The glossary compiles commonly occurring wine tasting jargon as well as terminology unique to the world of wine. This includes terms relevant to growing and production of wine.

Browsing the glossary can be very informative. At we firmly believe that even casual perusing of the material can be an active learning process.

Where possible, we also provide a guide to pronouncing these names. See our Pronunciation Guide for an explanation of the notation.




Hames Valley

: (AVA). Located at the southernmost part of the Salinas Valley, at the foothills of the Santa Lucia mountain range. It is a warmer than average growing region growing predominantly Bordeaux varietals (including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). Also grown here are varietals traditionally used in Port, such as: Verdelho, Souzao, Tinta Cao and Touriga Nacional.  More.


: (tasting term). Describes wines with abrasive or astringent tannins or displaying high acidity. Common characteristic of young Rhône wines can be hard.

Hard Spice

: (tasting term). Typically refers to a combination of smells of cinnamon, cardamom and clove. See also: Bien Nacido Spice.


: (tasting term). Describes a wine that is too hard. This is a flaw in a wine of any age.


: (tasting term). Describes wines high in alcohol.  


: (tasting term). Describes a full, warm and sometimes rustic quality of red wines high in alcohol.

Heat bomb

: A wine typified by high alcohol levels, usually exceeding 15% alcohol by volume. The alcohol in these wines is excessive and overpowering. Often these wines are made from over-ripe grapes, with high extraction of flavors, lacking varietal characteristics and  dominated by raisiny or pruny flavors and significant residual sugars.

Heat shock

: A condition seen in wines exposed to high heat. It usually is a result of excessive heat during storage or transport. These wine are also called 'cooked' and display flat, stale aromas and flavors. The telltale signs of this are corks pushed up past the rim of the bottle and wine leakage around the cork. Heat shock differs from bottle shock which occurs after bottling because of introduction of oxygen into the wine. It results in a similar aroma and flavor character but is usually reversible.


: Agricultural measure of land area. Abbreviated Ha. 100 meters by 100 meters. (A rough conversion is 1 yard = 1 meter). The hectare is 10 000 m2. A hectare is approximately equivalent to 2.5 acres. Since an acre is about 3/4 of a football field, a hectare is an area comparable to a little less than two football fields.


: A measure of volume for expressing vineyard yields. A hectoliter is 100 liters (just over 36 Gallons; 11 Cases and 1.3 bottles; 133.3 bottles). Yields are commonly expressed in hectoliters per hectare.


: (tasting term). An herbal smell that can be quite distinctive and identifiable in some wine. The most commonly encountered smells are thyme, lavender, rosemary, oregano, fennel, or basil  - all of which are common in Rhône wines.


: (tasting term). The taste and smell of herbs. This is desirable in wines like Sauvignon Blanc but not in wines like Merlot or Cabernet.

Herbes de Provence

: (tasting term). [ERB duh pro-VOHNS] These include lavender, thyme, sage, rosemary, and oregano. A typical recipe for Herbes de Provence calls for: thyme, summer savory, lavender, rosemary, sage and oregano or basil. Provence is known for wild herbs that grow abundant all over the region. Southern Rhône Valley wines tend to display these smells.  


: [HER-mee-TADZH] A small hillside appellation in Northern Rhône only about 126 Ha in total area. This region is the home of the Syrah grape. Because of the size of the region, wine production is small but the wines are very high quality. Dense, perfumed red wines which need years to mature and be at their best. Needless to say, these wines are very pricy. The region also produces a very small amount of age-worthy white wines from the Marsanne and Roussanne grapes.


: (tasting term). Describes a dilute wine lacking in flavor, depth, concentration and texture. May have some flavor on entry but that truncates quickly. Synonym: shallow.


: (tasting term). Describes a wine that has the smell and taste of bees' honey. This is different from ‘confected’ which describes a sweet aroma or flavor which is more like candy. Some white Rhône wines are ‘honeyed’.


: (tasting term). Refers to a wine with excessive and disproportionate alcohol levels. Often, these levels cause a  burning sensation in the mouth or the back of the throat. This may be encountered in wines with alcohol levels above 14% and deficient depth of fruit. Such wines are typically unbalanced.


: A vine or grape which results from a cross between a Vitis vinifera variety with an American vine. This is distinct from a crossing which takes place between two Vitis vinifera species.

 A D V E R T I Z I N G