Semi-dry. Less sweet than amabile.
Aeration. Letting a wine "breathe" in the open air by swirling it in a glass. It is debatable whether aerating bottled wines (mostly reds) improves their quality. Aeration can soften young, tannic wines, but it may fatigue older ones.
Smokey. A descriptor for wines that have aromas and flavours of smoked wood and earth.
Italian for bitter. It is used to describe several types of digestives.
A wine's vintage year.
The smell of a wine, especially in the first years of maturity, when the prevalent smell is related to the grapes (also called primary); the character of a wine as determined by the smell. Also called aroma; includes bouquet.
AROMA DI FIORE
Flowery. A description of the aroma of a young wine that smells of flowers.
A descriptor for a wine whose odor smells of the grapes from which it was made. The scent is constant.
Dry. A wine that has no or little sweetness. Can also apply to the texture of wine, as a synonym for "Astringent".
Oaky. A questionable descriptor of wines whose aromas and flavours have been strongly influenced by either barrel-fermentation or excessive barrel aging. Not a compliment.
Cellar or winery.
The historic core of a DOC wine production zone.
Complex. A descriptor for fine wines that have many layers of aromas and flavours, usually well integrated by maturity.
Consortium of producers.
Body. The textural impression of the wine's weight in the mouth, a combination of alcohol and sugar, rather than flavour intensity. Subcategories are light-bodied, medium-bodied and full-bodied.
Decant. The process of separating the sediment from a wine before drinking. Accomplished by pouring the wine from its bottle into another container.
Sweet. Sweetness is the dominant sensation in tasting the wine. There is a high residual sugar content because the grape sugar is not completely converted to alcohol.
Balance. The agreement of the main components (alcohol, sugar, acid, and the like) in a wine, usually achieved by fine wines in the form of balance of flavours.
Herbaceous. A description of a wine with an aroma of fresh grass or hay (typical of Cabernet Franc or Merlot).
FERMENTATO IN BOTTE
Barrel-fermented. It is said of wines that are fermented and completely vinified in wood (usually oak) barrels, allowing for more complexity, and better integration.
Fermentation. The process by which yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, thereby turning grape juice into wine.
Firm. A descriptor for wines that are solid and stern, usually with a high tannin or acidity.
Fortified. Describes a wine whose alcohol content has been increased by the addition of brandy or neutral spirits.
Crisp. A descriptor for wines that feel clean, fresh, and slightly pungent in the mouth. Opposite of "Soft".
An Italian term to describe a wine that is fizzy and lightly bubbling.
Fruity. A broad descriptor for wines that have aromas and flavours that suggest fruit (better if broken down into specific types of fruit, as apples or pears). Misperceived as a synonym for "Sweet", while all sound wines must be, in some degree and at some stage of their maturation.
Generous. A descriptor for wines that are expressive and pleasant, but rarely subtle and complex.
A descriptor for wines that are rich, full, intense, and usually high in alcohol.
IMBOTTIGLIATO DAL PRODUTTORE ALL'ORIGINE
Bottled by the producer at the source.
IMBOTTIGLIATO DALLA CANTINA SOCIALE
Bottled by a cooperative winery.
INVECCHIAMENTO IN BOTTIGLIA
A part of the maturation process that takes place in the bottle before release. It allows the wine to reach chemical and organoleptic stability, and to develop more complex aromas and flavours.
Silky. A descriptor of wines that have a smooth, elegant texture (mouthfeel).
Mature. Ready to drink.
Metodo classico or tradizionale. Terms for sparkling wine made by the bottle fermentation method, replacing the terms champenois or champenoise, which can no longer be used in Italy.
Vintage dated sparkling wine.
Soft. It is said of a wine that has little or no acidity and tannin (potentially a problem for balance).
Must. The unfermented juice of grapes extracted by crushing or pressing; the grape juice in the cask or vat before it is converted into wine.
Stale. Descriptor for wines that have lost their fresh, youthful qualities; opposite of fresh.
Wine style made from partially dried grapes (to concentrate flavours). Technique typically used to make sweet wines.
Length. The sustained impression on the palate of the finish of the wine, a sign of quality.
Full. A descriptor for a wine that has a vast odor produced by numerous substances.
Potent. Intense and powerful.
PROFUMO DI TERRA
Earth. A descriptor for wines that have aromas and flavours reminiscent of the soil and its minerals, an important component of the wine's flavour balance.
Pungent. A wine with a powerful, assertive smell linked to a high level of acidity.
Wine made from partly dried grapes in the Passito style. Often sweet and strong.
Aftertaste. The flavours that linger on the tongue after tasting, spitting or swelling wine. Also called the "Finish", it is the most important factor in judging a wine's character and quality. The best wines have rich, long, complex aftertastes.
Rich. Wines with generous, full, pleasant flavours, usually sweet and round in nature. In dry wines, richness may be from a high alcohol and glycerin content, complex flavours and an oaky vanilla character. Sweet wines are called rich when the sweetness is backed by fruity, ripe flavours.
Reserve. Indicates a DOC or DOCG wine aged for a specific time period. Implies a wine is of better than average quality, thereby meriting the additional ageing.
Robust. Full-bodied, intense and vigorous; can mean a bit overblown.
Round. A quality of wines that have good "balance" and "structure", and are not perceived as harsh, angular, or flat.
Brut. Dry, usually in reference to sparkling wine.
Off-dry. Medium sweet, usually in sparkling wine; A broad descriptor that identifies wines neither totally dry nor sweet.
Astringent. A descriptor for the textural sensation of the dryness and roughness left in the mouth (more precisely, on the gums and palate) by wines high in tannin, acid or both.
Thin. It is said of wines that lack substance and structure.
Spicy. A description of a wine that is matured for a long time in barrels then in bottles, and has an aroma and taste of spices like cloves, mint, cinnamon or pepper.
Fading. A descriptor for a wine that is losing colour, fruit or flavour, usually as a result of age.
Structure. The architecture of a wine, both chemically and organoleptically, is a combination of its main component and its most distinctive flavours.
Denotes DOC wine that meets standards above the normal requirements (higher alcohol, longer aging, a special subzone), though conditions vary.
Tannin. An acid present in the stems, pips, and skins of grapes that becomes a very important component of red (and some white) wines. It is also found in the wood barrels used for maturation, where it can alter the balance of a wine.
Tart. A descriptor for wines with high acid content and unripe fruit flavours. Not a compliment.
Lingering. Describes persistence of flavour in a wine after tasting. When the aftertaste remains on the palate for several seconds, it is said to be lingering.
Farm or estate.
Grape. Uva Passa is a dried grape to be used for wine.
Old, to describe aged DOC wines; Stravecchio, very old.
Vegetal. A broad descriptor for wines that have aromas and flavours that suggest vegetables, plants, or even herbs.
Vineyard. Vigna may be used under DOC and DOCG for approved single vineyard wines.
Vintner. Wine merchant ("Commerciante di Vini" or "Vinaio"); wine producer or winery owner ("Produttore di Vini"); wine maker ("Enologo")
Wine of the most recent vintage made in an easy-drinking and fruity style for early consumption, akin to the French "Nouveau".
Wine made from grapes dried on straw mats over the winter to concentrate flavours.
Viticulture or the cultivation, science and study of grapes.
Vine or grape variety.
Lively, for lightly bubbly wines.