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Wine words

Know your vino

abbinare: to pair a wine or other ingredient with a dish; abbinato or abbinata is 'paired'

abbocato: very slightly sweet

acciaio (inossidabile): (stainless) steel

alcool, alcolico: alcohol, alcoholic

amabile: moderately sweet

ambra: amber

anidride carbonica: carbon dioxide

anidride solforosa: sulfur dioxide

annata: vintage

asciutto: very dry

azienda agricola: wine estate that grows grapes and produces its own wine

azienda vinicola: a wine company that buys most of its grapes from growers

barile: small wine barrel

bianco: white

bicchiere: glass

biodinamica: biodynamic

biologica: organic

bollicine: bubbly, ie champagne, prosecco, etc.

bottiglia: bottle

brindisi: a toast!

brut: dry (for sparkling wines)

calice: chalice, but often used for wine sold by the glass

cantina (sociale): cellar or winery (cooperative)

cavatappi: corkscrew

cerasuolo: cherry red

chiaretto: claret; a color on the border between a deep rosato and a light red

classico: classic, usually referring to a historic wine region or a traditional style of wine making

colle: hill, colline little hills

consorzio consortium, especially of wine producers in a specific region

corpo: body

degustazione: tasting

denominazione: denomination or appellation (the place name)

dolce: sweet

dorato: golden

enologo: winemaker

enoteca: wine shop

fiaschetteria: wine shop

fine: elegant and harmonious

fresco: fresh, crisp

frizzante: effervescent

fruttato: fruity

gentile: moderately bubbly. It means 'kind' in Italian, so it won't send massive of bubbles up your nose.

giallo: yellow

giovane: young

granato: garnet

imbottigliato: bottled

intenso: intense aroma or flavour

invecchiamento: the aging process

legno: wood

limpidezza: clarity

liquoroso: fortified

macerazione: maceration

millesimato: vintage dated

minerali: minerals

moscato: bubbly

muffa nobile: noble rot (botrytis)

novello: new; light red wine released soon after harvest

paglierino straw colored

passito: wine made using partially dried grapes

pieno: full-bodied

podere: farm; rural wine estate

provenienza: place of origin

quercia: oak

Riserva: a wine of longer aging and usually higher quality than typical for the wine

robusto: full-bodied

rosato: rosé

rosso: red

rubino: ruby

secco: dry, as in wine, or dried mushrooms—funghi secchi

solfato: sulfate

spumante: very bubbly. Although Asti Spumante prefers to be known as just plain Asti these days, spumante is still used for any Italian sparkling wine. Others are Prosecco; Piedmont's sparkling wines (outside of Asti) are usually called moscato, while Emilia-Romagna is home to the fizzy red Lambrusco.

Superiore: Wines that have aged a certain amount of time (each DOC classification has its own rules) and naturally have more alcohol in them.

tannino: tannin (pl tannini)

tappo: cork; tappo a fungo mushroom cork (for sparkling wine); tappo a vite screw cap

tenuta estate

terreno: terrain or soil

tranquillo: still (not bubbly)

uva: grape

vecchio: old

vendemmia (tardiva): harvest (late)

vigneto: vineyard

vinificazione: wine making

vinaio: wine seller. In the old days, people would bring empty bottles to their vinaio, often a local lordling who would dispense both wine and olive oil from ground floor arched windows in his palazzo. You can still see traces of them here and there, although most have been bricked up.

vino della casa: house wine

vino fermo: wine without any fizz at all

vino da meditazione: term coined by Italian writer and connoisseur Luigi Veronelli, a wine meant to be one-on-one contemplative affair between the drinker and the wine. Vin santo is often considered one.

vino del paese: country wine

vino sfuso: loose wine

vino speziato: mulled wine

vino da tavola: table wine

vite: vine (plural viti)

vino visciolato (or vino di visciole): alcohol based on cherries, or red wine infused with cherries. A speciality of the Marche.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Image by Revol