Gamay: A red grape exceedingly popular in the Beaujolais region of France.
Garagiste: A micro-négociant specializing in very limited-production wines, often known as “vins de garage,” or garage wines, because their production size is such that they could be made in a garage.
Garrigue: As a wine descriptor, garrigue refers to the aroma of the bushy, fragrant plants that grow wild in southern France, such as juniper, thyme, rosemary, and lavender.
Gelatin: The same active gel found in Jell-O, this animal product is used in the fining process to bind with excess tannins so that they may be removed by filtration.
Generic: Lower-quality blends with names like “Mountain White” that are frequently made from inexpensive varieties.
Gewürztraminer: A sweet and spicy white grape popular in eastern France, Germany, Austria, northern Italy, and California.
Glycerin: Produced during fermentation and contributes to the wine’s body.
Goüt de Terroir: the French term for the taste of terroir, meaning the unique characteristics imparted by a specific site.
Graceful: Describes a wine that is harmonious and pleasing in a subtle way.
Graft: A vineyard technique in which the bud-producing part of a grapevine is attached to an existing root.
Gran Reserva: A Spanish term used for wines that are aged in wood and bottles for at least five years prior to release.
Grand Cru: The French term for grand growth, and describes the very best vineyards.
Grand Vin: The French term meaning great wine, it is the premier cuvée made by a winery.
Grapey: Characterized by simple flavors and aromas associated with fresh table grapes.
Grassy: A signature descriptor for Sauvignon Blanc and a pleasant one unless overbearing and pungent.
Gray Rot: Gray rot sets in when the fruit fungus Botrytis Cinerea, because of persistent wet, humid conditions, overruns a crop and destroys the fruit. Fruit afflicted with gray rot appears to be covered in a carpet of gray fur.
Green: Describes wine that tastes of unripe fruit.
Green Harvest: The trimming of unripe grapes to decrease crop yields, thereby improving the concentration of the remaining bunches.
Grenache: A hearty, productive red grape popular in southern France, as well as in Spain, where it is called Garnacha.
Grip: A welcome firmness of texture, usually from tannin, which helps give definition to wines such as Cabernet and Port.
Grown, Produced, and Bottled: Means the winery handled each aspect of wine growing.
Grüner Veltliner: A white grape popular in Austria that makes lean, fruity, racy wines.
Halbtrocken: The German term meaning half-dry.
Half-bottle: Holds 375 ml or 3/8 liter.
Hang time: The amount of time a grape spends ripening on the vine.
Hard: A quality that usually results from high acidity or tannins. Often a descriptor for young red wines.
Harmonious: Well balanced, with no component obtrusive or lacking.
Harsh: Describes astringent wines that are tannic or high in alcohol.
Harvest: The process of picking the grapes, whether by hand or machine. Also, the time period when the grapes are picked; usually September through October in the northern hemisphere and March through April in the southern hemisphere.
Haut: The French term for high. It applies to quality, as well as altitude.
Hazy: Describes a wine that has small amounts of visible matter. Characteristic of wines that are unfined and unfiltered.
Heady: Describes high-alcohol wines.
Hearty: Describes the full, warm, sometimes rustic qualities found in red wines with high alcohol.
Hectare: A quantity of land equivalent to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres. Used frequently in Europe to measure vineyard size.
Hectoliter: A quantity of liquid equivalent to 100 liters or 26.4 gallons. In most of Europe, yield is measured in hectoliters per hectare vs. tons per acre in the U.S.
Herbaceous: Describes the aromas and flavors of herbs in a wine, like basil, oregano, and rosemary.
Hollow: Describes a wine that has some flavor at the beginning of the sip and on the finish, but is missing intensity or distinct flavors in between.
Horizontal Tasting: An evaluation of wines from a single vintage; the wines may highlight producers from a single region or the same grape variety from many regions, among other permutations.
Hot: Describes high alcohol, unbalanced wines that tend to burn with “heat” on the finish. Acceptable in Port-style wines.
Hybrid: The genetic crossing of two or more grape types. Common hybrids including Mueller-Thurgau and Bacchus.
Ice Wine: A dessert wine made from frozen grapes.
Imperial: A large-format bottle holding 6 liters; the equivalent of eight standard 750ml bottles. The Bordelaise equivalent of Burgundy’s Methuselah.
Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT): The Italian quality classification meaning wine typical of a region. It is one level above the base category, Vino da Tavola. It can also be used by super Tuscans.
Intensity: Intensity relates to appearance and aroma. When evaluating appearance, intensity describes the concentration of color. The more concentrated and opaque a wine’s color, the higher its intensity. Common descriptors for color intensity are pale, medium or dark. When evaluating aroma and flavor, the more pronounced or evident the characteristic, the more intense the wine.
Irrigation: Watering the vines. Banned in some regions, yet indispensable to establishing and maintaining vineyards in arid regions, especially where soils retain little moisture. Two methods include Drip Irrigation and the less precise flood irrigation.
Isinglass: A protein derived from the bladders of sturgeon and other fish and used in the fining process. The protein binds with excess tannins, pulling them from overly harsh wines.