accessible: A wine that is easy to drink early on.
acetic acid: An acid that is found in small proportions in all wines. When combined with ethyl acetate, it gives the vinegary smell that a spoiled wine emits.
acidic: One of the four basic taste sensations, tart or sour. This is felt along the sides of the tongue. All wines contain some acids, predominantly tartaric and malic. It contributes freshness and structure to white wines. Winemakers try to pick the grapes when there is the perfect balance of sugar to acid content. Young, green (unripe) wines are generally more acidic than older ones and cool climate wines can be more acidic that warm climate ones. An unbalanced wine may taste sour because of an abnormally high acid content.
aftertaste: Synonymous with finish.
alcohol: One of the products, along with carbon dioxide, of basic fermentation. Alcohol gives the wine body (weight in the mouth), flavor (roundness and sweetness) as well as providing balance and a certain chemical and physical stability to wines. The primary alcohol is known as ethyl alcohol or ethanol, but there are dozens of other so-called "higher" alcohols which though in minute quanitites provide hundreds of flavors.
alcoholic: A wine with an excess of alcohol. These wines are often called heavy or hot and can actually burn in the back of the throat.
amabile: An Italian semi-sweet wine.
appellation controlée (AOC): French designation guaranteeing origin, grape varieties and method of production - and presumably - quality.
apples: One of the acids in wine is malic acid which is the acid of a Granny Smith apple, tart and crisp. Some German Rieslings, some Chardonnays, and some Chenin blanc wines smell and/or taste of apples as part of their varietal character. Some wines smell and taste of ripe red apples as well.
apricots: Sémillons, Muscats (Moscatos), Viogniers, and some sweet Rieslings recall apricots: wines affected by Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, may often recall apricots or peaches.
aroma: Often used interchangeably with bouquet, but it is simply a nicer word for smell. Typically it applies to the more fruit-based impressions of a young wine. (see bouquet)
aromatic: Term applied to wines with a particularly distinctive aroma, especially when young
asparagus: Sauvignon Blanc based wines, especially Pouilly-Fumés, Sancerres or those of New Zealand will often recall asparagus.
assemblage: This is the art of blending wines from different grape varieties, especially Bordeaux and Champagne.
astringent: The dry, puckering effect on the inside of the mouth due to tannins.
auslese: A mostly sweet German wine from selected ripe grapes that have usually been affected with botrytis. Meaning "outpicked" these grapes are hand selected bunch by bunch. (see QmP)
austere: The effect of a hard and unyielding texture in wine due to acid or tannin. Often applied to young prestigious wines that have not had time to age and develop. (see lean)
balance: A wine in which all of the component parts are in harmony, and none masks the other. The relationship between alcohol (body), acid, fruitiness, earthiness, sweetness and oak depends on the grape variety and the origin.
bananas: very young wines--tank samples, wines which have undergone a very cold fermentation or carbonic maceration will often smell like bananas. The component responsible for this is iso-amyl acetate, which diminishes with age. This taste is considered standard for Beaujolais Nouveau.
barnyard: very often in the smell of some Burgundies and Rhônes you can imagine an animal-rich. This earthy odor can be quite shocking and off-putting. But the rewards can be tremendous.
beerenauslese: A sweet German wine from selected ripe grapes usually affected with botrytis. Beeren means berry and these grapes are hand picked, berry by berry, for perfect ripeness. (see QmP)
berries: A very common characteristic of reds wines, especially Zinfandels and Beaujolais.
big: A hearty, rich wine that is a powerhouse of flavors and textures. The best California Zinfandels, and the wines from the Rhone Valley in France are quite often very big.
bitter: One of the four basic taste sensations. Tannin is a bitter element in wines and can arise from the grape skins and seeds or from the oak barrel itself.
black currant: Bordeaux wines with a high percentage of Cabernet-Sauvignon, and similarly-based California wines may recall blackcurrant or cassis flavor as do some Syrahs.
blanc de blancs: Simply speaking, a white wine made from white grapes. Most important in Champagne, where a blanc de blancs is 100% Chardonnay.
blanc de noirs: A white, or slightly pink wine, made from red grapes. The juice is quickly removed from the skins so as to pick up very little of their color. In Champagne, the red grapes are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
bodega: Winery or producer in Spanish.
body: The impression of the weight of the wine in the mouth due to a combination of alcohol and other flavor components. Warm climate wines, due to the increased ripeness of the grapes, have greater weight and seem fuller.
botrytis cinerea: A fungal infection that affects and shrivels grapes. The water evaporates and the sugars in the juice are concentrated. The fungus, also called noble rot, adds interesting flavors to the final product included peaches, apricots and spices. Tokay and Sauternes are just two of the so called botrytized wines.
bouquet: As opposed to aroma, bouquet is more encompassing. These are the more mature and subtle smells of the wine resutling from the winemaking process more than the fruit.
breed: Think of a thoroughbred. These wines have particularly refined qualities.
brettanomyces: A rogue yeast that can negatively affect the taste and smell of wine. It is very difficult to get rid of once it has infected the winemaking surfaces. The odors range from barnyard to shoe polish. In small amounts, however, these smells can add interest to the wine.
brilliant: When looking at a glass of wine, focus on the reflection on the surface. They should be perfectly clear, without haziness. Brilliant or bright wines often have higher than normal acidities.
brix: a measure of grape solids in a juice sample, usually at picking time. The great majority of these solids are sugars which are fermentable into alcohol. By measuring the brix of grape juice at picking, it is possible to estimate the final alcoholic content of the wine.
brut: The term for one of the driest types of sparkling wine in a company’s line. Only Brut nature (or sauvage, or zero) is drier.
buttery: Often said of Chardonnay-based wines that have undergone a malolactic conversion/fermentation. This can be the actual smell of buttery or a creamy, buttery texture. (see malolactic fermentation)
capsule: The sheath that covers the cork. Can be plastic or tin.
casky: An unpleasant smell of damp or rotting wood from old or unclean casks.
carbonic maceration: A method whereby uncrushed grapes are fermented under a blanket of carbon dioxide. The juice will actually ferment inside of the berry. The resulting wines are very fresh and meant to be consumed young. Beaujolais Nouveau is a prime example.
cedary: This is a smell that is usually associated with wines aged in new oak.
chalky: This earthy quality is very closely connected with the terroir and the composition of the soil.
character: A wine that piques the interest. Often a wine that makes you want to linger and savor every mouthfull.
cherry or black cherry): This fruit on the nose or palate is the hallmark of Pinot noir. Can also be found in the Spanish Tempranillo based wines.
chewy: A wine with so much going on, especially tannins, that it feels as if it could be chewed.
citrus: One of the many types of fruit flavors to be found in wines and includes, grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange. Often associated with cooler climate white wines like New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs or Rieslings.
chaptalization: This is the addition of sugar during fermentation in order to raise the final alcoholic content of the wine and often mask the effects of a poor vintage with unripe grapes.
charmat method: A method used to produce less expensive sparkling wines. The second fermentation occurs in a pressurized tank instead of in the individual bottle (see méthode champenoise). The result is a fresher, more fruit driven sparkling wine. One example of a Charmat sparkler is Italy's Prosecco.
chateau: Literally means castle in French but this name which applies to winemakers in Bordeaux can be a simple farmhouse.
chêne: French oak.
clairet: This term was traditionally applied to a pale pink wine from the Bordeaux region. (see claret)
claret: The pale pink clairet became very popular in England in the 12th Century. But now the term claret is applied to all Bordeaux reds.
clean: A wine that is free of faults or impurities. It can also be used to mean fresh or pure.
clone: A specific strain of a given grape variety. Pinot Noir is especially given to cloning. Over 300 separate clones have been identified.
clos: From the term "cloister" in French it was a vineyard that was built on former Church-owned lands. Used mostly in Burgundy and now simply means a walled vineyard.
closed: A wine that seems to have a certain presence to it, but the qualities are hard to determine. Might benefit from some more bottle aging.
cloudy: A murky quality in wine from suspended sediment. Rarely seen in today's wines unless the bottle states "unfiltered".
cloves: An earthy/spicy quality that is usually the mark of new French oak.
cloying: Used to describe sweet wines that do not have enough balancing acidity.
cold fermentation: A method of fermenting grape juice into wine at lowered (c. 55 degrees F.) temperatures in order to conserve as much primary and secondary fruit character as possible. This method produces many of the world's most approachable wines.
complex: Opposite of simple or one-dimensional, a complex wine is many-faceted. Each sip brings another flavor, reveals another nuance.
cooked: A critical description of tastes and smells from a wine that has been subjected to excess heat. Also jammy.
corked(y): A musty odor that indicates that the wines may not have been stored properly. The smells mask the wine's own aromas and tastes.
creamy: A wine that has the rich smooth consistency of cream. Mainly use when describing red wines.
cremat: Mostly used to describe a sparkling wines produced outside of the Champagne region in France.
crianza: This term on a bottle of Spanish wine literally means aged in wood.
crisp: A lively acidity in a wine, like that of a Granny Smith apple.
cross: The breeding of one variety of grape with another to obtain a more desirable offspring.
cru: Specifically means growth, but is applied to French wines that meet a certain standard of terroir and winemaking practices.
crush: in wine lingo, the time of year when the grapes are picked and processed. Grapes for the so-called "finer" wines are not literally and dramatically crushed, but are broken open to allow their juice to run out. The part of the winery on which this process occurs is called the crush pad.
decant: A wine is slowly poured from the bottle to another container (the decanter) either to separate the clear liquid from the solids an old wine might have accumulated, or to aerate a wine, to oxygenate it.
definition: A wine that has a particularly clear cut profile, one in which every element is discernible.
dégorgée: The process in which the yeast sediments are forced from the bottle of Champagne after maturation.
demi-sec: A medium dry (slightly sweet) French wine.
DOC(G): denominazione di origine controllata (e garantita). The Italian quality designation based on grape variety and origin. Garantita implies better quality.
domaine: French wine estate, especially in Burgundy.
dosage: The addition of a sweetened syrup to dry Champagne that occurs after dégorgement. It replaces the volume lost to the yeast and sets the desired level of sweetness.
dry: A dry wine is one without noticeable sweetness. Technically, a dry wine retains little or no sugar after fermentation.
dumb: Another word for closed. You sense that something is there, but you can't, at present, detect it.
earthy: An impression of damp soil, a dry garden just after a rain. For the ViniCode, this category also includes spicy, mineral and vegetal smells and tastes. This is a positive attribute and the reflection of a particular terroir.
eiswein: An ultra-concentrated sweet wine made from grapes that have been allowed to linger on the vine until the first frost freezes the grapes. This is a rare and natural occurrence and does not include artificially frozen grapes. (see QmP)
enoteca: An Italian term that literally means "wine library", but has now come to mean any wine shop.
estate-bottled: This indicates that the wine was grown, picked, fermented and bottled on that particular estate.
esters: Chemicals that are by-products of fermentation. They are responsible for most of the fruit and vegetal aromas in wine.
fat: This is a derogatory term that is used to describe wines that are out of balance with regard to alcohol content. These wine lack structure, or backbone.
figs: This is a fruit characteristic and is often associated with very ripe grapes and warm climates.
filter: The process of removing particulate matter from the wine that might affect the overall appearance. Some wines are sold unfiltered.
fining: Clarifying a wine before bottling. Many substances can be used including egg whites, bentonite clay or isinglass.
finish: These are the impressions that linger in the throat after the wine has been warmed by the mouth. The best wines will have a long and pleasant finish.
flabby: An out of balance wine that does not have enough acidity to give it structure.
flat: For a still wine, one that is not very interesting, lacking in bouquet, and acidity. For sparkling wines, it means that the wine has lost its bubbles.
flinty: A mineral aroma associated with acidic, dry whites wines mostly from Sancerre and Chablis. An earthy quality in the ViniCode.
flor: This is applied to sherries. It literally translates as "flower" but refers to the bacterial growth that blooms on the top of fine sherry and gives it a pleasant "just baked bread" quality.
flowery: Any of the aromas associated with flowers. In the ViniCode, these descriptors fall under the fruit category.
fortified: A wine that has had grape spirits added to it often to increase the alcohol content as in ports. (see spirits)
free run: wine that is allowed to flow by gravity from the fermenter. It is considered lighter and less rich than press wine, but is often blended with it to arrive at a balanced product. (see press wine)
fresh: A wine that is youthful and lively, often with bracing acidity.
frizzante: An Italian, lightly sparkling wine. Lambrusco or Moscato d'Asti can be described as frizzante. (see pétillant)
fruit: The presence of fruit flavors and aromas in a wine. In the Vinicode this can include tree fruits like apples and plums, citrus fruits like limes and lemons, tropical fruits like pineapples and even floral scents like rose or honeysuckle.
full: A wine with significant weight in the mouth. This is related to the alcohol content, the residual sugar as well as other factors.
gamey: Can be a positive description of a wine that has the characteristic of fresh game. But if out of balance, the wine can be almost undrinkable.
goût de terroir: The taste of the terroir. A wine that has the smells and tastes of the region, the climate, the soil as well as the particular grape variety.
grand cru: Translates as "greatest growth". French term for the finest wines of a particular region.
grapey: The impression in a wine of a grape in its raw form. Muscat and Riesling wines are often described as grapey.
grassy: Wines that smell or taste of grass. In a positive sense, the Sauvignon Blancs of New Zealand can be quite grassy. This falls under the earthy category in the ViniCode.
gravelly: A mineral quality that is often associated with the wines from Graves and Medoc in the Bordeaux region. This is an earthy quality in the ViniCode.
green: A wine that tastes of unripe fruit and unbalanced acidity. May also mean a wine that is too young and could benefit from more bottle aging.
green bell peppers: In the ViniCode this would be considered an earthy quality. The chemical that produces the smells and tastes of green pepper are closely associated with the Cabernet Sauvignon grape.
grip: A pleasant firmness of texture in some red wines usually due to tannins, which gives definition to red wines.
halbtrocken: An off-dry (slightly sweet) German wine. Literally translates as "half dry".
hard: An unpleasant firmness of texture in unbalanced red or white wines.
herbaceous: Green or vegetal characteristics. They can be good or bad depending on the wine and the taster. These are earthy qualities in the ViniCode.
hot: A wine with too much alcohol. It can actually create a burning sensation in the back of the mouth.
hybrid: Grape varieties produced by hybridizers in the lab, often but not always involving more than one species, are called hybrids. One example is the French-American hybrid Seyval Blanc. Natural hybrids also occur.
hydrogen sulfide: A chemical that forms at the very end of fermentation. The smell of rotten eggs found in wines. This smell will often dissipate if the wine is allowed to breathe.
kabinett: The first step on the German ladder of quality. Kabinett wines must be made from fully ripened grapes. (see QmP)
labrusca: Species of grape whose descendants are widely distributed in America’s Midwest and Northeast. They are seen as inferior to the Vitis Vinifera, the traditional winemaking grapes of Europe. (see vitis vinifera)
late harvest: A wine that has been made from riper grapes, that have been left on the vine after the main harvest. These wines are often sweet with high amounts of residual sugar.
lean: Not necessarily a bad quality, but a wine that typically has little fruit character. May also be described as austere.
lees (lies): This is the sediment that settles to the bottom of the tank after fermentation. It consists of dead yeast cells as well as other grape solids including the skin and the seeds. (see sur lie)
length: Can be thought of in two ways; the flavor of the wine as it stimulates the entire length of the tongue, and the amount of time the taste lingers in the mouth after swallowing. Great wines have both. (see short)
legs: A characteristic of the wine's body. A more viscous wine (fuller in body) will create thicker, more slowly flowing legs as it descends along the glass after swirling. Also called tears.
light: Can be applied to the body of a wine - one that is subtle and fresh - or a wine with little or no scent.
lively: A wine with refreshing acidity.
luscious: Most often applied to sweet wines. Those that are rich and beautifully ripe.
maderized: A process used in Spain where winemakers intentionally heat the Madeira wine in little houses called estufas. It produces a unique, oxidized flavor.
malolactic fermentation: By adding a particular yeast to the fermenting wine, winemakers can convert the tart malic acid (green apples) to the rich and creamy lactic acid. Almost all red wines undergo malolactic fermentation, and some white wines (especially in Burgundy).
mellow: A soft wine without harshness, round but balanced.
méthode champenoise: literally, "(made by the) Champagne method" the classic, expensive and time-consuming way to produce Champagne and many other sparkling wines. In this method, the second fermentation (the fermentation that produces the bubbles) occurs in the bottle and not in a pressurized tank (see charmat method).
mint: An earthy quality in wine that may have to do with aging in French oak barrels, but it is also associated with Cabernet Sauvignons from California and Australia in particular.
moelleux: A French sweet wine designation.
mousse: The bubbles in a sparkling wine.
mushrooms: This earthy quality is associated with many older red wines. It is reminiscent of fresh, rich soil.
must: The mixture of grape juice, skins, seeds, and pulp in a red wine or the juice in a white wine vat before fermentation.
musty: This is most often a term used for mishandled wine. This smell tends not to dissipate.
NV: non-vintage. Wines that do not receive a vintage designation are classified as non-vintage. In the case of Champagne, several vintages are blended each year in order to produce a consistent house style. In truly extraordinary years a vintage Champagne may be produced.
noble rot: see botrytis cinerea.
nose: Another term used for the general smell of a wine.
nouveau: A term used to indicate a wine that has been made to capture the ultimate in freshness and fruit character but which seldom has any aging potential, especially in Beaujolais. Nouveaux or "new" wines are usually released for sale earlier than other wines. (see carbonic maceration)
nutty: The smell of various nuts, most often hazelnuts and walnuts. In the ViniCode this is an earthy quality.
oaky: Any of the qualities used to describe wines that are a result of oak barrel aging. These can include cedar, caramel, vanilla and popcorn.
off-smell/off-taste: Any of a host of bad smells or tastes in a wine.
oily: Associated with the texture of some wines especially Pinot Gris wines from Alsace and German Rieslings.
oxidized: All wines are oxidized to a degree because of the presence of oxygen in or near them. A high degree of oxidation is not desirable in most table wines, while in fortified wines, especially Sherries, a greater oxidation is attained and desired. A table wine smelling more like a Sherry and tasting generally lifeless is said to be more or less oxidized.
pH: The measure of the acidity in a wine. The lower the number, the higher the acidity. Typically around 3.5.
palate: A term that refers to the tasting surface. On the palate simply means on the tongue. A well developed palate is one that can sense many flavors and discern the subtleties of wine.
peaches: A tree fruit as categorized by the ViniCode. This luscious quality is sometimes sensed in sweet, late-picked wines affected by Botrytis, or many Muscat-flavored wines as well as many Viogniers.
pétillant: French for a lightly sparkling wine. (see frizzante)
petrol: One of the agreeably unique aroma characteristic of Rieslings. Smells very similar to kerosene.
phylloxera (vastatrix): Latin name for a new world vine-louse which was unknowingly transported to Europe and nearly destroyed their vineyards in the late 1800s. As a result, most new vineplants are grafted onto a phylloxera-resistant rootstock to ensure proper vine health and adequate bearing. Phylloxera remains a problem in most of the world's vinifera vineyards.
plums: This tree fruit (ViniCode) is a characteristic or many New World Merlots; round, soft and fruity.
pomace: The residue, usually grape skins, un-used pulp, and seeds, left after fermentation is completed. Pomace is sometimes plowed back into a field for fertilizer, but is often dumped for fear of contaminating a vineyard with parasites or other vine problems.
press wine: This is the portion of the wine that is pressed from the skins after the free run juice has bee extracted. It is usually richer in tannins and flavors, and is often partially blended back into the free run. (see free run)
prestige cuvée: The top wine of a particular Champagne house. Moet has Dom Perignon and Roederer has Cristal.
prickle: A delicate taste sensation derived from small amounts of residual carbon dioxide in "still" wines as opposed to the mouse of a sparkling wine.
prunes: A fruity characteristic in the ViniCode. This smell is prominent in some red wines from warm climates where the grapes have gotten extremely ripe.
QbA: Qualitatswein bestimmer Anbaugebiet. German for "quality wine from a designated area". A step above simple tafelwein (table wine) but below QmP. These grapes are not fully ripe and government regulations allow the addition of sugar to aid in fermentation. (see chaptalization)
QmP: Qualitatswein mit Pradikat. German for "quality wine with distinction". These are the top wines from Germany from fully ripened grapes. The six levels, from driest to sweetest, are kabinett, spatlese, auslese, beerenauslese, trockenbeerenaulese and eiswein.
rack: The process of separating the wine from the must in the holding tank. This also serves to aerate the wine.
raisiny: The flavor one senses in wines made from grapes that have dried on the vine. Most often encountered in hot-climate wines.
raspberrles: A fruity (ViniCode) quality found in some red wines both light and full bodied. Seen in the light Beaujolais wines and the bold Zinfandels.
residual sugar: The sugar left in the finished wine after fermentation.
robust: A full bodied wine. One in which finesse is not the point. California Zinfandels are a prime example.
round: A wine that goes down smooth, with no hard edges. The opposite of acidic.
satin: This refers to the smooth texture of a wine. Other words used to described the same quality are velvet, and silk.
sec/seco/secco: The term for dry in France, Spain and Italy respectively.
sekt: A German term for very basic sparkling wine.
sharp: A wine in which the acidity is out of balance and is bordering on unpleasant.
short: This is the opposite of length. A wine that does not stimulate the entire tongue, nor does it last on the palate. (see length)
skin contact: The longer the juice from red grapes spends in contact with the skins, the darker the color and the more tannins are extracted. Pink or rosé wines get their color from very brief skin contact.
smoky: Can be a characteristic of a particular wine, like Pouilly Fumé, or a taste influenced by barrel aging.
soft: A wine with a nice round texture due to a lack of tannins and acidity.
solera: A term referring to a method known as "fractional blending" in which older wines are blended with younger wines to arrive at a consistent, similar-tasting product. Authentic Sherries and many other fortified wines are produced using the solera method.
spatlese: The second level on the QmP scale. These grapes are late harvested making a wine that is sweeter than kabinett but drier than auslese. (see QmP)
spicy: An earthy quality (the ViniCode) that many wines will display. Some, like clove, may come from barrel aging. Others, like black pepper and simply a characteristic of a Zinfandel wine. The "gewurz" of Gewürztraminer means spicy.
spirits: Made from any distilled fermented liquid. Wine can be distilled into brandy.
spumonte: This is Italian for sparkling wine.
steely: Extreme acidity found in some white wines that benefit from prolonged aging. This includes Premier Cru Chablis, and Alsace Rieslings.
stemmy: A term applying either to wines actually having been fermented in contact with their stems, or to wines which, owing to an unusually brutal crushing or pressing, contain an excess of the bitter tannins.
structure: This is the skeleton of the wine and should support all of the other flavors and texture. Tannins provide the structure in red wines, and acid in white.
sulfur dioxide: A chemical added to most wines to stabilize it. Wine with an excess of sulfur dioxide will smell and/or taste like fresh-struck matches although it is rarely seen with today's technological advances.
sur lie: A French term for a wine that is allowed to age on its lies (lees). It is most commonly associated with the fairly neutral Muscadet grape. Sur lie aging in this case gives the wine more interest. (see lees)
sweet: One of the four basic tastes and due to the residual sugar and the alcohol in a wine. Sweet in the opposite of dry.
tannin: Found in the grape skins and seeds tannins add structure and aging potential to red wines. Tannins are polymers that love to combine. As red wines age the tannin molecules start out short and taste harsh and rough. But over time the molecules combine and can best be described as velvety. Tannins are also astringent. They combine with the saliva molecules in the mouth and make them unable to lubricate the surfaces. As a result you mouth feels furry.
tartrates: If a wine is perceived as too acidic it can be deliberately chilled before bottling which will allow tartaric acid to precipitate out as tartrates. Sometimes this happens after bottling and small crystals of tartrates may be found in the bottom or attached to the cork. They are a nuisance but harmless.
terroir: A term that encompasses all of the effects of location, soil and climate. Most of the greatest European wines are not meant to taste of the grape, but are to be a reflection of their unique terroir.
texture: This is the tactile qualities of wine. How the wine feels in the mouth. A good "mouthfeel" is as important as the flavor and smell.
thin: A watery wine that is lacking in body or alcohol.
toasty: Like the smell of fresh toast, particularly barrel aged Chardonnay and mature Champagnes. An oaky quality in the ViniCode.
traditional method: This is the same as the méthode champenoise. Because that name is proprietary, other region must use the name traditional method.
trocken: German for dry, often extremely so.
trockenbeerenauslese: The fifth rung of the QmP ladder of quality in German wines. Trocken means dry, but here it refers to grapes that have been left on the vine long enough to raisinate and concentrate the sugars. The wines are quite sweet with the additional flavors of noble rot. (see QmP)
ullage: The amount of space in a full bottle of wine between the bottom of the cork and the top of the wine. In an older wine a large ullage is expected, but in a young wine beware.
unfiltered: Filtering a wine can remove some unsightly particles, but many believe that it removes flavor as well. Some winemakers are electing to leave their wines unfiltered. This designation should be clearly marked on the label.
vanilla: One of the tastes and smells associated with oak in the ViniCode. This is especially prominent in new American oak barrels.
varietal: Relating to a single grape variety
varietal wine: A wine made from a single grape variety.
vegetal: In some wines this is seen as a compliment, as in New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, which emphasize their vegetal or grassy qualities. but in an Australian red wine, vegetal may mean unripe grapes and is not a good description.
vin de pays: The lowest level of wine in France that is still associated with a geographical location and still having some regional characteristics. Ranks just above vin de table.
vin de table: French table wine from no particular area. In Italian, vino da tavola.
vintage: The year in which the wine was produced. Some wines may not be retail ready for some years later. Knowing the vintage can help you determine the quality of the wine, by knowing the conditions during that year. (see NV)
vitis vinifera: The species of all of the European grape varities. (see labrusca)
volatile: The flavor components in wine are considered volatile. In other words these molecules are eager to escape in the air producing the incredible array of tastes and smells..
yeasty: The smell and taste of freshly baked bread, particulary in sparkling wines produced by the Champagne Method.