Wine Glossary

Italian Wine Tasting Tours & Holidays

Azienda agricola
This term refers to a winery which also produces other products, such as jams, cheeses or prosciutto.

Bricco
Piedmontese dialect term referring to the top of a hill, used to denote a particularly prestigious wine.

Cantini Sociale
Wine-producing co-op where several growers contribute grapes to a shared product.

Chianti
Region in Tuscany known for fruity red wines, also the wine produced from Sangiovese grapes.

Chianti Classico
A micro-region in the Chianti D.O.C. region, also refers to the in-bottle method of fermentation used to produce Classico wines.

Color
The color denotes a wines age, whites turn darker, more golden as they age and reds tend to turn orange-brown.

D.O.C.Denominazione di Origine Controllata;
(Denomination of controlled origin). Controlled wines must carry this government certification
stating the viticultural region produced and method used. This is a branch of Italian legislature that ensures quality of wines produced.

D.O.C.G.Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita;
(Denomination of controlled origin and guarantee of quality) In addition to meeting the D.O.C. guidelines, these wines may be released only after being tasted by government wine tasters
to ensure the maximum quality. Tuscan D.O.C.G. wines include Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti and Chianti Classico, Vernaccia di San Gimignao, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Earthy
A term used to describe a certain wines that have a taste reminiscent of earth.

Enology
The science of wine production. An enologist is a wine-maker, an enophile is a wine-lover. In Italy, an enoteca is a wine library or shop specializing in wines.

Fattoria
Tuscan term for a vineyard with it’s own production facility.

Fermentation
The process by which sugar in grape juice reacts to yeast to produce wine.

Filtration
The process by which wine is clarified before bottling. Removes sediment and impurities.

Fining
The process before filtration in which certain substances ( for example, egg whites) are added to the wine to capture and remove impurities.

I.G.T ( Indacazione Geografiche Tipiche)
A classification between V.D.T wines and D.O.C. wines.

Grappa
An after dinner digestive drink, made from the remnants of wine production (skin, seeds and stems). It is between 40-60% alcohol, or 80 to 120 proof.

Green
A term used in describing an under-ripe, vegetable like flavor in wine.

Herbaceous
A term used to describe a certain flavor, usually resulting from under-ripe grapes or grapes grown in a cool climate.

Hollow
Wine lacking depth or body.

Legs
A term used to describe how a wine “sticks” to the inside of a wine glass after swirling.

Metodo Classico or Tradizionale
Official terminology and methods for making spumanti (sparkling) wines,
second fermentation taking place in the bottle.

Nose
The sum of a wines aromas

Oak-y
The flavors and aromas found in wood fermented wines.

Organic
Grown without fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.

Oxidated
Wine that has been exposed to too much air, rendering it undrinkable.
Passito
A sweet, white dessert wine with a relatively high alcohol content. Served with hard Italian cookies. Made from grapes that have dried on the vine.

Ph
An expression of a wines acidity referring to it’s hydrogen content.

Podere
A typical Tuscan enterprise, similar to a fattoria but on a smaller scale.

Riserva
Wines that have a longer aging period according to D.O.C. guidelines, typically three years in barrel before bottling.

Sangiovese
A base red grape native to Tuscany, the base for Chianti, Chianti Classico, Brunello, and Scansano, among many others.

Silky
Term used to describe a particularly smooth textured wine.

Sommelier
A wine steward, but can also mean a person with degrees in enology.

Spicy
Term used to describe tangy or sharp flavors or aromas reminiscent of wood and spices.

Superiore
A vintage wine that gains an increase in alcohol content through aging.

Super Tuscan
A Tuscan wine blend that is not made according to D.O.C. rules. Quite often a most superior wine. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are most often used as well as Sangiovese.

Steely
A term used to describe very acidic wines not aged in barrels

Stemmy
A term used to describe harsh, under-ripe, green wines.

Supple
A smooth, balanced wine.

Tannins
Phenolic compounds found in grape skins and pits, provide an astringent quality and structure to wines. During aging, tannins become less harsh.

Varietal
Wines produced from one grape and often named for that grape. Opposite of a blend.

Vigna
Vineyard

V.D.T ( Vino da Tavola) 
A generic denomination for non-specific wines without origin or classification. A table wine, reasonably priced, that can actually be of excellent quality.

Vino Novello
Light and fruity wines sold in as soon as a month after harvest.

Vin Santo
A sweet Tuscan wine made from late harvest Trabbiano and Malvasia grapes.

Vintage
A particular year of grape harvest.

Viticulture
The science and business of managing a vineyard.