wine glossary

an explanation of some wine terms

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German wine glossary


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Cabernet Sauvignon for a full list of grapes click HERE

(red grape) small amounts of this grape are now grown in Germany but are mainly used in blends.

Cabernet Cubin for a full list of grapes click HERE

(red grape) synonym name WE 70-281-35. Developed and subsequently released in November 1999, this Vitis.vinifera cross is reported as derived from Cabernet Sauvignon x Lemberger parentage by the Weinsberg/Württemberg Research Station, Baden , Germany . Red wine is rich in fruit aromas and requiring oak cask aging/vinification.

Cabernet Dorio for a full list of grapes click HERE

(red grape) synonym name WE 71-817-89, developed and subsequently released in November, 1999 by the Weinsberg/Württemberg Research Station, Baden , Germany . Derived from a Cabernet Sauvignon x Dornfelder cross. Red wine with fruitiness with velvety, distinctive taste.

Cabernet Dorsa for a full list of grapes click HERE

(red grape) Vitis.vinifera variety, having synonym name WE 71-817-92 reported as developed and subsequently released in November, 1999 by the Weinsberg/Württemberg Research Station, Baden, Germany as another Dornfelder x Cabernet Sauvignon cross.

Cabernet Mitos for a full list of grapes click HERE

(red grape) synonym name WE 70-77-4F. Reported as derived from a Cabernet Sauvignon x Lemberger cross by the Weinsberg/Württemberg Research Station, Baden , Germany , this Vitis.vinifera variety was released in November, 1999.

Cabinet See Kabinett


Layer of living tissue under the bark and phloem tissue of a grape vine or other plant. New wood cells (xylem) form at the inside of cambium as it grows; new phloem and bark cells form at the outside edge. The net effect is to increase the diameter of the vine trunk a little every year.


The mature (tan or brown, but not green) shoot of a vine.

Cap stem

The small length of stem which connects each individual grape berry to its bunch.


A tiny green cover which loosens, then falls off exposing the pinhead-size ovary and releasing the pollinating anthers of an individual grape flower. When the cap falls off and anthers extend, the flower is said to be in bloom.


The floating solids (skins and bits of stem) in a tank of fermenting red wine. It binds together forming a thick mat which must be wetted at least daily during fermentation in order to extract the colour and flavour.


The quantity, as opposed to quality, of grapevine growth and total crop produced and ripened. See also vigor, which is used in contrast with capacity to express the state of health of the vine.


Class of compounds used for energy by vines. Sugar is the soluble (mobile) form and starch is the insoluble (storage) form.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

A gas that occurs naturally in air. It gives carbonated drinks their bubbles and, as dry ice (frozen CO2), it is used to keep things very cold. Vine leaves produce sugar from CO2, sunlight and water. This sugar is the ultimate source of energy used by the vine for growth and grape production.

Carbonic Maceration

A process where wine grapes are not crushed but fermented whole. The process is used to make wines which are particularly light and fruity, drinkable very early, but which do not improve with bottle aging. This is the process commonly used to produce "nouveau" wines of the Beaujolais region of France.


Any wooden container used for wine aging or storage. The term includes barrels, puncheons, butts, pipes, etc.


A cloudiness or precipitate which sometimes appears in certain wines because of some natural imbalance. Copper casse and iron casse are two that have plagued the wine industry off and on for decades. Both were identified as coming from traces of copper and/or iron picked up by the wine from brass fittings or steel pumps and tanks during processing. Both problems have been almost completely cured by the use of stainless steel tanks and equipment.

Cepages noble

French term for the group of "greatest grape varieties" used in winemaking.


The act of adding sugar to grape juice or must early in the fermentation to correct for natural deficiencies. These happen in poor vintages when grape ripening has been slow or incomplete. Illegal in California, chaptalization is permitted elsewhere by U.S. law and by other nations of the world. Winemakers who are forced by adverse climate to chaptalize NEVER volunteer the fact as it carries with it a "substandard quality" stigma. Ask a French winemaker whether his winery uses chaptalization and the answer is invariably a loud "only the minimum."


A wine tasting term referring to the style of taste.

Chardonnay for a full list of grapes click HERE

this grape variety has been allowed since the early 1990's. There are about 600 ha of this variety planted mostly in Baden , but Pinot Blanc has proved more popular.

Charmat Process

A process for producing sparkling wine or champagne cheaply and in large quantities by conducting the secondary fermentation in large tanks rather than individual bottles. Eugene Charmat, a Frenchman, developed the process in 1910. It is widely used all over the world.

Charta - Organization of Rheingau estates whose members make drier (Halbtrocken) styles, observing higher standards than the legal minimum.


Oval, chlorophyll-bearing structures inside the cells of leaves which act as tiny factories to produce sugar for plant growth from CO2 (in the air) and water. The energy used for this conversion is sunlight, captured by the chlorophyll.

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see Carbon dioxide.


Removing suspended solids, or their precursors, from wines by fining, racking and/or filtration.


In wine evaluation, a subjective term for the absence of cloudiness or sediment in a wine.

Clevener for a full list of grapes click HERE

(white grape) see Gewürztraminer

Climatic Regions

A system for identifying the suitability of an area for grape growing and winemaking by the amount of heat received from the sun during the growing season. The heat units are summed up as average "degree-days," then used in comparison with degree day summations from the known wine regions of the world. Five major regions are used:

Region I receives up to 2,500 degree days of heat each year.
Region II receives from 2,501 to 3,000 degree days per year.
Region III receives from 3,001 to 3,500 degree days per year.
Region IV receives from 3,501 to 4,000 degree days per year.
Region V receives above 4,000 degree days of heat per year Most of the world's best table wines come from regions I, II and III. However, any given variety usually is found to prefer only one narrow range of heat summation for optimum wine quality. For example, the best sparkling wines are grown in the coolest of climates (region I), Cabernet Sauvignon produces its best wines when the grapes are grown in Region II vineyards but high alcohol dessert wines are best in the warmer climates of Regions III and IV. Table grapes are often best in Regions IV and V. Each local vineyard or wine organization can tell you their area's average heat summation.


A vineyard or group of vines, all descended from the same individual vine. One vine, found to have especially desirable characteristics, may be propagated by grafting or budding to produce a whole vineyard which is identical to the original vine.

Closed-top tanks

Fermentation tanks with permanent tops. These always have doors or vents in the top to facilitate cleaning and for monitoring fermentations.


Haze or cloudiness in a wine which keeps it from appearing crystal clear. In extreme cases, a cloud may continue to coallesce and form a precipitate.


A tasting term meaning the wine is difficult to enjoy because of excessive sweetness or other feeling which "stays in your mouth too long" after the wine is gone.


A "bunch" of grapes.


A wine tasting term referring to an unfinished, rough or crude wine which is difficult to enjoy.

Cold Climate

No widely accepted criteria exist. However, viticulturists attending cold climate seminars seem to fall into one of two categories; either their region has:
1) A summertime climate which averages less than 2,000 degree days of heat summation, or
2) A wintertime climate which is cold enough to cause serious freeze injury to grapevines in most years. Either of these situations is truly cold by any standard, and marginal for viticulture. See Cool Climate.

Cold stable

A wine which can be kept in a refrigerator without forming a sediment or crystals is said to be cold stable.

Compound bud

The normal type of bud which appears at each node along a vine shoot or cane. It contains not one but three separate, partially developed shoots with rudimentary leaves in greatly condensed form. Usually, only the middle one grows when the bud pushes out in the spring. The others break dormancy only if the primary shoot is damaged or some other abnormality occurs.

Cool Climate

A viticultural climate in which the heat summation averages less than 2,500 degree days per year. This defines Region I, the coolest of the existing wine regions. See Cold Climate.


One who makes barrels, casks or wooden tanks. Also the act of repairing barrels, casks or wooden tanks.


Common term in general use to describe any container used for aging and storing wine. Cooperage includes barrels and tanks of all sizes.


Cylinder-shaped piece cut from the thick bark of a cork-oak tree and used as a stopper in wine bottles. Cork is especially well suited for this purpose because of its waxy composition and springiness.cork


A fee charged by restaurants for opening and serving a bottle of wine that the customer brings into the restaurant.


Tasting term meaning that the wine in question has an off-smell or off-taste that is recognized as having come from a defective (moldy) cork in the bottle. Moldy corks look exactly the same as good corks, both at the time of bottling and when the bottle is opened several months or years later. Their defect is discovered only when the wine is smelled or tasted. This is the reason (the ONLY reason) that the wine steward pours a small sample for tasting by the diner to approve prior to pouring the wine for the other guests around the table. If the taster finds the wine to be "corked," the steward should also smell the glass of wine to confirm the corky defect -- then bring the diner a replacement bottle. Spoiled bottles of wine due to moldy corks are not uncommon, often about 1 percent of a given winery's bottling. The off taste is hard to describe, but easy to recognize once the taster knows what it is. I describe it as "sour-moldy." Some tasters are not sensitive to the off flavour and might not even notice it. Others risk throwing up by continuing to taste.


A "corky" or "corked" wine has an unpleasant odor and flavour of moldy cork. There is no known way to recover a so-called "corked" wine. Throw it away and open another, especially if you're at a restaurant where they recognize the off flavour and will replace it free. See Corked.


A vineyard situation in which new flower clusters fail to set a full crop. It is usually caused by adverse weather at the time of bloom. See Shatter.

Cream of Tartar

A natural component of grape juice and wine. The chemical name is potassium bi-tartrate. Removed from wine as a by-product, cream of tartar is used in cooking and as a component of baking powder.


Tasting term to describe good acidity and pleasant taste without excessive sweetness.

Crush tank

Wine tank which receives the newly crushed must -- pumped directly from the crusher.


The process of crushing and destemming wine grapes just prior to fermentation. "The crush" refers to the autumn season when grapes ripen and are fermented.


The sediment, often crystalline, which forms inside wine bottles during long bottle aging. It is often brittle and can break into pieces as the wine is being poured.


The controversial process of artificially freezing grapes in order to produce sweet ice wines is not used in and not necessary in Germany or Austria.


A current "in" word to mean cultivated variety. But, since it can be misleading and is superfluous, recent texts on viticulture do not use the term. Nevertheless, you still hear it spoken with an impressive voice and downcast, knowing eyes in the highest circles.

Cultured Yeast

A pure culture, containing no yeast other than known strains which have been selected for their abilities to conduct wine fermentations promptly, reliably and to completion, without producing off flavours in the wine. Most wild strains fail at least one of these criteria. See Yeast, Wild Yeast.


A piece of grape vine, usually 10 to 20 inches long, cut from a dormant vine in wintertime for use in propagating new vines in spring. Cuttings are always taken from last year's growth and are a convenient way to store and handle the vine buds. It is the buds on the cutting which have the ability to begin new vine growth next year.

Wine villages beginning withwine glosssary

Cochem click the village name for a list of its einzellagen (individual vineyards)

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