A wine’s vintage is the year the grapes were harvested. For example, grapes for a 2000 Pinot Noir were harvested in the fall of that year, fermented, and placed into oak barrels for aging. While the wine may have been bottled and sold well into 2001 or 2002, the label on the bottle will reflect a vintage of 2000. If an industry’s wines have had a “good vintage” year, it means that overall, conditions were ideal for growing grapes, and as a result, the wines should also be very good.
A vintage also serves a much more fundamental purpose: it gives the consumer an idea of how old the wine is, and can help in making decisions about purchasing, storing, caring for, and serving the wine.
The American Heritage Dictionary explains that “enology” (also spelled oenology) is “the study of wine and the making of wine; viticulture.” From the Greek word “oinos” meaning wine.
Wine is the fermented juice of fruit or berries. With regards to grapes, a wine may consist of a single type of grape, or may contain a blend of different grapes. It may also have contain additional fruits, alcohols, and other additives. Through different production processes and grapes, come many types of wine.
We’ve compiled the following chart of frequently used wine terms in several major foreign languages. When reading foreign literature on wines, you may find the following chart a handy tool for deciphering unfamiliar vocabulary.
|aroma, odor (noun)
||un arôme, une odeur
|barrel, cask (noun)
||un tonneau, une barrique
||un tonel, una barrica
||un barile, una botte
||die Tonne, das Weinfaß
|blush wine (noun)
||un vino rosado
||un vino rosato
||der Roséwein, der Schillerwein
||mettre (mise) en bouteille
||auf Flaschen ziehen
||un tapón, un corcho
||taponar, poner el corcho a
||in Garüng bringen
||le goût, la saveur
||un gusto, un sapore
||un’uva, un chicco d’uva
|grape harvest (noun)
||le vendange (la récolte des raisins)
||la vendimia (la cosecha de uvas)
||la vendemmia (la raccolta dei
||das Bukett, die Blume
|red wine (noun)
||un vin rouge
||un vino tinto
||un vino rosso
|taste wine (verb)
||déguster du vin
||una variedad, un vino monovarietal
||un varietà di vite
|vine growing (noun)
||una vigna, un vogneto
||der Weinberg, der Weingarten
||un cru, un vendange
||un’annata, una produzione
|white wine (noun)
||un vin blanc
||un vino blanco
||un vino bianco
|wine cellar (noun)
|wine glass (noun)
||un verre à vin
||una copa para vino
||un bicchiere da vino
|wine list (noun)
||une carte des vins
||una lista des vinos
||un elenco dei vini, una list dei vini
|wine steward, wine waiter (noun)
|wine tasting (noun)
||une dégustation de vins
||una degustación de vinos
||una degustazione dei vini
||un viñador, un viñatero
||der Weinbauer, der Weinhändler
||une cave de vinification
Wine and fermented juices have played a role in civilization for at least 8,000 years. In 2017, Residue containing tartaric acid, a signature of wine, was discovered in a the remains of a clay jar in the country of Georgia, dating to 8,000 years old.
Records by Egyptians give the first written account of grape wine, and date to around 2500 B.C. Egyptians employed much the same method for producing wines as are present today, including cultivating, fermenting, bottling, and storing wines. As with any refined skill that has weathered the years, the knowledge of winemaking has come and gone, its methods have evolved, and the final product has flourished.
Differences between red and white wines include the kinds of grapes used, the fermentation and aging process, and the character and flavor of the finished product.
First, the grapes themselves are noticeably different, with a predominantly red or white color of skin, although the juice of both types is mostly clear.
When fermented, additional pressing of the red grapes releases many tannins and colors into the wine, contributing to the deep, velvety color and flavor of red wines. Following fermentation, the wine may be matured and conditioned in oak barrels for several months. This will add additional wood tannins and flavors. As this could overpower the subtler flavors of white wines, few (such as Chardonnay) are aged in oak. These same tannins, however, help intensify and add richness to a red wine, which is why most reds are aged in oak.
The result is that red wines exhibit a set of rich flavors with spicy, herby and even meaty characteristics. On the other hand, white wines are light in character, with crisp, fruit flavors and aromas.
The term “appellation” varies slightly from country to country, but in the more basic sense, it is the region in which a wine was produced. The term “AVA” (American Viticultural Area) is the North American equivalent of the word ‘appellation’ and refers to a specific growing region.
Oregon has 17 official AVAs and several new ones are currently under review for consideration.
Though some wineries and vineyards are located outside of these regions, the majority of Oregon wines can be classified under a regional AVA.
Wines produced with grapes originating from more than one of these AVAs may simply be labeled as an Oregon wine.
For more information on AVA guidelines, please visit the following Web address:
A varietal is simply a single type of grape used in wine production.
A “varietal wine” is made predominantly from one type (or varietal) of grape.
Examples of varietals include Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Syrah.
In Oregon, a varietal wine must contain at least 90% of its wine from a single variety of grape. The other 10% may come from blending in other varietals, a practice commonly employed by wineries to produce unique flavors in their wines. This other 10% may also result from a vineyard whose vines containing a few “stray” varietals, which, unless expressly detected, may go unknown for years.
The only exception to Oregon’s 90/10 law is with Cabernet Sauvignon, which may contain up to 25% of another varietal.
A dry wine has had most or all of its natural sugars converted to alcohol during the fermentation process, producing a wine relatively strong in alcohol, but with very little sweetness.
Examples of dry wines include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.
A sweet wine is just what it sounds like. Unlike a dry wine, a sweet wine still has considerable amounts of natural sugar following fermentation.
Because less sugars have been converted to alcohol, sweet wines may have less overall alcohol than their dry counterparts.
Examples of sweet wines include Riesling, Muller Thurgau, and Dolcetto.