Primer P

Learn wine vocabulary thanks to this primer specially designed by the Bordeaux Wine School.


Palissage (trellising)

The replacement of posts that have been damaged by inclement weather or machines, replacing and retightening wires.

Past its best

Describes a wine that has spent too long in a cellar, and has lost all of its qualities. It is worn out, at the end of its life.

Patron saint of winemakers

Celebrated on 22 January with parades and other festivities, St Vincent, protector of vineyard laborers, is a symbol of fortune and prosperity for the upcoming vintage. The story goes that this deacon and martyr from Zaragossa in the 4th century used the French word for wine, "vin", in his first name.


A wine at its peak has acquired maximum quality, and is about to begin its decline. The peak of a Bordeaux wine depends on the richness of its tannins, natural acids and aromatic components.

Pellicular maceration

A phrase right before fermentation begins that involves macerating the grape berries at a low temperature away from the air, in order to activate the first aromas. A standard fermentation process follows, with oxygen provided for the yeasts, which transform the sugar from the grapes into alcohol.


Describes the length of flavors and aromas in a wine. Long aromatic persistence is a positive sign of a wine's power.

Petit Verdot

A red grape variety found in the Bordeaux region.


An aphid which between 1860 and 1880 destroyed the Bordeaux and European vineyards, killing all the vinestock roots. This plague devastated European viticulture. Owing to a grafting technique using resistant American rootstock, the vineyards were re-established in the early 20th century.


A popular French nickname for an ordinary wine. This term was entered into the dictionary of the Académie Française in 1935, and it has three possible origins. The Greek word pino meaning to drink, a certain Jean Pinard from the 17th century, or indeed a derivative of pineau, a Burgundian grape variety. The word pinard was also used to describe a comforting companion for infantrymen in the trenches during the First World War.


Molecules that form inside plants from sugars. Contained inside grape skins, pips and stalks, and responsible for tannins and color in the wine. Known for their natural antioxidant properties and medicinal benefits, the riper and healthier the grape, the more its molecules benefit the structure of the wine and its polyphenol properties.


Solid parts of the grape which are pressed at the end of the alcoholic fermentation process. The press wine is richer and less harmonious than the free-run wine. It used for blending.


Character of a wine which is ample, full-bodied, generous and with a complex bouquet.


A wine produced by pressing the pomace after devatting (see Devatting). The various presses are selected and a specific volume decided upon by the oenologist will be blended with the free-run wine (see Free-run wine).

Press (pneumatic or hydraulic)

A winemaking tool used to extract grape juice by pressing the fruit. The hydraulic press applies vertical to pressure using a mobile wattle which is manoeuvred using a hydraulic leveller, whereas the pneumatic press applies horizontal pressure against a press-cage using a pocket filled with air or compressed air.


A procedure involved in the making of white wines that involves pressing the grapes to extract the juice (white). In the vinification of red wines, it is performed on the solid parts of the grape at the end of the alcoholic fermentation process.

Primary aromas

Primary aromas are those that pre-exist inside the grape and are revealed during fermentation. They give each grape variety an olfactory characteristic. For example, Sauvignon has a primary aroma that recalls boxwood in the wines of Bordeaux; Cabernet Sauvignon expresses blackcurrant bud or licorice sticks. Merlot evokes strawberry. Primary aromas usually evoke floral, fruity, or vegetable notes.


In Bordeaux a 'vente en primeur' is the sale of a grand cru classé wine before the final product has been finalised. The wines are then matured for 18 months in barrels inside the storehouses. This tradition ties the Château to the merchant. The Château ensures that its cash flow is guaranteed and buyers can obtain a discount on the final price of the wine, which is only marketed two years later.


Cutting back the vine branches to regulate and balance the growth of the vine. Pruning also helps to keep yield under control (also known as load). Pruning has a direct impact on the volume of the harvest, and as a result, of the quality and concentration of the grapes.

Pumping over

Takes place at the start of fermentation. Aims to provide the oxygen required for efficient multiplication of the yeasts. The must is pumped from the tank at the bottom and, after it has been aired, returns to the tank at the top. Additional benefit

Punching down

An ancestral technique used once alcoholic fermentation has begun, to mix the 'cap' (solid particles on the surface) with the liquid juice inside the tank. The aim is to oxygenate the fermenting must and promote the optimal extraction of tannins.