Wine 101

DeLiese Cellars loves sharing our passion for wine with whoever will listen (or taste!)  We recognize that the craft of wine making and tasting comes with many terms that are unfamiliar to some.  We hope this Wine Dictionary provides some insight to wine lovers who want to learn a little bit more about wine to further their enjoyment of our wines as well as others.

Wine Terminology

White wine is simply wine made with finesse.  White wines are also usually fermented at cooler temperatures, which maintain the fruit characteristics.  They are often delicate.  Common varietals for white wine in California are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Grigio.

Red wine utilizes the grape skins, producing drier flavors.  They are often more astringent than white wine and can feature new oak.  The character and flavor of red wine usually involves the barrels combination with the fruit.  Common varietals for red wine in California are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot, and Syrah.  Depending on the varietal we use a combination of French, American and Hungarian Oak or a combination of the three.  It just depends on what type of varietal your working with and the type of profile you are attempting to achieve.

A varietal is the type of grape used to create a certain wine.  A wine that is made up of mostly one grape varietal is typically named after the grape.  For example, a Chardonnay wine is made with the grape varietal Chardonnay.

The vintage of a wine is determined by the year the grapes were grown.  So, if a wine is a 2009 vintage that means that the grapes that made the wine were all grown and harvested during 2009.

AVA stands for American Viticultural Area.  Essentially, an AVA is a title given by the federal government that recognizes a particular region in America as having wines that have recognizable and distinct characteristics.  The AVA title puts regions on the map, allowing them to build a greater presence in the global wine industry by making a name for themselves.  For instance, the Malibu Coast AVA became classified in 2013.  Before then, wine labels from the region would legally be designated as “Los Angeles County.”

This means that the wine in a particular bottle is sourced only from one vineyard.  It usually communicates a superior varietal quality from a specific vineyard, creating a top quality wine by preserving the excellence of a particular vineyard.  Our Pinot Noir, Ardor, from Clarksburg is an exceptional example!

Tasting Terminology

The taste and feel of a particular wine in your mouth.

The scents that come from a particular wine varietal.  These are commonly fruity, herbal, or flowery smells.

Easily confused with aroma, the bouquet are the scents that result from the wine making process.  Different smells come from fermentation and the aging process.  The bouquet tends to be more diverse, ranging from yeasty to sugary to nutty.

The more layered parts of a wine’s overall taste or aroma.  These are small hints that add texture and complexity to a wine’s profile.

Tannins mostly come from the wine skins.  Mostly occurring in red wines, tannins add dryness to a wine, often making your mouth pucker.

This is ascribed to wines with a distinct tartness or freshness.  Acidity is helpful for balancing out tannins.

A term for a wine that isn’t very sweet because it has no residual sugar.

This is used to describe wines that are somewhat flat on the tongue.  They don’t have much tannins or acidity, and often have some residual sugar.  It’s most often used to describe certain red wines.

A wine that is fruit forward has a palate and aroma that is heavily influenced by fruit flavors, often diminishing any other elements of the wine’s profile.  They tend to be very sweet.

This term is usually used to describe white wines that feel refreshing or brisk on the tongue.  It’s most often caused by acidity.

A term to describe wines that are not sweet or fruit forward.  Savory wines often tart, sour, or bitter notes.

Wines become oaky most often in the barreling process.  Different kinds of oak barrels can create very different notes such as vanilla, spices, or black pepper.

This is used to describe a wine that is reminiscent of grape juice.

This term is used to describe wines that have a strong, powerful, or vibrant palate.  It largely has to do with the feel of the wine in your mouth.  A full-bodied wine is richer and thicker, like cream instead of skim milk.

This describes wines that are the opposite of full bodied, as they have a delicate mouth feel.

This is a term often used for rich or full-bodied wines that are so dense you almost feel the need to chew the wine before you swallow.

This describes wines that are between full and light bodied.

This word is used to discuss how the different elements of a wine come together such as tannins, acidity, and alcohol.

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