Don’t know a wine term? The Wine Jargon Toolkit can help!

I hope that you find this quick dictionary helpful. I will be adding terms to the Mommelier Wine Jargon Toolkit as I write more and more. As always, if you have a good term that should be in the dictionary, I am all ears…tell me about it.


Tannins – substance found in black grape skins that give a red wine structure and complexity. Tannins are identified as that dry stuff in your mouth that is felt on your teeth and gums.

Acidity – comes from grape juice and is very important to wine. You can identify it acidity in wine as the mouthwatering sensation (floods from the bottom up). Acidity balances a wine.

7 Noble Wines – international varieties that grow well in many climates and also tend to be consistent in flavor. 3 White Grapes: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rielsing. 4 Red Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah/Shiraz.

Chianti Classico – a wine produced in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy that is typically a blend of at 80% sangiovese grapes (minimum is 70%) and 20% other grapes. It was historically associated with a straw basket called a Fiasco, which is now only used by a few makers. The original blend was made during the medieval times by the Ricasoli family.

Terroir – the natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as soil, topography and climate. The characteristic taste and flavor are imparted into a wine.

Vintage Champagne – a portion of the best wine from exceptional years can be used to make a vintage champagne.

Non-Vintage Champagne – to achieve quality and consistency most champagne base wines is a blend of several vintages.

Champagne –  the most famous traditional-method sparkling wine that is named after a French Appellation Controlée (AC) region in Northern France. The region is known for its cool climate and chalky soils. The base wine of champagne is made from Pinot Noir. Pinot Meaner, and Chardonnay grapes that are high in acidity, medium bodied, and low alcohol.

Crémant – a sparkling wine made using the traditional method in regions outside of Champagne in France The biggest production is from the Loire Valley and uses the Chenin Blanc grape. The wines are generally high in acidity, green and citrus fruit flavors, some autolytic tastes (lees contact), but less complex than champagne.

Cava – the Spanish term for traditional-method sparkling wines. The main grapes are local varieties and most production comes from the Catalunya region. The wines have fairly neutral fruit flavors, medium acidity (less than champagne9, very little autolytic complexity. Some use some Chardonnay in their blends to give more complexity. Best consumed as quick as possible after release.

Méthode Cap Classique – term used in South Africa for sparkling wines made by the traditional method.

Prosecco – a sparkling wine from the north-east Italy (near the Veneto) that is typically made using the tank method. The wine is made from the Glera grape which gives medium body, intense floral and fruity flavors and delicate stone fruits (peaches). Some are fully sparkling (spumante) and some are just lightly sparkling (frizzante).

Asti DOCG – a sweet, fruit, light-bodied sparkling wine made in the Piemonte region of north-west Italy. Made from the Muscat grape. Intensely floral and fruity flavors (peach, grape, rose). Typically fully sparkling, but wines labelled Moscato d’Asti are lightly sparkling and lower in alcohol, but higher in sugar content.

Sekt – the German word for sparkling wine. There re some very good quality Sekt’s produced in Germany and Austria, but most are simple and inexpensive tank method wines. Can be medium sweet or dry and are generally light in body with floral and fruity flavors.

Bottle Fermentation Methods: Traditional Method / Transfer Method

Tank Method Fermentation for Sparkling Wine


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