Necessary Terms

I don’t know about you, dear drinker, but my knowledge of wine is pretty much akin to my knowledge of everything else – I know very little about a lot of things. It makes for intelligent, often improvised, most always short conversation, but if you have to delve any deeper, I’d be the one with the blank stare on my face. So, with that awkward moment in mind, it is part of my mission to compile this dictionary – a cheat sheet, if you will – of wine terminology to help even the most layman vino aficionado. I’ll add more as I think/come across them.

Fake it ’til you make it.

Whan terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H |  I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Aperol – an Italian aperitif. While Aperol was originally created in 1919, it did not become successful until after World War II. Its ingredients are, among others, bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona.

Appellation d’origine controlee – “If it doesn’t say Appelation Control, don’t pick it up.” Sage advice from my wine-loving father. Most wine producing countries have a board with certain qualifications and specifics a bottle or vintage must meet before they can be sold to the public. Gutter wine hasn’t passed those tests. You can drink it, but it’s probably closer to gasoline than the gastronomical delight you’re hoping for. Trust. (Appellation d’origine controlee is the French term – wines from other countries should have some variation of that printed on the label.)


Corkage – the fee a restaurant charges when you bring your own wine. Most restaurants will note somewhere on their website or menu (you could also just ask…) if it’s okay to bring your own bottle. But they will charge to open it. They gotta make their money somehow.


Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – a red Italian wine made from the Montepulciano wine grape in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy. It is often a deeply coloured wine with pepper and spice notes, and can be described as “rustic.” Master of Wine Mary Mary Ewing-Mulligan describes the wines as aromatic, tannic, and with a low acidity, while wine expert Joe Bastinanich says it can be highly aromatic with earthy notes and black berries, with an inky-purple colour and a thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel.  


Rosé – perhaps the prettiest looking wine you might ever come across (in this writers not-so-humble opinion), rosé is a usually delicate type of wine that derives its distinctive pinkish hue from the red skin of the grape, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine. Not to be confused with white zinfandel or arbor mist.


White Zinfandel – fundamentally a go-to for soccer moms and sorority girls, white zinfandel is a pink-blush wine with a low alcohol content. According to my best friend Wikipedia :

Historically an inexpensive jug wine White Zinfandel is a quaffing wine that is sweet, soft, and often low in alcohol, making it a popular choice with those who would not otherwise drink wine.

If you confuse it with rosé, you might as well wear a garbage bag.

**This section is a constant work in progress. If you have a term you want to clarify in dumb speak, feel free to submit it! Email me: