A red wine producing town in the southern Rhone Valley in France.
One of the most important wine producing regions of Switzerland. The red Dole and the white Fendant wines are both from this region.
A group of red and white Italian wines made in the region north of Verona.
A wine producing district in central Spain, known for its light reds.
A wine region in the Loire valley of France. Known for its simple wines.
Valle d'Aosta (vah'-leh dah-aw'ss-tah)
The smallest wine producing region in Italy. Skiers know the area for the famed Courmayeur ski resort, which is just on the other side of Mount Blanc from France's famed ski town Chamonix. The crisp, dry white wines of the region are enjoyed by skiers, but rarely seen elsewhere.
One of the Grand Cru vineyards of Chablis, in the Burgundy region of France. The wine is made from the Chardonnay grape, and is often cleaner and more crisp than other Chardonnay or even other white Burgundy.
One of the best known red wines of Italy. The name which means "valley of many cellars" is a testament to the region, north of Verona where it is made. When the vintage permits, a portion of the grapes are brought from the vineyard to be dried on straw mats. The sweet version of the wine, which is hard to find in the US is called Recioto della Valpolicella and the better known dry version is Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone, or simply Amarone.
Any wine that takes its name from the predominant grape variety. This is very common in the US and the rest of the New World, but in Europe wines are usually labeled with the place name. In the US there must be 75% of the named grape. Elsewhere the percentage is usually around 85%, but is never lower than 75%.
Another name for a tank. A container for fermenting, storing and blending wine. Wood was a traditional material for centuries, but that was replaced by cement vats which in turn have largely been replaced by stainless steel, with modern temperature controls. Some wine, such as Pinot Noir, can still benefit from the proper use of classic wooden, open topped vats.
A French Departement (equivalent to a state) that encompasses the southern Rhone Valley.
The other major wine producing region of Switzerland (after the Valais). The white wine Aigle is one of the best known from the area.
One of the Grand Cru vineyards of Chablis, in the Burgundy region of France. The wine is made from the Chardonnay grape, and this vineyard is often considered the finest among the Grand Crus of Chablis.
Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure (van deh-lee-mee-tay' duh cah-lee-tay' soo-pehr-yur'), the now no longer used (as of 2011) French designation for wines of superior quality, that do not quite make it to the top echelon status of Appellation Controlee. As with AC wines, those labeled VDQS had to adhere to regional rules of production.
Vega Sicilia (vay'-gah see-see'-l'yah)
A Spanish wine that is very famous, among a select few. Vega Sicilia Unico which is often aged for decades before bottling, sells for prices that rival the finest Bordeaux or Burgundies.
The French term for harvest or vintage. As with the Italian term "vendemmia" and the Spanish "vendima" vendage refers to the actual harvest, rather than the year (which is how vintage is commonly used in English). The French term for the year that appears on the label is "millesime."
Vendage Tardive (vahn-danj tahr-deev)
French for "late harvested." The term is used in the Alsace region where a tiny amount (sometimes less than 1%) of the grapes are picked late. While this practice results in a sweeter style wine elsewhere, the Alsatians ferment the wine until it is dry, producing instead a very rich, and intensely flavored wine.
The Spanish term for harvest or vintage. It refers to the actual harvest, rather than the year (which is how vintage is commonly used in English).
A large Italian wine region that includes the cities of Venice and Verona. Nearly a fifth of all the DOC wines of Italy come from this region. Soave and Valpolicella are two of the best known wines that are produced here.
A viticultural term originally from the French. Young grapes are tiny, hard and green. As they swell and ripen they take on the color they will be when they are harvested. Veraison is the point where the grapes just start to turn color.
Originally a white wine grape used to make a medium dry style of Madeira. Now the term is common, even if the grape is not often used.
An Italian white wine made from the grape of the same. There are several versions made, but the best known in the US comes in a curved bottle, reminiscent of the clay amphora that stored wine in ancient times.
An Italian white wine and grape. Many of the best examples are somewhat sweet.
Some may be surprised to find out that this classic addition to a martini started out as wine. In a technical sense a vermouth is any wine that has been infused with herbs or fruits. The Vermouth that is well known today comes in either a white (dry) or red (sweet) version. The name "Vermouth" comes from the German word "wermut" which means "wormwood" a common ingredient in Vermouth. Wormwood is incredibly bitter and has been used for medicinal purposes since the dawn of time.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano (vair-nah'-t'chah dee san-d'jee-mee-n'yah'-no)
A well known Italian dry white wine and grape. San Gimignano itself is a quaint tourist town, not far from Florence. It is famous for its towers, and visitors often come home with a taste for the local wine.
French for "green." A wine that is green will have the smell of vegetation and be highly acidic.
Vielle Vigne (v'yay veen-yuh)
The French term for "old vines." The concept is important because older vines yield more intense juice.
The French word for old. Sometimes found in the name of the producer or vineyard. The feminine form of the word is "vielle."
The French word for "vine." Related words are "cep de vigne" which refers to the actual grape vine and cepage which means grape variety.
The French term for someone that works in a vineyard. It is also sometimes used in a more general sense for anyone who works anywhere in a winery. See also Viticulteur.
The French term for a wine producing region. Can also be used for a single vineyard or estate.
Vila Nova de Gaia (vee-lah no-vah deh gah'-yah)
The town in Portugal where all the Port "lodges" (warehouses) are located. It is across the Douro river from the city of Oporto, because of the danger of fire.
French for "wine."
Vin Blanc (van blahn)
French for "white wine."
Vin Bourro (van boo-rew)
The French term for a wine that has just been pressed. It is not uncommon for vineyard workers and others to consume this incredibly young wine. It is often still sweet, and full of carbon dioxide, since the wine is not altogether finished being made.
Vin Doux Naturel (van doo nah-too-rel')
Literally this means "naturally sweet wine" in French. To be confusing it refers to wines that are not naturally sweet at all, but have had neutral grape spirits added to them to stop the fermentation process while there was still some unfermented sugars left. The process is called "fortification." Quite a few Muscat based wines are made this way in France, as well as the rare and incredible "Banyuls." Often abbreviated to VDN.
Vin de France (van du frans)
Since 2010 the term for the lowest category of French wine. Most of these wines simply have the name of the producer on them, and may contain any wine from anywhere. Replaces Vin de Table.
Vin Gris (van gree)
French for "grey wine." It refers to wines that are made from red wine grapes (which are called black grapes) but are almost without color. A Rosé is a pink wine, made the same way, but with more color.
Vin Jaune (van jawn)
This French "yellow wine" is made in the Jura district. By all accounts it most resembles a light Sherry.
Vin de Paille (van duh pah'y)
A wine made primarily in the Jura region of France by first drying the grapes on straw mats. This is the French term, but the Italian Vin Santo is one of the best known examples of wines made in this style (which in Italian is called Passito). This process increases the ratio of sugar to water in the grape. The result is a wine with more alcohol, and / or that is somewhat sweet.
Vin de Pays (van duh peh-yee')
The second category of French wines after AOC and the now no longer used VDQS. This category was created in 1973, almost 50 years after the others. It includes the simple wines found throughout the country. As with the other categories these wines must conform to local standards for grape variety and yield. The term is being phased out in favor of IGP which means Indication Geographique Protegee.
Vin Santo (veen sahn'-toe)
An Italian white wine from the Tuscany region. Made from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes that have been dried before making the wine (Passito is the term). The very sweet grapes are then fermented in small barrels that have some air in them, allowing the wine to maderize (oxidize). The result is a slightly brown wine that is either sweet, or very dry and alcoholic.
Vin de Table (van duh tabl)
The original name for the lowest category of French wine. Most of these wines simply have the name of the producer on them, and may contain any wine from anywhere. Now called Vin de France since 2010.
A group of grape vines. The boundaries of a vineyard may be determined by ownership or by geological / geographical considerations.
Vinho Verde (veen'-yoh vair'-day)
This Portuguese "green wine" may be red or white, and is often slightly sparkling. Green in this case refers to the youth of the wine, rather than its color. The wine is produced far up the Douro river, almost to the border of Spain.
This term is used for the entire scope of wine. For the business and science of growing grapes, making the wine, and then selling it.
There are over 40 species of grape, each belonging to the genus "vitis." Vinifera is the species responsible for almost all wine. The original Vinifera is often thought to be the Muscat grape, but the use of these grapes goes back long before written history. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and indeed almost any grape variety you can name, are all Vitis Vinifera.
The process of turning grape juice into wine.
Italian for "wine."
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (veen-no noh'-bee-leh dee mon-teh-pool-t'cha'-no)
An Italian red wine from the Tuscany region. Made from the Sangiovese grape in and around the town of Montepulciano. The region neighbors the southern Chianti area, and many examples are similar in style to Chianti.
Vino da Tavola (vee-no dah tah'-voh-lah)
The Italian term for "table wine." As with other European countries, this is the lowest designation for wines. Since some of Italy's greatest wines are made in a style or grape variety inconsistent with their regions, this lowly designation has appeared on the label of some of the most popular and expensive wines.
A wine tasting term used for wines that have no real flaws, but the best thing you can say about them is that they taste like wine.
This term refers both to the actual grape harvest as well as the year of the harvest. The term is also applied to wines that bear this year of harvest on their labels. Wines that are a blend of years are considered non-vintage wines (or N.V.). Until modern winemaking allowed fine wine to age consistently, dates were not associated with wines, and the "freshest" wine was the wine that was most in demand.
The most expensive, and longest live style of Port. These wines are only made in years of exceptional quality, usually only a few times a decade. They are bottled when they are young, but are intended to age for 20 years or more before they are consumed. As they age Vintage Ports will throw sediment and will need to be decanted before serving.
This is the best wine to buy to celebrate the life of a child, as the wine will age in much the same way as a person. First the parent, and then the offspring can celebrate 12 milestones in their life with a case of Vintage Port. In its youth the Vintage Port is but a hint of what it will be. As it reaches it teens, it starts to develop character, but remains fiery. By the time it is 21 years old, it is fully mature, but without the character further age will bring. By the time it is 40 years old, it has mellowed from a hot plum like flavor, to a soft nutty taste, full of complexity. As the port continues to age, it starts to loose some of its strength and intensity, but gains complexity and character. 60 to 80 years is often the upper limit of a Vintage Port, and few have the opportunity to taste them this mature, but few forget the experience. Only the greatest Port Vintages make it to the 100 year mark, while lesser years have faded long before this. While I eschew anthropomorphism in wine jargon, for Vintage Port it seems appropriate to make this connection to a human life span.
An exceptional white wine grape that is primarily found in the Northern Rhone region of France. The wines of Condrieu are made from Viognier, and the red wines of Cote-Rotie sometimes use a little of this white grape to improve their aroma. At one time the grape was much more widespread in France, but with the wine laws that were enacted in the early 20th century, the grape was overlooked in most regions. It produces wines that are highly scented with good acidity. This combination makes it ideal for late harvest style wines. Such was the custom in the 19th century, but again the French wine laws overlooked this use and late harvest Viognier became rare. California has recently become a new bastion of Viognier and producers there are even making late harvest wines (I would like to think that the resurgence of late harvest Viognier was due in part to my campaigning efforts).
The French term for a vineyard manager or owner. The person that is in charge of the vines. Sometimes also used for the wine maker. See also Vigneron.
The science of grape growing. See also Viniculture.
That genus of plants to which all grapes belong.
A wine producing village in the Burgundy region of France. Situated in the southern portion of the Cote d'Or, known as the Cote de Beaune. Most of its neighbors produce white wine, while Volnay is justifiably famous for its red wines made from Pinot Noir.
One of the finest wine producing villages in the northern Cote d'Or region of Burgundy, France. This village, situated in the southern end of the Cote de Nuits is home to five of the most famous Grand Cru vineyards: Romanee-Conti, La tache, Richebourg, La Romanee, and Romanee-Saint-Vivant.
A primarily red wine town in the Cote de Nuits region of Burgundy, France. It has one large Grand Cru vineyard, Clos de Vougeot, which is notable as an example of how confusing Burgundy can be for the consumer. There may be as many as 60 different producers of Clos de Vougeot alone. A small quantity of white wine is also produced in the village.
The region and wine from the Loire Valley in France. Planted almost exclusively to Chenin Blanc, these white wines can range from crisp and dry to luscious and sweet. Sparkling wine from the region has increased in production and popularity of late.
Literally: Vins de Qualite Produits des Regions Determinees, it is a European Common Market designation for "quality wines produced in specific regions." In theory almost any quality wine from Europe can use this designation, but in practice they use their local terms instead.