Below are some commonly used terms found on Italian wine labels:
Abbazia (ah bah zee' ah) — an abbey.
Abboccato (ah boh ka’ toe) — semi-dry (slightly sweet) and used to indicate a type of wine
Amabile (ah mah’ bee lay) — semi-sweet (“gently” sweet)
Annata (ah not’ ah) — vintage year (i.e., year the grapes were harvested)
Azienda Agricola (ah zee yen' da ah gree' coh lah) — typically a farm or estate that uses its own grapes in the production of its wines.
Barrique (bah reek') — a French word used to indicate an oak barrel that holds 225 liters (59 US gallons) of wine, which is considerably smaller than the traditional Italian botte, large wooden casks that hold from 1,000 liters (264 gallons) to 15,000 liters (3,962 gallons). Barriques originated in France but today are used extensively throughout the Italian wine industry. Complexity, soft tannins and strong new oak aromas and flavours are the benchmarks of barrique-aged wines.
Bianco (bee ahn’ koh) — a white wine
Bottiglia (bo tee’ lee yah) — bottle
Bricco, Bric (bric’ coh; brick) — northern Italian dialect for “ridge” or “slope” to indicate a desirable location for vines
Brut (broot) — a dry sparkling wine
Cantina (can tea nuh) — another name for a winery
Cantina Sociale (can tea nuh soh cha-ah' leh) — a producer or cellar that is a member of a winegrower's cooperative
Cascina (ka shi’nah) — farmhouse, often used to indicate an estate
Classico (clah’ see coh) — from the central (and usually oldest) zone of a production area - for example, Chianti Classico
Cooperativa Sociale (ko awp eh rah tee' vah soh chi-ah' leh) — a winegrowers' cooperative.
Cru (kru) — a French term generally indicating a vineyard or group of vineyards with similar features or attributes. In Italy as well as other countries, cru refers to wines produced from single vineyard grapes. Cru-designated bottlings are currently in vogue throughout Italy, occasionally to excess.
Dolce (dole chay’) — indicates a sweet or dessert wine
Fattoria (fat toh ree’ ah) — a farm or estate
Frizzante (free zahn’ tae) — a delightful Italian word indicating lightly sparkling or fizzy
Imbottiglato all’Origine (im bot tee yahl’ toe ahl oh ree’ gee nae) — estate-bottled
Liquoroso (lee kwo roh’ so) — fortified with alcohol
Passito (pah seet’ toh) — a concentrated sweet dessert wine made from semi-dried grapes
Podere (poh dae’ rae) — a small estate, property
Poggio (po’ zho) — a small hill
Produttore (pro due tor’ ray) — producer
Recioto (ree cho’ toe) — made with partially-dried grapes, similar to Passito.
Riserva (ree zerv’ ah) — aged for a specified time before release
Rosato (row zah’ toe) — a rose wine
Rosso (roh’ so) — a red wine
Secco (sek’ coh) — a dry wine
Sori (sore rhee) — from the northern Italian dialect indicating a favorable, south-facing hillside location for vines
Spumante (spoo mahn’ tae) — a sparkling sweet wine
Superiore (su pee rio’ ree) — a quality distinction indicating a wine that has met certain ageing, alcohol level, crop yield and/or other defined quality standards
Tenuta (tay new’ tah) — a farm or estate
Vendemmia (ven dame’ me ah) — a specific harvest or vintage
Vigna, Vigneto (veen ya’, veen yet’ toe) — indicates a vineyard-specific or cru wine.
Vin Santo (vin san’ toe) — a category of sweet dessert wine ("holy wine") made from semi-dried grapes that are fermented in oak barriques.
Updated: March 6, 2017
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