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Abboccato: Medium sweet wine
Acerbo: Tart
Aceto: Vinegar
Aglianico: Red grape grown in the Campania region
Alcool: Alcohol
Annata: Vintage year
Appassimento: Drying grapes in order to concentrate sugar
Acidita’: Acidity
Acido: Acetic, acidic, vinegary taste or smell
Acquoso: Watery, refers to very thin wines with low flavor
Amabile: Medium sweet wine
Amaro: Bitter, generally a defect in wines with some exception
Annata: Vintage
Aperto: Open, refers to a wine with well defined character
Armonioso: Harmonious, refers to perfectly balanced wine
Aromatico: Aromatic, refers to wines with pronounced aroma
Astringente: Astringent, refers to wines with high tannin content
Asciutto: Dry
Austero: Austere, refers to wines with bold complex fruity character
Azienda agricola: An estate using its own grapes to produce its own wines
Azienda vinicola: A producer who buys grapes and makes wine
Barbera: Classic grape commonly grown in the Piedmont region
Barolo: Top Piedmont red wine, made with the Nebbiolo grape
Bianco: White
Bilanciato: Balanced, refers to wines with many well combined harmonic elements
Botte: Cask
Botticella: Small wine cask
Bottiglia: Bottle
Brunello di Montalcino: Top Tuscan red wine
Cantina Sociale: Co-operative wine producer and cellar
Caraffa di Decantazione: Decanter
Cascina: Farmhouse
Castello: Castle
Cerasuolo: Cherry colored rose’ wine from Sicily
Chiaretto: Rose’ wine from Garda
Chiuso: Closed, refers to to a wine that doesn’t reveal its character
Classico: Classic, an original DOC wine from a typical region
Complesso: Complex, refers to wines with many combined aromas
Consorzio: Producers trade association
Corpo: Body, refers to the texture of a wine (light bodied, full-bodied, etc).
: White grape used in Piemonte
Corvina: Red grape used in the Veneto area for wine blends
Cotto: Cooked, a negative wine attribute, for wines made from overripe grapes
Debole: Weak, refers to wines with low character
Delicato:  Delicate, a wine with light balance and body
Distinto: Distinctive, refined, elegant wine
DOC: Abbreviation for "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" (controlled place of origin)
DOCG: Abbreviation for "Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita" (controlled and guaranteed place of origin)
Dolcetto: Dry red wine grown in Piedmont
Dolce: Sweet
Elegante: Elegant stylish wine
Enologo: Enologist with a college degree
Enoteca: Wine shop
Enotecnico: Wine technician with a diploma.
Etichetta: Label
Fattoria: Estate
Fiasco: Flask, the old classic bottles covered with straw
Fermentazione naturale: Natural fermentation.
Fiorito: Flowery, taste of flowers
Forte: Strong wine with high alcohol content
Fresco: Fresh, with no defective aromas
Frascati: White wine from the Lazio Region
Freisa: Red grape used to make wines in Piemonte
Frizzante: Slightly sparkling
Frutta: Fruit
Fruttoso: Fruity taste of fruit and fresh grapes
Giovane: Young, immature fresh wine not fully aged and developed
Gradazione alcoolica: Alcoholic percentage
Grappa: Italian strong liquor made with fermented grape skins
Grechetto: White grape used to make Orvieto wine
IGT: Abbreviation for "Indicazione Geografica Tipica" or typical location name
Imbottigliato: Bottled
Imbottigliato all'origine: Bottled by the producer
Invecchiato: Aged
Leggero: Light, referring to low alcohol content
Legnoso: Woody, a defect of wines with a wood taste
Liquoroso: Strong, often fortified, wine
Litro: Liter
Madre: Literally “mother,” the matrix or residue from earlier vintages
Malvasia: An ancient grape, cultivated in Europe for 2000 years!
Marchio: Brand name, trade mark
Marsalato: Wine that has oxidized, has a dark color and a cherry-like taste
Maturo: Mature, ripe and completely developed wine, ready for consumption
Montepulciano: Top red wine from Tuscany
Muffa: Moldy, very bad defect of wine smelling like mold
Nebbiolo: Grape used to produce Barolo and Barbaresco wines in Piemonte
Nobile: Noble, defines a balanced wine, attributed to important vintage
Noce: Nutty, defines wines that taste like walnut or have a nut-like aroma
Ossidato: Oxidized, refers to a wine that has oxidized, has a dark color and a cherry-like taste
Passito: A sweet wine made in part from dried grapes
Piatto: Flat, dull, uninteresting wine
Podere: A small estate
Produttore: Producer
Profondo: Deep, a wine with many layers of flavor
Proporzionato: A good proportion of aroma and alcohol
Quercia: Oak, a taste that develops from aging wines in oak
Recioto: Sweet wine from the Veneto area, similar to Passito
Ricco: Rich and complex wine
Riserva: Reserve, for DOC wines, aged for a certain length of time
Robusto: Robust, refers to a full bodied wine
Rosato: Rose’
Rosso: Red
Sangiovese: The main red grape variety used in Tuscany
Sapore: Flavor
Scelto: Selected
Secco: Dry
Semisecco: Off dry, medium sweet
Soave: White wine from the Veneto
Solfato: Sulphur, an anti-oxidant used in making wine
Spesso: Thick, dense
Spessore: Thickness
Spumante: Sparkling wine
Stravecchio: Very old
Struttura: Structure, refers to the way a wine is proportioned
Super Tuscan: Refers to the new high quality styles of wine in Tuscany
Superiore: Superior  
Sviluppato: Developed, mature, pleasant
Tannino: Tannin, a natural component of red wines, found in the seed, skin and stems of grapes
Tappo: Cork. A very negative attribute of wine smelling like cork
Tenuta: Wine estate
Vernaccia: White grape used in San Gimignano
Vinacce: Grape skins, seeds, and pulp left after wine has been pressed, used to make grappa
Vigna: Vineyard
Vin Santo: Sweet wine from Tuscany
Uva: Grape
Vecchio: Old
Vellutato: Velvety, refers to a smooth aroma
Verde: Green, defines a wine made from unripe grapes
Vigna, Vigneto: Vineyard
Vigoroso: Vigorous, defines wines with a forward taste
Vino da tavola: Table wine
Vino Novello: New wine, bottled less than a year
Vite: Vine
Viticoltore: Grape grower
Vitigno: Grape variety
Vivace: Lively, slightly sparkling, refers to wine with fresh content
Zolfo (see solfato)
Zuccheri Residui: Residual sugar

Anna Maria Volpi - © Anna Maria Volpi
Italian Wine
Dictionary - Glossary
by Anna Maria Volpi  

Reading wine labels can be very confusing if you are not an expert or if you are not familiar with the terms.