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.