Primer S

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



A process that involves extracting some of the juice at the start of the fermentation process to make rosé wines or Clairets.


A bottle that contains nine liters, the equivalent of twelve 75 cl bottles.


A French term used to describe vine branches cut off during the year and collected after pruning. In Bordeaux these are used to barbecue meat (the classic 'entrecôte aux sarments'). They may also be buried in the rows of vines to produce organic fertiliser, or ground and burnt.


A white Bordeaux grape variety that gives very aromatic wines.

Secondary aromas

Also known as fermentation aromas. These are produced by yeasts during fermentation. These aromas evoke banana, nail varnish, boiled sweets (after alcoholic fermentation), as well as candles, wax, wheat brioche, or even fresh butter or crème fraîche (after malolactic fermentation).


A white Bordeaux grape variety that is common in syrupy wine producing regions.


A procedure that occurs before fermentation involving the separation of the must and particles (soil particles, leaf and pip debris) to prevent unwanted vegetable flavors. This stage, which involves decanting the grape juice before it begins fermenting, is usually performed by transferring the must from one tank to another.

Shatter/flower abortion

Poor development during grape flowering. It is caused by a variety of factors (rain, cold weather), and has a major impact on yield, but also affects the regularity of grape berries on a bunch.


Describes a wine that leaves little after-taste in the mouth after tasting (synonym


Describes a supple, smooth, moelleux and velvety wine with fine, soft tannins.


Describes a pleasantly moelleux wine that is velvety on the palate. The smoothness of a wine recalls a sweet, therefore sugary sensation. Dry wines are smooth, rather than lively or nervy.


Describes a wine that is well made, especially when it has a good structure.

Sparkling wines

These wines are pressurised with the CO2 that is generated during the fermentation process, and kept inside the wine by placing an airtight seal on the bottle. European regulations have laid out a coding system for these wines depending on the volume of gas and the pressure exerted. A semi-sparkling wine contains 2 to 4 g of CO2 per liter while a sparkling wine has a gas content of more than 4.5 g per liter.


Used to describe a wine with spicy aromas


The series of procedures designed to preserve the wine. Carried out by oenologists.


The woody part of the bunch; in modern winemaking it is separated from the berries before fermentation. The stalk produces 'green' and rustic tannins which are incompatible with the elegance of Bordeaux wines.


Marking corks, barriques or cases with an iron.


Split oak wood that is used for the production of barrels. The origins of the stavewood have an impact on the style of wine produced.


A wine is described as still when it has finished its fermentation and there are no longer any more carbon dioxide bubbles on its surface. More generally, a still wine simply refers to a wine that is not sparkling.

Straight- forward

Describes the overall impression of a wine or one of its elements (color, bouquet, taste, etc.) that has no flaw or uncertainty.


Denotes the framework and general constitution of a wine.


The information 'Contains sulphites' has been compulsory on all labels since 2005 for wines whose sulphur content is more than 10 mg/l, owing to its allergenic character. Sulphur is a stabiliser with antioxidant and antiseptic properties, and has been used in winemaking since the 18th century. It is impossible to make a wine that is completely free of sulphur as small quantities are produced naturally during fermentation.


A legally controlled process during which a small amount of sulphurous gas (sulphur dioxide or SO2) to enable vinification or maturation without the risk of bacterial contamination and to promote stability during maturation.

Sulphur wick

Sulphur's antiseptic and antioxidant properties have been recognised throughout the history of winemaking, as it fights against bacteria and other yeasts which may damage the wine. The idea traditionally is to burn a sulphur wick in empty, clean barrels before they are used again (we now use sulphur in a liquid or powder form).


Describes a smooth wine in which the moelleux aspect dominates the astringency. It is obtained by brief barrel or tank fermentation and has a fluid and light texture. Can generally be drunk young.


Describes a white wine rich in residual sugar (natural, non-fermented sugar). Syrupy wines are very fat on the palate. The sweet white wines of Bordeaux are among the most highly reputed in the world. They can achieve exceptional aromatic intensity and sweetness.