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Champagne Definitions and Wine Terms

What do Cold Duck, Sekt, or Doux have in common? This list of Champagne definitions and wine terms can help!

Champagne and Sparkling wine is what we like to drink to celebrate our special occasions. Champagne definitions can help you understand what Champagne is about and will make your selections easier.

Confused as to what Crémant is or Demi-sec? Do you want to know the difference between Champagne and Sparkling Wine? Some of the styles of Champagne and basic terms related to the process of making Champagne and sparkling wine are included in these Champagne definitions and wine terms.

This list of Champagne definitions and wine terms can help answer some of your questions.
Choose a letter to view.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M -
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

A

A.O.C. -- Abbreviation for Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, the government agency that controls wine production in France.

Appellation -- A geographical based term to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown.

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B

Barrel -- A hollow cylindrical container, traditionally made of wood staves, used for fermenting and aging wine. Sometimes called a cask.

Barrique -- The French name for a 225 litre Bordeaux style barrel.

Blanc de Blanc -- Is an elegant white sparkling wine or Champagne. It is made exclusively from white grapes (Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc).

Blanc de Noir -- A full-bodied Champagne or sparkling wine made from black grapes (Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier).

Body -- The sense of weight imparted by a wine to the mouth of a taster. A wine may be light- or full-bodied.

Brut -- A French term for a very dry champagne or sparkling wine. Drier than extra dry.

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C

Cava -- A white or pink sparkling wine produced in Spain mainly from the Penendes region in Catalonia. The word Cava comes from the Latin word which translates to the English word cave. Caves were used in the early days of cava production to store, preserve and age wine.

Champagne flute -- A piece of stemware having a long stem with a tall, narrow bowl on top.

Chaptalization -- A winemaking process where sugar is added to the must to increase the alcohol content in the fermented wine. This is often done when grapes have not ripened adequately.

Charmat -- The Charmat method uses large and pressurized stainless steel tanks for the sparkling wines' secondary fermentation. This process allows for the rapid stimulation of fresh yeast and sugar to ferment in the pressurized tanks.

Cold Duck -- A mixture of red and white sparkling wine that has a high sugar content.

Crémant -- French sparkling wine not made in Champagne region.

Cuvé -- A large vat used for fermentation.

Cuvée -- The pressing, or a blending of several wines.

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D

Dégorgement -- The disgorging or removal of sediment from bottles that results from secondary fermentation.

Demi-sec -- Moderately sweet to medium sweet sparkling wines.

DO -- The abbreviation for Denominación de Origen, or "place name." This is Spain's designation for wines whose name, origin of grapes, grape varieties and other important factors are regulated by law.

DOC -- The abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or "controlled place name." This is Italy's designation for wine whose name, origin of grapes, grape varieties and other important factors are regulated by law. It is also the abbreviation for Portugal's highest wine category, which has the same meaning in that country.

DOCG -- The abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, or controlled and guaranteed place name, which is the category for the highest-ranking wine in Italy.

Doux -- The French word for sweet. Usually refers to the sweetest category of sparkling wines.

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E

en Tirage -- French for "in pulling", refers to the period of time in which bottled sparkling wine is rested in contact with lees generated during secondary fermentation. Part of the Méthode Champenoise process.

Extra dry -- A champagne or sparkling wine with a small amount of residual sugar (slightly sweet). Not as dry as Brut.

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F

Fermentation -- The conversion of grape sugars to alcohol by yeast.

Finish -- A tasting term for the lingering aftertaste after a wine has been swallowed.

Flabby -- Tasting term used to indicate a wine lacking in structure, often marked by low acidity.

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G

Grape juice -- The free-run or pressed juice from grapes. Unfermented grape juice is known as "must."

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I

IGT -- Abbreviation for "Indicazione Geografica Tipica", the lowest-ranking of the three categories of Italian wine regulated by Italian law.

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M

Méthode Champenoise -- Process whereby sparkling wines receive a second fermentation in the same bottle that will be sold to a retail buyer. Compare with Charmat or bulk fermented.

Mousse -- The foamy head that forms at the top of the glass of champagne.

Must -- Grape juice before it's fermented, including pips, skins and stalks.

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R

Racking -- The process of drawing wine off the sediment, such as lees, after fermentation and moving it into another vessel.

Riddling -- Also known as "Rémuage" in French, this is a part of the Méthode Champenoise process whereby bottles of sparkling wine are successively turned and gradually tilted upside down so that sediment settles into the necks of the bottles in preparation for dégorgement.

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S

Sekt -- German sparkling wine.

Sparkling wine -- Effervescent wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide.

Spumante -- Italian for "sparkling". Generally any sparkling wine from Italy, although producers of Franciacorta (wine) have recently started stating that Franciacorta is not a "spumante".

Still wine -- Wine that is not sparkling wine.

Sur Lies -- Pronounced soar lees, is the contact of the wine with the yeast in barrels for a longer period of time. Generally, this can produce a richer and higher quality wine.

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T

Tannin -- Polyphenolic compounds that give wine a bitter, dry, or puckery feeling in the mouth.

Tart -- A tasting term describing a wine high in acidity. Often displayed by young, unripe wines.

Texture -- A tasting term for the mouthfeel of wine on the palate.

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U

Ullage -- Also known as headspace, the unfilled space in a wine bottle, barrel, or tank.

Unoaked -- Also known as unwooded, refers to wines that have been matured without contact with wood/oak such as in aging barrels.

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V

Varietal -- Wines made from a single grape variety.

Vintage -- The year in which a particular wine's grapes were harvested. When a vintage year is indicated on a label, it signifies that all the grapes used to make the wine in the bottle were harvested in that year.

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Y

Yeast -- A microscopic unicellular fungi responsible for the conversion of sugars in must to alcohol. This process is known as alcoholic fermentation.

Young -- Wine that is not matured and usually bottled and sold within a year of its vintage.

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Wine Terms and Definitions
Grape Glossary
Terms Used to Evaluate Wine
How to Open A Champagne Bottle

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Did You Know?

A Chateau is a vineyard in Bordeaux, which may or may not have a house on the property.

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