Wine Characteristics


Aperitif Wine – Served before a meal as an appetizer.

Blanc de Blancs – White wine made from white grapes; usually sparkling wine.

Brut – Dry or lacking sweetness, used in reference to sparkling wines. This is the driest type of champagne normally sold.

Dessert Wine – A wine served with desserts or by itself after a meal.

Dry Wine – Lacking sweetness. Most table wines are dry to fairly dry–to complement the flavors of most foods prior to the dessert course.

Extra Dry – Term used on a label to indicate that a sparkling wine is slightly sweet (contradictory but true!). See also “brut” and “sec.”

Flavored Wine – “Pop” wines are often flavored with citrus or other fruit. Vermouth is flavored with herbs and spices.

Fortified – Wine in which fermentation was stopped and the alcohol content increased by the addition of grape brandy. This process is used for sherries, ports, and other wines whose alcohol content reaches 16 to 18 percent–sometimes even more in very sweet wines.

Late Harvest – A wine made from grapes picked after their juices are extra sweet and concentrated.

Proprietary – One carrying a name originated by a specific winery – essentially a brand name.

Sec – Meaning “dry”; however, when applied to champagne it has come to indicate a medium sweet one.

Still Wine – Any non-sparkling wine.

Table Wine – Red, white, or pink wines of 11 to 13 percent alcohol, suitable for serving with food.

Varietal – Term used to indicate that a wine is made predominantly of the grape variety named on the label.

Vintage Wine – Wine from a single year named on the label, rather than a blend from several years.

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