Wine Glossary

At J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, we are continually striving to make your wine experience as fun and engaging as possible. We believe that wine should be friendly and accessible, and, as part of this philosophy, we’ve put together a glossary of wine terminology to help demystify the wine experience. We hope that this glossary will explain some of the more technical wine lingo, as well as illuminate the winemaking (and wine tasting) process, and, in turn, help you enjoy our wines even more.

Acidity: The tart quality that gives wine a sense of body and structure. Acidity gives wine structure, which is essential in a balanced wine.

Aftertaste: See “Finish” below

Alcohol: Alcohol contributes to a wine’s body and texture. Lower alcohol can give the impression of a sweeter wine.

American Viticulture Area (AVA): A particular winegrowing region that has distinctive geographical features, such as Arroyo Seco, Paso Robles, or Napa. Applications are submitted to and approved by the TTB.

Appellation: See above (AVA).

Aroma: The scent of a wine. The term aroma is sometimes applied to younger wines, while the term bouquet is often reserved for more aged wines.

Balance: Balance occurs when there is harmony among all of the desirable elements in a wine: acidity, fruit and, where appropriate, tannins. A well-balanced wine has all of these elements in proper proportion.

Body: The overall texture or weight of wine in the mouth. Wine can be “light-bodied,” “medium-bodied” or “full-bodied.”

Bouquet: The complex aromas that develop with age in fine wines.

Brix/Degrees brix: A unit of measurement of the amount of sugar in wine grapes.

Buttery: A term for the rich, buttery flavor and smoothness of texture in some wines (usually oak-aged white wines) resulting from the presence of lactic acid.

Clone: Within a given varietal (ie. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc.) there are often many clonal options that can be grown. Different clones of an individual varietal can highlight unique flavors or aromas, or may be particularly suited to specific soils or climates.

Enology: The study and making of wine.

Fermentation: A stage of the winemaking process in which the sugar in grapes is converted into alcohol and CO2 by yeast.

Finish: The aftertaste, or final impression, that a wine leaves in the mouth. Usually, the longer the finish the better.

Fruit: A term used to describe the aroma and flavor of a wine. Wine rarely ever tastes like grapes. Rather, the taste of a particular wine can often be described in terms of other fruit, such as apple, black currant, cherry, citrus, pear, peach, raspberry, strawberry, etc.

Grip: The structure and firmness of flavor in a wine.

Late Harvest Wine: A wine made from grapes that have been left on the vine longer than usual in order to concentrate sugars.

Lees: A natural sediment resulting from fermentation; lees contact during aging can give wine additional depth and flavor.

Legs: The tracks of liquid that run down the sides of a glass after swirling or sipping.

Length: The time that the finish or aftertaste persists in the mouth; generally, the greater the length, the better the wine.

Maceration: The process of soaking grape skins with wine during fermentation in order to extract color, tannin and aroma.

Malolactic fermentation: A secondary fermentation that converts wine’s tart malic acid into lactic acid. The result is a softer, mellower wine with a slight buttery sensation.

Nose: A term for the overall smell of a wine, its aroma and bouquet.

Oak: The aroma and flavor that result from aging wine in oak casks or barrels. Time in new oak can give wine a heavily toasted, vanilla aroma and flavor, while older oak barrels impart a more delicate and subtle flavor. Oak softens, rounds out and builds the body of a wine.

pH: A measurement of the acidity in a wine; the lower a wine’s pH, the more acidic it is.

Racking (draining and pressing): The process of moving wine from one container to another after fermentation, leaving the sediments (such as lees) behind in the original container.

Residual sugar: Unfermented, natural grape sugar that remains in wine after fermentation is stopped by refrigeration.

Sur lie: A French term meaning “on the lees,” this term refers to the winemaking practice of leaving wine – usually white wine – in contact with the lees after fermentation, which adds flavor, body and complexity.

Tannin: A naturally occurring component found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes. Tannins (which are most prominent in red wines) impart an astringency when the wine is young, but resolve into delicious and complex elements when the wine is cellared under appropriate temperature conditions (55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit).

Terroir: The French term for “soil,” terroir refers to the physical and geographical characteristics of a particular vineyard site that influence the aromas and flavors of the resulting wine.

Vintage: The year in which the grapes for a wine were harvested <refer to our vintage chart for more information>

Viticulture: The study and science of grape growing.

Yeast: The microorganism responsible for fermentation by converting the grapes’ sugar into alcohol. Yeasts can be cultured or indigenous (wild). J. Lohr commonly uses a dozen different yeast strains in fermentation.