Buying Wine with Confidence
Part of the Wine For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Don't get frazzled when you're shopping for wine. Browsing and buying wine should be a fun, positive experience. Remember these helpful hints when you hit the wine shop:
No one in the world knows everything about wine.
Smart people aren't afraid to ask "dumb" questions.
The purpose of wine is to be enjoyed.
Expensive doesn't necessarily mean I'll enjoy it more.
I am my own best judge of wine quality.
Most wines are good wines.
Experimentation is fun.
Advice is free for the asking.
Every bottle of wine is a live performance.
I'll never know . . . until I try it!
In the United States, a term that defines the geographical boundaries of a specific wine zone or region. For example, Napa Valley is the name of the AVA within Napa County.
An acronym for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (the shortened form is Appellation Contrôlée, or AC). AOC is a classification relating to the quality of a wine produced in the European Union (EU).
An acronym for Appellation d’Origine de Qualité Supérieure. AOQS is a classification relating to the quality of a wine produced in the European Union (EU); in this case, refers to a wine of superior quality.
In the European Union, a registered place name listed on a wine label that indicates the origin of the wine. Sometimes called appellation of origin.
A wine descriptor that refers to how a wine smells.
A standard that wine experts use to judge wine quality; the relationship of four components (acidity, sweetness, tannin, and alcohol) to each other.
A wine descriptor that explains how heavy a wine feels in your mouth (often related to the alcohol content). Wines are often described as light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied.
A wine descriptor that refers to how a (typically well-aged) wine smells.
A standard that wine experts use to judge wine quality; refers to a characteristic of a wine that has multiple flavors and aromas (usually a better quality wine).
A wine descriptor that refers to a wine with refreshing (typically high) acidity.
A glass container that can hold the contents of an entire bottle of wine; often used to aerate the wine (let it breathe before consuming).
A standard that wine experts use to judge wine quality; indicates a wine that gives the impression of having many layers (rather than being "flat" tasting).
An acronym for Denominação de Origen. DO is Portugal’s highest quality ranking for their wines.
An acronym for Denominazione di Origine Controllata. DOC is a classification referring to a quality wine produced in Italy.
An acronym for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. DOCG is a classification relating to a small group of elite (high-quality) wines produced in Italy.
A wine descriptor that refers to a wine that is not sweet. Wines can be classified as dry, off-dry (or semi-sweet), or sweet.
The process (during winemaking) in which yeasts convert the sugars in a grape juice to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
A wine descriptor that refers to the impression a wine leaves in your mouth after you taste and swallow it (the aftertaste). A standard used to judge wine quality.
A wine descriptor that refers to how strong or weak a wine's flavors are.
A wine descriptor that refers to a wine that has aromas and flavors that suggest fruit.
An acronym for Indicazione di Geografica Tipica. IGT is a table wine classification for Italian wines that list a geographic location on the wine label.
A standard that wine experts use to judge wine quality; indicates a wine that you can taste on the full length of your tongue, rather than just the front of your tongue.
A wine descriptor that refers to a wine that has flavors of oak, usually due to storage in oak barrels.
A term that wine tasters use synonymously for mouth.
An acronym for Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiet. QbA is a classification referring to a quality wine from a special region in Germany.
An acronym for Qualitätswein mit Prädikat. QmP is a classification referring to a quality wine with special attributes produced in Germany.
An acronym for Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region. QWPSR is a classification referring to quality European wines that have official place names.
Refers to solids (tannin and other matter) that develop in some red wines over time.
A wine descriptor that refers to a wine with a smooth feel in the palate; usually refers to wines with low acidity.
An expert wine specialist who typically assembles a wine list and recommends wines that pair with specific foods.
A wine descriptor that refers to a firm, red wine that leaves a dry feel in the palate.
A substance in grape skins that contributes to how a red wine tastes.
A French word (pronounced ter wahr) that refers to the unique combination of topsoil, climate, altitude, and other natural factors that a particular vineyard or wine region has.
A standard that wine experts use to judge wine quality; refers to whether a particular wine is true to its type (for the specific grape variety).
A wine that is named after the principal (or sole) grape variety used to produce the wine.
The year in which the grapes for a specific wine were grown and harvested.
An acronym for Vinho Regional. VR indicates a table wine classification for Portuguese wines.