Italian wine terms

Abbazia (ah bah zee’ ah) — an abbey.

Abboccato (ah boh ka’ toe) semi-dry (slightly sweet)

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 zhen da’ azh ri co’ lah) — typically a farm or estate that uses its own grapes in the production of its wines.


Barrique (bah reek’) — a new oak barrel that holds 225 liters (59 US gallons) of wine, 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 cha-ah’ leh) — a winegrowers’ cooperative.

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.