulating French Wine
Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC)
Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure (VDQS)
Vins de Pays
Vins de Tables
Special Wines
Reading a French Wine Label
The Wine Trade In France
The Language Of France
The Essentials Of France

Appelation d’Origine Controlee (AOC/AC) - Designation governing such factors as area of production, grape varieties, levels of alcohol, maximum yield etc. Supposedly the key French “quality” label.

Assemblage - A blending of base wines that creates the desired cuvee – particularly in Champagne and Bordeaux.

Band de vendange - Officially declared regional date for the permitted start of grape-picking.

Barrique - Wooden barrel holding 225 litres.

Baume - Measuring scale for the amount of sugar in grape must.

Blanc de Blancs – White wine made from white grapes. Usually applied to sparkling wine.

Blanc de Noirs - relatively rare designation for white (usualy sparkling) wine made from black grapes.

Brut - Dry.

Cave - Cellar.

Cepage - Grape variety.

Chai - Cellar/winery.

Chaptalization - Addition of sugar to grape must to increase level of alcohol.

Clairet - A pale red wine.

Climat - Burgundian term for vineyard.

Close - A plot of land that is, or once was, enclosed by a wall.

Collage - The fining of a wine.

Commune - An administrative district within a departement.

Confrerie - A “brotherhood” or association.

Cote/Coteaux - Hillside (s)

Courtier - A broker who liaises between wine-makers and merchants.

Cremant - Sparkling wine – in Champagne, traditionally indicated a less fizzy, more “frothy” style, but this usage has now been phased out following the granting of Appellations to the fully sparkling Cremant d’Alsace, de Loire and de Bourgogne.

Cru - Literally a growth; refers to a particular wine.

Cru Classe - An officially classified growth, or vineyard, in Bordeaux. Also an anachronistic designation in Provence.

Cuvaison/maceration - Period of time a red wine spends in contact with its skins.

Cuve (de fermentation) - Vat.

Cuve close - Bulk production method for sparkling wine also called after its inventor, Charmat, whereby second fermentation takes place in a tank.

Cuvee - A special batch of wine or the contents of a vat.

Debourbage - The period during which the solids are allowed to settle from the must (mout) during fermentation.

Degorgement - Stage in sparkling wine production when sediment is removed.

Demi-sec - Half dry/half sweet.

Departement - Administrative region, similar to British county or US state.

Doux - Sweet.

Elevage - Maturation, rearing of a wine, often including racking and blending, before bottling – the job of the negociant.

Egrappoir - A machine that removes stalks from grapes before they are pressed.

Encepagement - Verietal blend.

En primeur - Description of wines (particularly clarets) for sale before they have been finally bottled.

Foudre - A large wooden cask.

Fouloir - A long, revolving tube usd to remove the juice in grapes.

Fut - Barrel.

Gout de terroir - Literally “taste of earth” but meaning that a wine has flavours reflecting a combination of soil, slope and climate.

Grand Cru - A top-quality vineyard site: literally “great growth”. The meaning bas been debased due to lack of legislative control. It has specific status in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne and Alsace.

INAO - The Institut National des Appellations d’Origine, the body governing the Appellation Controlee system.

Jeunes vignes - Young vines.

Lies - Lees, or dead yeasts, left over from fermentation. Wine may be bottled “sur lie’.

Liquoreux - Rich and sweet.

Maceration carbonique - Carbonic maceration.

Marc - The detritus left after pressing grape skins – or the brandy distilled from it.

Mistelle - Fresh grape juice which has had alcohol added prior to fermentation. Not technically a wine as it never ferments.

Millesime - Vintage.

Mis en bouteilles (au chateau, Or domaine) bottled at the estate.

Moelleux - Semi-sweet.

Mousseux - Sparkling, but not a methode champenoise wine.

Mout - Must.

Mutage - The addition of alcohol to mist to stop it from fermenting.

Negociant - Trader or merchant.

Negociant-eleveur - Merchant who buys wine post-fermentation and blends and bottles it for sale under his own label.

Nouveau - Wine intended to be consumed in the months following harvest.

Passerillage - The process of allowing grapes to over ripen and shrivel.

Pelure d’oignon - “Onion skin” – used to describe the colour of some roses.

Perlant - Very slightly sparkling.

Petillant – Slightly sparkling.

Piece - Cask.

Pourriture noble - “Noble rot” – botrytis cinerea.

Premier Cru - The highest level of the 1855 Bordeaux classification; the second level in Burgundy.

Primeur - New wine.’

Pressoir - Grape press.

Pupitre - Rack used for tilting sparkling wine bottles so that sediment falls on to the cork ready for degorgement.

Rancio - A taste created by controlled oxidation by heat of a wine in cask.

Ratafia - Liqueur made from marc and grape juice in Champagne.

Recolte – Harvest

Remontage - The pumping of the mist over it is skins to extract colour and flavour.

Remuage - The manipulation of sparkling wine bottles by turning so as to deposit the sediment in the neck of the bottle.

Rendement - The allowed yield of wine from a given area.

Rose d’une nuit - A rose created by macerating red grape juice briefly – overnight – with the skins.

Saignee - Literally, “bleeding” - creating a rose by drawing off lightly tinted surplus juice from a fermenting vat of red wine.

Sous-marque - Secondary brand name often used for wine not good enough for the producer’s main label.

Sec - Dry, or low in sugar.

Soutirage - Racking.

Sur lie - Aged on its less.

Superieur/e - A term which indicates a higher degree of alcohol.

Surmaturite - Over-ripeness.

Tastevin - A shallow, dimpled metal cup used primarily in Burgundy for tasting.

Terroir - “Earth”, but meaning the factors that affect a vine, e.g. soil, slope, climate.

Tete de cuvee - The first and the finest flow of juice from the newly crushed grapes.

VDQS - Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure, quality level below AOC but above vin de pays.

Vendange - Harvest.

Vendange tardive - Late harvest.

Vieilles vignes - The oldest and best vines.

Vigne - Vine.

Vigneron - Vineyard worker.

Vignoble - Vineyard.

Vine de garde - Classic wine capable of improvement if allowed to age.

Vin de pays - “Country wine” with some regional character. Quality level above the basic vin de table and below VDQS.

Vin de presse - Press wine.

Vin doux naturel - A wine which has been fortified before all the sugar has been fermented out.

Vin gris - A very pale rose.

Vin de table/vin ordinaire - Basic, everyday wine, from no particular area.

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History of wine
Choosing Wine
Keeping Wine
Serving Wine
Tasting Wine
Wine and Food
Making of Wine
Maturing Wine
Wine Terminology
Creating A Cellar
Facts And Fallacies
Wine Glossary
Reading Wine Label
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