Glossary of Italian Wine Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | I | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | Z

– A –back to top

abboccato    off-dry; somewhat sweet (approx. 7–15 g/l residual sugar for still wines, 12–35 g/l for frizzante wines, and 32–50 g/l for sparkling wines)
acciaio (inossidabile)    (stainless) steel
acerbo    unripe; green
acidità    acidity
acido    acid, especially acetico (acetic), lattico (lactic), malico (malic), and tartarico (tartaric)
acidulo    acidic; having excessive (sour) acidity
acino    grape; berry (pl acini)
affinamento    finishing; refinement (of a wine after vinification and blending, before release)
agronomo    agronomist; an agricultural scientist
alcol, alcool    alcohol, especially alcol etilico (ethyl alcohol or ethanol)
amabile    semisweet; demisec (approx. 15–45 g/l residual sugar for still wines, 30–50 g/l for frizzante wines, and 40–100 g/l for fortified wines; not used for sparkling wines)
amaro    (adj) bitter; (n) a bitter liqueur
amarognolo    having a slightly bitter aftertaste
ambra    amber (color)
ambrato    “ambered”; turning brown
ampio ample; rich, complex, and balance
anice    anise; licorice flavor
anidride carbonica    carbon dioxide
anidride solforosa    sulfur dioxide
annata    vintage; year of harvest
antociani    anthocyanins
appassimento    the process of drying grapes
armonico    harmonious; balanced; proportionate
aromatico    aromatic; having a rich, usually floral, aroma
arricchimento    enrichment; increasing the sugar content of grape must
asciutto    bone dry (officially synonymous with secco: less than approx. 7 g/l residual sugar for still wines, 17–32 g/l for sparkling wines)
assaggio    (n) taste; sample (of wine)
assemblaggio    blending of wines
autoclave    autoclave; pressurized tank
autoctono    autochthonous; native to the place where it is growing; indigenous
azienda agricola    wine estate; a farm that grows grapes and produces its own wine
azienda vinicola    a winemaking firm that buys most or all of its grapes from growers

– B –back to top

bacca    grape; berry (a more general botanical term than acino)
barile    small wine barrel, typically made of wood and holding about 50 liters
bianco    white (pl bianchi)
bicchiere    wineglass; drinking glass
biodinamica    biodynamic (agriculture)
biologica    organic (agriculture)
bollicine    bubbles
botrizzato    botrytized; affected by botrytis (muffa nobile)
botte    wine barrel, normally made of wood and of any size but usually 200 liters or more (pl botti)
bottiglia    bottle (pl bottiglie)
buccia (d’uva)    grape skin

– C –back to top

caldo    hot (alcoholic)
cannella    cinnamon
cantina    cellar; winery
cantina sociale    winery cooperative
caratello    small wine barrel, typically made of wood and holding about 100 liters
caratteristico    characteristic; appropriate for the named grape variety, region, or wine style
cascina    farmhouse; rural wine estate
castagno    chestnut tree or wood (sometimes used for casks or tanks)
cavatappi    corkscrew
cerasuolo    cherry red; also, a wine of that color
chiaretto    claret; a color on the border between a deep rosato and a light red
chiusura    closure (of a wine bottle)
classico    classic, often used in reference to a historic wine region or a traditional style
colle    hill (pl colli)
collina    small hill (pl colline)
collo    neck (of a bottle)
colmatura    topping up (a barrel)
colore    color
confezionamento    packaging (closure and bottle)
consorzio    consortium, especially of wine producers in a specific region
consumatore    consumer
consumo    consumption
cooperativo    winery cooperative
coppa    cup; goblet; wide-mouthed wineglass
corpo    body
corposo    full-bodied
corto    short; having little persistence in the mouth
cuoio    leather

– D –back to top

degustazione    tasting, especially a formal tasting to evaluate wine
denominazione    denomination; appellation; place-name
densità    density (of a vineyard’s planting)
disciplinare    document that sets forth the rules and standards for wine production in a defined region
distributore    distributor
dolce    sweet (more than 45 g/l residual sugar for still and frizzante wines, more than 50 g/l for sparkling wines, more than 100 g/l for fortified wines)
dolcificazione    sweetening
dorato    golden
dosaggio    dosage; the liquid added to classic-method sparkling wine after disgorging for sweetening and topping up

– E –back to top

effervescenza    effervescence
elaborazione    elaboration; processing (of wine); winemaking
elegante    elegant
enologia    enology; winemaking
enologo    enologist; winemaker
enoteca    wine shop; wine bar
equilibrato    balanced
erbaceo    herbaceous; vegetal
estratto    extract; the components of a wine, apart from sugar, that would remain if all the liquid is evaporated
etanolo    ethanol
etichetta    label
etichettatura    labeling
ettaro    hectare (equivalent to 2.47 acres)
ettolitro    hectoliter (100 liters, equivalent to about 26.4 U.S. gallons or 11.1 cases)

– F –back to top

fattoria    farm; farmhouse; rural wine estate
fecce, feccia    sediment from the winemaking process; dregs; lees
fermentazione    fermentation
fillossera    phylloxera root louse
filtrato    filtered
filtrazione    filtration
fine    elegant and harmonious
fiori    flowers
floreale    floral; reminiscent of the aroma of flowers
forzatura    forcing; strengthening; causing unnaturally vigorous growth in a vineyard
fragrante    fragrant; perfumed; aromatic; fruity
fresco    fresh; crisply acidic
frizzante    effervescent; fizzy; exhibiting carbon dioxide bubbles in solution, but at a lower pressure than a fully sparkling (spumante) wine
frutta    fruit
fruttato    fruity

– G –back to top

giallo    yellow
giovane    young; lacking maturity
gradazione alcolica    alcoholic content; equivalent to “proof” in the U.S. (titolo alcolometrico is preferred)
granato    garnet (color)
grappa    spirit made by distilling grape pomace (skins and seeds)
grappolo (d’uva)    grape bunch (pl grappoli)
gusto    (n) taste; flavor

– I –back to top

imballaggio    packing (putting wine bottles in containers for shipping or storing)
imbottigliamento    the bottling process
imbottigliato    bottled
impianto    planting; implantation
importatore    importer
intenso    intense (in aroma, color, or flavor)
invecchiamento    the aging process
invecchiato    aged

– L –back to top

leggero    lightweight; low in alcohol
legno    wood
lieviti    yeast (pl)
limpidezza    clarity
liquoroso    fortified; with added alcohol
lotta biologica    the vineyard pest control strategy of using only biological (organic) means to combat pests, rejecting all chemicals except copper and sulfur
lotta guidata    literally, guided struggle or reasoned fight; the vineyard strategy of using chemicals only when damage from pests and disease is imminent, rather than proactively on a routine schedule
lotta integrata    integrated pest management; the vineyard strategy of using biological and chemical means in a coordinated plan to combat pests

– M –back to top

macerazione    maceration
macerazione carbonica    carbonic maceration
maderizzato    maderized; oxidized
malolattica    malolactic (fermentation)
marchio    trademark; brand (pl marchi)
mattonato    brick red
maturazione    maturation; aging
maturo    mature
metodo Charmat    the method of fermenting sparkling wine in pressurized tanks (autoclaves) and then transferring the wine into bottles under pressure; also called metodo Martinotti
metodo classico    the classic Champagne method of fermenting sparkling wine in the bottle in which it is sold
metodo Martinotti    another name for metodo Charmat, especially in Piemonte
metodo tradizionale    another name for metodo classico
millesimato    vintage dated, usually referring to sparkling wine
minerali    minerals
monovitigno    varietal; a wine made from a single grape variety
morbido    soft and balanced, with barely detectable sweetness and low to normal acidity
mosto    grape must; juice for winemaking
muffa nobile    noble rot; botrytis (Botrytis cinerea)

– N –back to top

nero    black
novello    (adj) new; (n) a light-bodied red wine made for release soon after harvest

– O –back to top

odore    odor; aroma; smell
ossidato    oxidized; having been adversely affected by contact with air
ossidazione    oxidation

– P –back to top

paglierino    pale yellow; straw colored
passito    wine made using partially dried grapes to increase the alcohol and/or sweetness level
pergola    traditional high training of vines overhead
persistente    having a prolonged finish
pesante    heavy; overly alcoholic
pieno    full; full-bodied; rich
pigiatura    crushing; pressing
podere    farm; rural wine estate
polifenoli    polyphenols
polpa    pulp; flesh
porpora    purple; crimson
potatura    pruning
presa di spuma    the process of creating the second fermentation for sparkling wines
prezzo    price
produttore    producer
profumo    perfume; aroma; nose
provenienza    provenance; place of origin

– Q –back to top

qualità    quality
quercia    oak

– R –back to top

raspo    stem (of a grape bunch); stalk
resa    yield (of grapes from a vineyard)
retrogusto    aftertaste
rifermentazione    refermentation
ripasso    literally, repassed; a wine whose alcoholic strength is increased and its complexity enhanced by combining it with the drained but still fermenting skins of a dried-grape wine to initiate a second fermentation
riserva    reserve; a wine of longer aging and usually higher quality than the norm for that style
robusto    robust; full-bodied
rosato    (adj) rosy; (n) a pink or rosé wine
rosso    red
rotondo    round; well-balanced with moderate acidity
rubino    ruby (color)

– S –back to top

sapido    sapid; flavorful; full-bodied
sapore    flavor
Satèn    a style of white sparkling wine made in Franciacorta
sboccatura    disgorgement
scelto    chosen; selected, referring to grape bunches or individual berries hand-harvested for quality
secco    dry (less than 4–9 g/l residual sugar, depending on acidity level, for still wines; 17–32 g/l for sparkling wines; less than 40 g/l for fortified wines)
sesti    spacing; distances; density (of vineyard plantings)
solfato    sulfate
spuma    foam; effervescence
spumante    sparkling (wine)
struttura    structure
sughero    cork (material)
suolo    soil
superiore    superior; a wine of a somewhat higher standard—most commonly slightly riper grapes—than the norm for that style

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Talento    a collective brand name for a style of sparkling wine made by the metodo classico; using only Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and/or Pinot Nero; with a minimum of 15 months’ aging on the lees; and made in a brut or drier style (less than 12 g/l residual sugar)
tannico    tannic; rich in tannins
tannino    tannin (pl tannini); astringent compounds primarily found in grape skins and wood
tappatura    the corking process
tappo    (n) cork; closure; (adj) corked (aroma); affected by 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA)
tappo a fungo    mushroom cork (for sparkling wine)
tappo a vite    screw cap
tenuta    estate
terreno    terrain; land; soil
tipologia    type; style (of wine) (pl tipologie)
titolo alcolometrico volumico effettivo    actual alcoholic strength
titolo alcolometrico volumico naturale    potential alcoholic strength before any enrichment
titolo alcolometrico volumico potenziale    potential alcoholic strength; the actual alcoholic strength that would be achieved if all sugars were fully fermented
tranquillo    still; not effervescent

– U –back to top

uva    grape
uvaggio    blend of grapes

– V –back to top

vaniglia    vanilla
varietà    variety
vecchio    old
vellutato    velvety; soft and smooth on the palate
vendemmia    harvest
vendemmia tardiva    late harvest
vigna    vineyard (pl vigne)
vignaiolo    grape grower; vine dresser
vigneto    vineyard, especially a large vineyard
vinaccia, vinacce    pomace; marc (pressed grape skins and seeds)
vinacciolo    grapeseed
vinificazione    vinification; winemaking
vino    wine (pl vini)
vin santo    literally, holy wine; a traditional wine style of Toscana characterized by an exceptionally long, slow fermentation of sweet juice from dried grapes in sealed barrels
vinoso    vinous; grapey; fresh and fruity like a young wine
viola, violetta    violet; purple (color)
vite    vine (pl viti)
viticoltore    viticulturist; grape grower
viticoltura    viticulture
vitigno    grape variety (pl vitigni)
vivace    lively; youthful, sometimes slightly effervescent

– Z –back to top

zucchero    sugar
zuccheri residui    residual sugars