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Wine Glossary A-C

A-C | D-L | M-R | S-Z

Natural acids (citric, malic, lactic or tartaric) that occur in fruit. In wine, tartaric acid provides tartness.


To add oxygen to wine during the winemaking process or while decanting a wine.

Holding wines for a period of time in barrels, tanks or bottles to affect the character of the finished wine.

Ethyl alcohol (or ethanol) formed in wine during fermentation, which affects the taste, aroma and mouthfeel of wine.

Alcohol Level

The percentage of alcohol by volume of a wine. Most table wines have between 9 and 15% alcohol by volume.

American oak barrel
Barrels made from oak wood from American forests. American oak barrels are generally thought to impart more aggressive wood flavors than do French oak barrels.

American Viticultural Area (AVA)
The term given in the United States to an officially designated winegrape growing region. AVAs are defined officially by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) based on geographic, climatic and historical criteria. Generally, if an area can demonstrate that it has geographic and climatic conditions significantly different from the surrounding area, it may petition the BATF for an AVA designation.

A descriptor used to describe the impression of fullness in the mouth.

Generally the first category by which wines are judged in a sensory evaluation. The wine's clarity and color are the primary factors evaluated.

The official geographic origin of a wine, which becomes part of a wine's official name.

Odors in a wine that originate from the grape. Some distinguish these smells from "bouquet," but the term is often used to describe all smells of a wine.

A descriptor used to describe wines that have pronounced smells, particularly fruity and floral smells.

The harsh, drying sensation in the mouth that is caused by high levels of tannin. The opposite of the wine descriptor "smooth."

The relationship between a wine's alcohol, acid, residual sugar and tannin. A wine is considered well-balanced when no one of these components stands out significantly from the rest.

A wooden container, generally 60-gallons, used for fermenting and/or aging wines.

A term used for wines that matured for a period of time after fermentation in oak barrels.


A term used for wines that are fermented in oak containers. The benefit of this method is the development of a more subtle oak character than that of barrel-aged only wines.

The term used to describe red wines that exhibit aroma and flavor reminiscent of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.

A term used to describe wines that are very intense or very full.

To store bottled wine for further aging, before its release for sale.

A taste sensation generally experienced on the back of the tongue.

Black fruits

Wine aromas and/or flavors that suggest black currants, black cherries, blackberries, blueberries, or other black fruit.

Black grapes
Wine grapes with a blue or reddish skin pigmentation that are used to make red wines.

Blanc de blancs
A white wine made of white grapes.

Blanc de noirs

A white wine made of red grapes.

To combine two or more individual lots of wine, either of different varietals, different vineyards or different vintages. The term generally applied to a wine derived from the juice of different grape varieties.


The Spanish term for a winery, or the building where wine is stored.


A tactile sensation describing the viscosity or "weight" of wine in the mouth. Body is correlated with the level of alcohol and extract. Wines are described as light-, medium- or full-bodied.

Botrytis cinerea

A mold produced in very particular conditions of temperature and humidity that pierces grape skins, causing dehydration. Also known as "noble rot."


Sweet wines made from grapes affected by botrytis cinera.

Description of the character of a wine derived from its maturation period in bottle.

Bottle aging
The maturation period of a wine after bottling that allows some of its components to mature and a bottle-aged bouquet to form.

The odors of wine attributed to the winemaking process: fermentation, processing and aging, particularly those that develop after bottling.

A term used to describe wines whose characteristics are perceived vividly, either visually or by aroma and flavor.

The description of a wine that is absolutely clear.

The measure of the density of grape juice or fermenting wine, used to ascertain sugar level at harvest.

Almost-dry Champagne.

Butter-like flavor in wine created by malolactic fermentation (a secondary fermentation) caused by the presence of diacetyl.

Cabernet Franc

A red wine grape known for its use in the fine wines of Bordeaux, particularly wines of Pomerol, Saint-Emilion and Medoc. Also grown in Italy and California.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Considered the most important red wine grape throughout the world, and the basis of the most famous wines of California, Bordeaux, and many other wine districts.

The foliage of a grape vine.

Canopy management
The viticultural techniques used to balance shoot growth and fruit development to maximize the varietal character of the grapes.

A layer of skins and seeds that forms on top of the juice during fermentation of red wines.


Metallic or plastic foil that covers the cork and the upper neck of a wine bottle.

A distinctive odor in heated sweet wines and a subtle component of Champagne.

A large wooden container used for making or storing wines.


Aromas or flavors that resemble the smell of cedar wood.


A region in France and the sparkling wines produced there using the methode champenoise. In the US, this term is semi-generic to mean sparkling wine.

A product or person of France's Champagne district.

The impression of a wine being solid and having integrity and substance.


A white grape variety considered one of the world's finest. Widely planted and used both for dry, barrel-aged table wines as well as blends for fine sparkling wines.

Chenin Blanc

A versatile white variety known for dry and sweet table and sparkling wines of Loire, France, as well as dry table wines of California and South Africa.

Clearness in the wine.

A sub-variety of a wine grape variety that exhibits specific enological characteristics.

The device used to seal a wine bottle, usually a cork.

Cold Stabilization

Chilling wine before bottling to remove potassium acid tartrate crystals or other sediment from the finished wine.

A descriptor used to describe a wine that is intense but not full.

A wine that exhibits many different odors and flavors.

A term to describe aromas and flavors that are dense.

A descriptor used for a wine whose flavors or fruit character are tightly knit.

One who makes or repairs wooden barrels or casks.

Corked or Corky
A moldy odor and flavor caused from a fungus-infected cork, caused by tiny amounts of tyrene that contaminate the wine.

A characteristic used to describe a wine. Often associated with a wine that has ungone malolactic fermentation.

French term for wines that are slightly sparkling, literally "creaming." Cramant wines have 4 atmospheres of pressure compared to Champagne's 6.

A term for wine that feels clean and slightly brittle in the mouth, usually from high acidity.

After stems are removed, breaking the grape skins prior to pressing and fermentation. The term also applied to the season of the year (during harvest) when this occurs.


A machine that breaks open grapes and usually de-stems them as well.

French term for
a specific blend of wines, usually of different varietals and vintages, combined to make Champagne.

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