French wine industry terminology, with most accents and other characters .. work in progress ..
– A –
acide acétique acetic acid
acide malique malic acid.
acide tartrique tartaric acid.
acidité vive lively, fresh acidity.
agrafe a u-shaped metal staple used to hold the cork in place during second fermentation of some prestige champagnes.
aiguille de pin pine needles.
alcooleux alcoholic, spirity eg plutôt alcooleux quite alcoholic.
allochtone allochthonous, as in wine varieties not traditionally grown in a region.
amer ou amére bitter.
anis étoillé star anise.
argilo-calcaire ou argileux-calcaire ou terre blanche clayey-limestone, has an important role in thermo-regulation (reflects heat keeping the soil cool), and water supply (acts as a water retentive reservoir up to a point, and then freely drains away any excess supply). The term equates to marl, which is a mixture of 30-60% clay and 60-30% limestone.
argilo-limoneux clayey-silt (alluvial).
arôme (nm) aroma.
arriére goût ou déboire aftertaste with a disagreeable dimension.
assemblage a blending of various vats of wine, or various varieties.
averse de grêle hail storm.
– B –
baguette pruning term related to the taille de la Marne method, in use in the Champagne region, where a previous year’s mature cane is left vertical with a small number of buds towards its furthest end from the soil – helps defend, by providing a remedy, against frost damage in the Vallee de la Marne.
baie de sureau elderberry.
barrique Bordeaux name for a 225 litre barrel.
basse cour farmyard, in relation to brettanomyces.
battonage lees stirring.
Beaujolais Nouveau wine of the current vintage that can be commercialised until 31 August of the following year.
Beaujolais Primeur wine of the current year that can be commercialised via the trade until some date in the Spring following that vintage.
beurrée buttery, buttered.
boisé translates as wooded or woody. This term is used in the production of VS Cognac and relates to the use of oak chips. There is more than one explanation and/or depth of explanation of what it means … (1) WSET, Distilling Knowledge …use of oak chips is traditional practice to give an oakiness to a spirit destined for VS style, faster than in barrel – this means added colour and softening of the edge of a young Cognac; (2) Nicholas Faith, Guide to Cognac and Other Brandies …boisé – use of oak chips soaked in old Cognac, it is traditional practice, to speed the ageing process and give a false impression of additional age, normally added to cognac within the first 2 years… …boisé can also compensate for any lack of character in cognacs left in cask for long periods… … few admit to using it; (3) Brandy Classics …rather than caramel, boisé is a more natural way of adding colour to a cognac, it is made by lengthy boiling of oak chips in cognac to produce a dark syrupy liquid. It adds colour to a cognac but can give a slightly bitter flavour. This disappears with time, and the result is a more intense flavour and richness, but only careful use will achieve this. (4) BNIC regulations make no formal reference to boisé, but …oak infusion for final adjustment… is permitted.
Boisé can also be used to describe the sensory characteristics of a wine fermented and/or aged in wood, eg notes of toast, coconut, spice and vanilla.
bouchon cork or stopper (or traffic jam when in France).
bouchon à vis ou capsule à vis (nm) screw cap.
bouchonné corked, from TCA contamination (a discussion in French…)
bouillie bordelaise Bordeaux mixture, a fungicide used against all mildews, consisting of copper sulphate and slaked lime.
boulbène an acid sandy-clay soil.
bourgeon ou yeux bud.
brut de cuve unfinished vat sample.
– C –
cade juniper, juniperus oxycedrus, a species of juniper common to the Mediterranean region, ranging in size from shrub to tree. The extract from twigs has an aroma of thick sweet wood bonfire smoke, used in some shampoo, probably with some antispetic properties..
cahier des charges specifications, official guidelines
caillotte hard compact chalk.
caillouteux stony, pebbly.
calcaire asteries limestone with fossil starfish inclusions.
caniculaire heat wave.
capiteux heady, intoxicating, high in alcohol.
capsule à vis ou bouchon à vis screw cap closure.
carton mouillé wet cardboard, in relation to cork taint.
cassis blackcurrant; cassis is often used to imply a concentrated rich aroma/flavour of blackcurrant, in this case crème de cassis should be used, instead.
caudalie the duration of the finish in seconds, after spitting/swallowing, commonly short at < 6 seconds, medium at >6<12 seconds and long >= 18 seconds.
caviste cellarman, wine merchant.
cep (de vigne) vine stock.
cépage grape variety.
chaîne d’embouteillage et d’étiquetage bottling and labelling line.
chalereux heat, as in alcoholic.
chaos a seemingly chaotic boulder field landscape, created by wind, water and frost weathering.
changement climatique (les effets du ..) climate change (the effects of ..).
chapeau crust, head of fermenting must.
charpenté structured, robust, full-bodied.
chef de culture vineyard manager.
chien mouillé wet dog, in elation to brettanomyces.
cire d’abeille beeswax.
citronelle lemon balm.
citron vert lime.
climat vineyard, or a terroir-specific site within a vineyard.
clos a walled vineyard.
clou de girofle clove.
coeur de cuvée in terms of champagne production, the cuvée is the first 2050 l of juice from the pressing of 4000 kg of grapes, the coeur or heart of the cuvée is the juice from the centre of that pressing, and is regarded as the best of the best quality juice.
coller (vt) to fine.
collerette neck band or label.
colloïde colloid, a very fine particle with a diameter of (2-500)µm, see for example.
coiffe metal cap atop a sparkling wine cork, to stabilise the muselet or wire cage which fits over the top.
compote (nf) stewed fruit.
confit candied, conserve.
corsé full-bodied, robust.
côte (côteaux) slope(s), hillside(s).
coup de patte (nm) a helping hand .. in the winery.
courson mature wood retained after winter pruning following the current vintage, either cane or spur.
crotte de souris mouse droppings, in relation to brettanomyces.
croupe slope, fig. rump.
cru a vineyard officially classified as being of some extraordinary quality.
cru artisan a classification for wines considered to be of a quality just below cru bourgeois. See 1, 2.
cru bourgeois prior to 2003 a 3-step cru bourgeois quality system existed – Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, but this was disputed at the 2003 reclassification, and acrimoniously abandoned in 2007.
Between 2007 and 2009 there was a grower initiative instituted by l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc, to introduce qualitative evaluation to determine award of (plain) Cru Bourgeois status for a particular wine for the vintage. This system was ratified by the authorities in 2009, with publication each September, starting 2010, of wines meeting the Cru Bourgeois requirements.
A replacement three level system, of Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, will be technically valid from the 2017 vintage, but not unveiled publicly until 2020. This means that, theoretically, 2017 will be the first vintage evaluated according to the new system. Let us hope that it does not end up in the courts again.
The new classification was announced in early 2020, but had been boycotted by the top wines of the 2003 edition eg Sociando Mallet and Ormes de Pez. This somewhat devalued the system as a whole, though there is hope that they will re-join in the future. The classification is to be repeated at 5 year intervals, so next up 2025.
curretage – a vigilant growing season pruning system attempting to deal with vine trunk disease.
cuvaison generally refers to red wine making, it is the period of contact between skin, pips and juice, spanning the period from pre-fermentation cold soaking maceration (~13-15C), through alcoholic fermentation, to post-fermentation warm maceration, ie all processes prior to pressing.
cuve vat of stainless steel, unless otherwise noted.
cuve de béton concrete vat.
cuve en acier inox, stainless steel vat.
cuve résine fibre glass vat.
cuvée a blend, or in terms of champagne production the first 2050 l of juice from pressing 4000 kg of grapes, it is regarded as the best quality juice.
cuverie vat/fermentation cellar.
cuvier inox thermo-régulé temperature controlled stainless steel vat.
cuvier en pierre concrete vat.
– D –
débourbage post pressing gravity settling of solid materials (les bourbes) in the juice, and then running the clear wine off; can be accelerated by chilling or adding pectinolytic enzymes to reduce juice viscosity.
décanter (v) to settle, in order to clarify, so by gravity.
dégustation de vins wine tasting.
délestage pumping over, or rack and return. In detail, the fermenting juice is racked off the bottom of the vat, leaving the grape skin cap at the bottom; the juice is then returned to the vat, after a period which could be a few hours, from the top, to re-hydrate the solids. The cap then rises slowly through the returned juice, which improves the maceration effect.
demi-muid a wooden barrel, a half hog’s head, of about 600 l capacity.
demi-sec medium dry.
diachylon band aid, in relation to brettanomyces.
dioxyde de carbone carbon dioxide, CO2.
dosage a sparkling wine term, in which the desired finished style of wine, in terms of sweetness, can be altered, between disgorgement and final bottling, by the addition of a solution of cane or beet sugar, the dosage. The dosage is mixed together with either the same wine as in the bottle, or a reserve wine, to give the desired overall style. Wine is added, because some liquid is lost in the disgorgement process.
dur hard, as in tannins, high in tannins and acidity.
– E –
échalas (vine training) stake.
échantillon sample, eg as in spirit miniature.
écouler (vt) to run off, eg liquid from solids.
éggrapage de-stemming, also see érafler
élevage the period between the end of the alcoholic fermentation and bottling, including MLF, clarification, filtering, blending and ageing in some vessel.
eleve en fut de chene matured in oak barrel, cask, or other oaken vessels.
empyreumatique this term characterises the family of burnt notes eg tobacco, roasted, caramel, toast, dark chocolate …
en foule see provignage.
en primeur BBR explain this quite well. There is resistance to the use of this system, most notably Chateau Latour, which withdrew after the 2011 vintage.
enherbé herbaceous growth between vine rows.
érafler to de-stem, also see éggrapage.
evaporation sous vide evaporation under pressure, a process by which water can be removed from juice or must.
– F –
fermage tenant farming.
fermentations alcooliques bloquées stuck fermentation.
fermentation malolactique malolactic fermentation.
fermentation naturelle spontaneous fermentation.
fève (de cacao) cocoa bean.
feuillette Chablis name for a 132 litre barrel.
filtration sur terre filtration using diatomaceous earth, aka kieselguhr filtration.
finale (nf) finish.
fleur de sureau elderflower.
foudre a large wooden vat (stands on its end, and is wider at its base than at the top) or barrel, typically of oak. They are much larger than a barrique, ranging from 1500-35000+ litres, and are typically used for slow and gentle ageing. They can achieve venerable age, when well maintained. If a foudre is new, the relatively low surface area to volume ratio ensures that the oak has a low-key impact, alternative woods include chestnut.
fouler (vt) to crush.
fraise (nf) strawberry.
framboise (nf) raspberry.
francs de pied (planting) ungrafted vines.
fruit de la passion (nm) passion fruit.
fruits a noyau stone fruit.
fruits du verger orchard fruit.
fruit vert underripe.
fût a generic name for a large wooden barrel or cask, typically fût de chêne.
– G –
garrigue (nf) scrub, herbs, typically sage, thyme, rosemary, lavender, savoury, pine …
gaz carbonique carbonic gas ie CO2.
gel (m) frost.
genévrier (nm) juniper.
gouleyant easy to drink, easy drinking.
gousse de vanille (nf) vanilla pod.
goût de lumière lightstruck, the degradation of a wine caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, with symptomatic aroma and flavour profiles including wet cardboard or wet wool; the effect can occur in wines bottled in both clear and green glass.
goyave (nf) guava.
grappe (nf) cluster, bunch ~de raisins bunch of grapes.
gras fat, as in a full viscous mouthfeel of eg a Sauternes.
gravelle (nf) gravel
graviers gravelly soil.
greffe (nf) graft.
greffer (vt) transplant, graft.
grêle (nf) hail.
grès (nm) sandstone
grés stony ground
griotte morello cherry (a sour cherry, very dark skinned).
groseille à maquereau (nf) gooseberry.
groseille rouge (nf) red currant.
– H –
– J –
jus (de citron) (lemon) juice.
– L –
liqueur d’expedition ou liqueur de dosage a solution of cane or beet sugar and either the same wine as in the bottle, or a reserve wine, added between disgorgement and final bottling, to give the desired style.
liqueur de tirage a sweet solution of cane or beet sugar (20-24 grams/litre, generating CO2 gas for a rise in pressure of up to 6 bars, 87 psi), wine, yeast, and blended still base wine, which is then bottled, commonly under crown cap, to create a secondary fermentation in bottle.
liège cork (the material, not the closure, see bouchon)
lieu-dit a name given to a terroir-specific area of vineyard.
limoneux alluvial or ‘silt’ deposits (rather than wind-blown deposits known as loess), for example, sablo-limoneux = a sandy-alluvial soil.
limpide limpid, clear.
liquoreux sweet, rich.
lutte raisonnée a vineyard management system where the grower only uses chemical treatments when essential, and selectively ie only where needed within a vineyard.
– M –
macération carbonique carbonic maceration.
maceration pelliculaire pre-pressing maceration of white grapes on the skins at low temperature, to extract flavour precursors, can be done under a CO2 blanket.
macération semi-carbonique semi-carbonic maceration.
machine à vendanger mechanical harvester.
maladie du blanc ou oidium powdery mildew.
maquis (nm) scrub, gnarled undergrowth.
marmelade stewed fruit.
marne marl, marlstone
mélange (nm) a blend (of vareties).
méridional(e) ou du sud southern.
méthode ancestrale see pétillant naturel.
(Le) Midi the south of France, that is south of 45N, below which the weather improves markedly. The area comprises, in terms of regions, the southern halves of Nouvelle Aquitaine and Auvergne-Rhône -Alpes, Occitanie, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and Corsica.
mildiou downy mildew.
millésime vinatage year.
moelle (de citron) (lemon) pith.
moëlleux from moelle or marrow, meaning full of marrow, soft, softness; so it is a textural term, as well as indicating medium-sweet in the context of wine.
moisi mouldy, musty.
moissure (nf) mold.
molasse shallow marine deposits of sandstone, shale and conglomerates.
mou soft (acidity), lacking acidity.
moût de raisin grape must, essentially alcoholic grape juice with solids.
mûre ou mûre sauvage blackberry.
mûrir (vt) to ripen.
muselet wire cage restraining a sparkling wine cork, also see coiffe.
mutage adding alcohol to arrest fermentation, eg vin muté.
– N –
noisettes grillées roasted hazelnut.
noix de muscade nutmeg.
non filtré unfiltered.
nouaison berry set.
– O –
odeur (nf) smell.
œuf pourri rotten egg.
oidium ou maladie du blanc powdery mildew.
ouillage topping up, to avoid oxidation during ageing in wood.
– P –
pain grillé toast (also see rôtie).
palais (nm) palate.
palissage trellis, trellissing.
pamplemousse (m) grapefruit.
par gravité gravity fed.
pétillant lightly sparkling.
pétillant naturel ou pét nat (aka méthode ancestrale) is a sparkling wine made by bottling still fermenting wine must, so retaining the CO2 gas produced. The wine may be released with sediment, or disgorged off the sediment. Bottle variation is intrinsic to the process.
piéce Burgundy name for a 228 litre barrel.
pied (de vigne) vine, lit. vine head, used in planting density ie pieds à l’hectare, also pied de celeri ou laitue – head of celery or lettuce.
pierre à briquet flint.
pierre à fusil gun flint, a romantic term for sulphur.
pigeage punching down.
pointu(e) sharper, thinner, (higher) acidity.
poivron rouge ou vert red or green pepper.
pomme blette rotten apple.
porte-greffe root stock.
pourriture aigre sour rot, when birds, insects or hail damage grape skins, allowing bacteria to enter and turn the juice to vinegar. Try sniffing plums that have wasp damage, with browning flesh around the points of entry.
pourriture noble noble rot, botrytis, botrytis cinerea.
presser (vt) to press.
prestige cuvée ou tête de cuvée the top quality level of a Champagne house’s range eg Dom Perignon (the first such cuvée), Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, Cristal ..
prix de sortie opening price.
provignage ou en foule an extremely dense planting system, literally in a crowd, with as many as 30k vines/ha. The process to achieve this is layering, a common method of plant propagation eg strawberries, in which in early winter, a cane from an exisiting vine is buried in a u-shape, with the free end above ground. In spring the buried part develops roots, forming a new vine, allowing continuous regeneration of a vineyard (as vines inevitably do die, or become damaged), albeit with a great complexity of roots.
– R –
raisin (nm) grape.
rancio an oxidised profile – melted butter, nutty, walnuts, candied and cooked over-ripe fruit, rich fruit cake.
rang (de vigne) row (of vines).
râpeux rough (tannins)
rebêche in champagne production, refers to any excess juice extracted after the permitted juice of 2550 l has been run off. It cannot be used in champagne production, and may be sent to distillation.
recolté (nf) harvest.
régisseur (nm) estate manager.
réglisse (nf ou nm) liquorice.
remontage pumping over, where the juice is pumped out from the bottom of the vat, and sprayed over the cap, to keep it submerged.
rendement (nm) yield.
romarin (nm) rosemary.
rôtie (nf) slice of toast (also see pain grillé).
– S –
sables sandy soil.
sablo-limoneux sandy-alluvial soil.
saignée when starting a black grape fermentation, some juice is run off (which goes to making rose), to increase the ratio skin:liquids, with the aim of developing a more concentrated red wine.
sans année non-vintage.
sans millésime non-vintage.
sarment vine shoot.
sarriette savoury, the herb, part of the garrigue herb ensemble.
saveur (nf) flavour.
sec tendre off dry.
selection de grains nobles botrytis (aka noble rot) infected grapes, which lose water and shrivel as a result. This concentrates sugars, acids, and aroma and flavour precursors, enabing the creation of a characterful sweet dessert style of wine.
selle de cheval horse saddle, in relation to brettanomyces.
senteur (nf) perfume.
silex a soil composed of clay, flint, limestone and silica (sand).
siliceuse siliceous (soil), a sedimentary soil composed largely of quartz and silica.
souple soft, a wine with a low acidity
sous vide concentration vacuum concentration, the removal of water or any desirable component, depending on filter pore size, including alcohol.
soutirage racking off the lees.
stockage (du vin) (wine) storage facility.
sueur de cheval horse sweat, in relation to brettanomyces.
sulfate de cuivre copper sulphate.
sur lattes (horizontal storage) on racks. Typically referred to when speaking of ageing on the lees, during the second fermentation of a sparkling wine.
sur lie ageing on the lees.
– T –
taille in champagne production, refers to the pressing following the cuvée (the first 2050 l of juice), the taille representing the next 500 l of juice. The juice is fruity with lower acidity and can be used in a blend, or in its own right – producing champagne with a relatively short lifespan. The sum of 2550 l of juice represents the maximum permitted extraction from 4000 kg of grapes. Any juice extraction after that is termed the rébeche.
taille à côts head or cordon trained, spur pruned, where with the exception of a small number of short spurs (côts) bearing 2 or 3 buds, all previous seasons’ growth is removed, with the aim of controlling yield. This system is used in Sauternes (alternatively single guyot), where it is known as taille en éventail.
taille courte severe pruning, synonym for taille à côts.
tailler (vt) prune.
tanins bien fondus smooth tannins.
tanins bien intégré well-integrated tannins.
terra vitis a production system mid-way between organic and traditional.
tête de cuvée ou prestige cuvée the top quality level of a Champagne house’s range eg Dom Perignon (the first such cuvée), Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, Cristal ..
texture poudreuse (f) powdery texture.
tilleul lime tree
tonneau a volume of 900 litres in Bordeaux, that is 4 barriques.
torréfaction roasting; in tasting it is an umbrella term for eg burnt caramel, charred wood, roasted coffee, wood smoke.
tout court a blend across lieux-dits from the same vineyard.
transvaser (v) to decant.
triage translates as sorting out, in effect the use of multiple picking passes, or tries, to select only the grapes which satisfy a particular ripeness requirement. Triage is also used in hospitals, in the sense that incoming patients are sorted, by the triage reception unit, and sent to their initial care discipline.
trie de nettoyage a pass usually made through the vineyard to remove bunches affected by grey, rather than noble, rot, or to remove those that are significantly underripe, in relative terms.
– V –
variété de raisin grape variety.
(tanins) veloutés velvety tannins
vendange en vert green harvest, thinning the (immature) crop.
vendange tardive late harvest, equating to super-ripe grapes with an extra long hang time, which allows the development of more complex aroma and flavour precursors. Resultant wine styles range of rich and dry, to sweet dessert.
vendangeur, -euse (nm,f) a grape picker.
veraison the onset of ripening.
vert green, a wine with excessive acidity.
vigne (nf) vine.
vigneron, -onne (nm,f) wine grower (though strictly, and logically, vine grower), there is no word for winemaker as the belief is that by proper tending the vines, the wine will make itself.
vignoble (nm) vineyard.
vin clair in champagne production, a still or base wine awaiting blending, with other vins clairs, prior to second fermentation.
vin corsé full-bodied wine.
vin de comptoir low quality mass produced wine.
vin de coupage blended wine.
vin raffiné fine (of refined quality) wine.
vin de cépage varietal wine
vin de France is wine without geographic indication, it replaced, on 01/08/2009, the classification vin de table.
vin de garde wine for laying down.
vin de paille wine made from dried grapes.
vin de soif easy drinking, thirst-quenching quaffable wine, fruity, lacking complexity, inexpensive eg Beaujolais Nouveau or a basic one-dimensional Chilean merlot.
vin gris an unofficial term, referring to a very pale rosé wine. It can be vinified from red grapes, in two ways – either vinified in the white wine manner ie crushing, minimal time on the skins, then pressing and fermentation, or as a byproduct of red wine production, in that a light pre-fermentation pressing is employed to again give a pale juice, which is then fermented separately. The latter concentrates the remaining must which then becomes more coloured, giving a deeper hued red wine.
vin léger light-bodied wine.
vin moyennement corsé medium-bodied wine.
vin usé a wine that is too old, in a decline, losing its sensory qualities.
vinification wine making.
vins d’assemblage blended wine.
violette violet (the flower).
viticulture durable sustainable viticulture.
– Y –
yeux ou bourgeon bud.
– Z –
zestes d’agrumes séchés dried citrus peel.
zeste (de citron) (lemon) zest.