Italian wine definitions - the definitive guide

You won't ever be baffled by an Italian wine label again!

Italian wine definitions - the definitive guide. Every term or adjective that you are likely to come across whilst reading Italian wine labels or on a wine tasting tour.

91 of them all on one page.


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If you are planning a wine tasting trip around an Italian winery or vineyard. Or two. Or three. Or even just popping down the road to your local wine merchants. Print this page and take it with you. You won't ever be flummoxed again :)

Wine definitions



The Italian wine definitions

The Italian wine dictionary with the translation of a few general Italian adjectives thrown in to help.


Age - Eta

anno - year

barrique - wine barrels

decrepito - too old

giovani - young

invecchiato - aged

maturo - aged and ready to drink


Alcohol - Alcol

alcolica - alcohol

leggero - low alcohol


Colour - Colore

brillante - bright colour

chiaretto - claret

cristallino - crystal-clear

riflessi verdognoli - greenish nuances

giallo paglierino - pale yellow, straw-coloured

torbido - cloudy


Perfume - Profumi

ampio - with complex aromas

aromatico - very clear perfume

delicate note floreali - delicate floral notes

equilibrato - with the right balance between aroma and taste

erbaceo - herbal scents

floreali - with a bouquet of flowers

fragrante - fragrance, often refering to a perfume of bread or yeast

fruttato - fruity, with the scent of fresh fruit

persistente - with a lasting scent

speziato - spicy aroma


Taste - Sapori

abboccato - slightly sweet

acidita - acidity

allappante - too rich in tanins

amabile - distinctly sweet

armonica - a perfect harmony of taste and aroma

bilanciato - balanced

complesso - complex, a wine of mixed aromas an tastes

corposo - full-bodied, rich and well structured

corto - with a flavour that fades rapidly

disarmonico - unbalanced taste

dolce - sweet, full of sugar, more than sweet

equilibrato - with the right balance between aroma and taste

magro - lean, lacking in body or structure

molle - soft, low acid content

pastoso - very sweet

persistente - persistent

piatto - flat, sparsely acidic

ricco di zuccheri - full of sugar

sapido - contains a significant but not excessive acidity

seccho - dry

spigoloso - prickly, lack of smoothness

tanini - tanins

tannico - with an astringent taste, a still young wine

vinoso - with amusty perfume


Types - Tipi

bianco - white wine

brut - a dry sparkling wine

classico - an Italian legislative term used in addition to DOC or DOCG that denominates wine produced by traditional means in an area often delineated by a formal decree.

dessert - dessert or sweet wine

DOC - Denominazione di Origine Controllata - an Italian wine classification denoting a quality wine, the grapes for which have been grown in a specific denominated area and the wine produced from them by a defined method.

DOCG - Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita - as the DOC classification, but with the addition that these wines are also analysed and tested by government licensed inspectors before being bottled and sealed with a numbered seal around the cap of the bottle.

IGT - Indicazione Geografica Tipica - high quality wines previously known as Super Tuscans before the classification became into being in 1992, that do not meet the requirements set by the Italian government for the DOC or DOCG classification. Some IGT wines are, however, some of the very best made in Italy. Find out more... Super Tuscan wines

liquoroso - fortified wine

monovitigno - made with a single variety of grape

riserva - an additional Italian legislative term for wines that have been aged for at least a period of two years longer than normal for that particular type of wine.

rosati - rosé wine

rosso - red wine

spumante - sparkling wine

vino da tavola - table wine made in Italy without other classification.

super Tuscan - refer to the IGT classification above and click on the link for lots more information.


General wine definitions: useful terms and adjectives

azienda agricola - farm

corpo - body

cotto - cooked, a faulty wine due to over ripening of the grapes

delicato - delicate

distinto - distinctive

fermentazione - fermentation

forte - strong

fresco - fresh

frutti di bosco - fruits of the forest

frizzante - fizzy

legnoso - woody

muffoso - mouldy

ossidato - oxidised

piatto - flat

profondo - deep

ricco - rich

ricco di noce - nutty

robusto - robust, full-bodied

sa di tappo - corked

secco - dry

struttura - structure

sviluppato - developed

terroir - the unique combination of climate, geography, geology and "terra" (soil) of the land on which vines are grown - even a particular section of vineyard within a larger estate - which gives the wine produced from those grapes a distinct and unique character.

verde - green

vigna or vigneto - vineyard

vigoroso - vigorous, robust, strong

vitigno - species of grape vine

vivace - lively, vibrant, vivacious


Tuscany vineyard in Maremma Italy


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