Glossary of Wine Terms
LABELING — In North America, wine labels are remarkably straightforward and reliably informative. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (BATF) subjects each and every wine label, indeed each and every item that appears on the outside of the bottle, from the capsule to the back label to the main label and its design, to a rigorous review and approval process, insuring that everything meets the Bureau’s strict regulations. For a varietal name (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon) to be listed on a label, a minimum of 75 percent of the wine must be comprised of that grape. If no varietal is listed, but a special proprietary name is given, the wine is likely to be a blend of several grapes (see Meritage). The vintage and vintner are always prominently displayed on each label, as well as the area of origin (as specific as an individual vineyard, or as general as a large growing area) and the percentage of alcohol in the wine, although this may vary a degree or two in either direction.
LABRUSCA — See Vitis labrusca
LATE HARVEST — Term used to indicate wine made from extra-ripe grapes that have been purposely left on the vine beyond normal picking time, generally to enhance sugar content.
LEAFY — Describes wine with a smell characteristic of leaves. Very leafy wines are considered green.
LEAN — Lacking fatness or mouth-filling flavor, though perhaps pleasant.
LEES — Heavy sediment, including dead yeast cells, that falls to the bottom of a wine vat during fermentation.
LENGTH — The duration of flavors and aromas remaining in the mouth after swallowing; finish. Good length is a characteristic of most quality wines.
LIGHT WINES — Wines low in alcohol content. Also used legally to describe a wine with fewer calories than standard table wine.
LIVELY — Describes a wine with good acidity and freshness.
LONG — Having flavors or aromas that remain in the mouth after swallowing.
LUSH — Fat; rich; opposite of hard.