Wine 101: Wine Terms Decoded

Learning about wine is more than just tasting the world. It’s a journey through history, geography, culture and the environment. In addition to the basics; knowing the differences between varietals or how to navigate wine list, there are some wine terms that are often cited but not easily understood unless studied. We’ve created a list of some important and relevant terms when diving into the world of wine. Drink Well.
Assemblage is a wine-making technique involving the blending of various lots prior to bottling. Assemblage makes it possible to create balanced wines without compromising the unique features of each varietal.
Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. Biodynamics is rooted in the work of philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, whose 1924 lectures to farmers opened a new way to integrate scientific understanding with a recognition of spirit in nature. Biodynamics has continued to develop and evolve since the 1920s through the collaboration of many farmers and researchers. Around the world, biodynamics is alive in thousands of thriving gardens, farms, vineyards, ranches, and orchards. The principles and practices of biodynamics can be applied anywhere food is grown, with thoughtful adaptation to scale, landscape, climate, and culture.
Blancs des Blancs is a still or sparkling white wine made from white grapes only.
Brut is level of dosage used in sparkling wine between 0-12 g/L
Chaptialization is the correction or improvement of must by the addition of sugar to increase alcoholic strength.
Cru is a French wine term which is traditionally translated as "growth", as it was originally the past participle of the verb "croître" (to grow). It is closely connected to terroir in the sense of an "extent of terrain having a certain physical homogeneity, and status.
Cuvée is a blend, or batch of wine. In Champagne it refers to the press cycle.
Domaine is an estate that makes and bottles wine from its own grapes
Dosage is a small amount of wine used in sparkling wine production (usually mixed with sugar) that is added back to the bottle once the yeast sediment that collects in the neck of the bottle is disgorged. Also known as liqueur d'expedition.
Malolactic Fermentation is a process in winemaking in which tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grape must, is converted to softer-tasting lactic acid. Malolactic fermentation is most often performed as a secondary fermentation shortly after the end of the primary fermentation, but can sometimes run concurrently with it. The process is standard for most red wine production and common for some white grape varieties such as Chardonnay, where it can impart a "buttery" flavor from diacetyl, a byproduct of the reaction. Malolactic fermentation tends to create a rounder, fuller mouthfeel. Malic acid is typically associated with the taste of green apples, while lactic acid is richer and more buttery tasting.
Pétillant Naturel or Méthode Ancestrale informally known as “Pet-Nat” is a method of sparkling wine production used all over the world. Unlike traditional-method sparkling wines, like Champagne, which add sugar and yeast to dry, still wine in order triggers a second fermentation and produces bubbles.
Phylloxera are aphids or root lice that attack Vitis vinifera roots. The vineyard pests were widespread in both Europe and California during the late 19th century, and returned to California in the 1980s.
Residual Sugar (or RS) is from natural grape sugars remaining in a wine after the alcoholic fermentation finishes. It's measured in grams per liter.
Sommelier is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing. The role in fine dining today is much more specialized and informed than that of a wine waiter. A sommelier may be responsible for the development of wine lists, and books and for the delivery of wine service and training for the other restaurant staff. Working along with the culinary team, they pair and suggest wines that will best complement each particular food menu item. This entails the need for a deep knowledge of how food and wine, beer, spirits and other beverages work in harmony. A professional sommelier also works on the floor of the restaurant and is in direct contact with restaurant patrons. The sommelier has a responsibility to work within the taste preference and budget parameters of the patron.
Tannins are a class of astringent, polyphenolic biomolecules that bind to and precipitate proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids. The astringency from the tannins is what causes the dry and puckery feeling in the mouth following the consumption of unripened fruit, red wine or tea.
Traditional Method is a process used in the Champagne region of France to produce Champagne. It is also the method used in various French regions as Crémant, in Spain to produce Cava, in Portugal to produce Espumante and in Italy to produce Franciacorta. The method is known as the Méthode Champenoise, but the Champagne producers have successfully lobbied the European Union to restrict the use of that term within the EU only to wines produced in Champagne. Thus, wines from elsewhere cannot use the term "méthode champenoise" on products sold in the EU, and instead the term “Traditional Method” (Méthode Traditionnelle).