Definition wine, terroir, appellation, grape variety ..

wine definition

Definition of a wine:

The wine is excellent but what is the wine definition? For the definition of a wine, I’m not going to choke you with the full story of this drink, but give you a simple definition:

Wine is exclusively the drink resulting from the complete or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, whether or not crushed, or grape must. Its actual alcoholic strength can not be less than 8.5% vol.

Regarding white wine and sugar level:

Half dry wine From 4 to 12g / l of residual sugar We talk about semi-sweet wine or moelleux wine
Half sweet wine 12 to 45g / l of residual sugar
Sweet wine > 45g / l of residual sugar We talk about sweet wine


Definition of a terroir:

A terroir is a geographical area that includes homogeneous criteria in terms of climate, soils, encépagement and specific knowledge. The terroir is really inseparable from the definition of a wine.

wine definition

The terroir is:

  • A geographical area, a territory
  • A story: transmission and evolution of knowledge through traditions
  • Specific plants and a micro-climate.

All these factors make that a terroir is the cradle of a typical product, unique non-reproducible

The Protected Designation of Origin and the Appellation of Origin Controlled

For the definition of a wine, we often speak of naming. This technical term, which seems rather difficult to understand at the beginning, is not so complicated as one can make you believe. Here is my definition:

A Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) concerns all European wines whose production, processing and production are carried out in a specific geographical area. Each terroir being unique, the PDO guarantees a recognized know-how and a particular specifications. The AOP sign protects the product name throughout the European Union.

An Appellation of Origin Controlled (AOC) means products that meet the criteria of the PDO and protects the denomination on the French territory.

Since January 1, 2012, only wines are allowed to carry the French AOC and not the PDO.

Apart from AOC and PDO, there are two other important names:

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)

All the operations carried out since the harvest of the grapes until the end of the process of elaboration of the wine are carried out in a considered geographical area.

The IGP also meets a set of specifications. However, this specification is less strict than those for PDO and AOC.

However, do not get me wrong! Many people think that a wine that is not a PDO is necessarily of poor quality, which is obviously false. Take for example the famous Tariquet present in thousands of restaurants around the world, it is actually a wine IGP!

Wine without a geographical indication (VSIG)

Wines without a geographical indication are called “Vin de France

The name “Vin de France” includes French wines from wine blends from different French wine regions. They can also carry the mentions of varietal and vintage. The use of these mentions is subject to approval by FranceAgriMer.

VSIG meet much less stringent specifications than AOC, PDO and PGI.

Again many people think that these wines are worthless. It is true that it will be much more difficult to find a wine that really stands out, but it is, in my opinion, quite possible.

We therefore have the classification of the following wines:

AOP = PDO in french

IGP = PGI in french


Definition of a grape variety of wine


We often talk about grape when we talk about wine, but what is it?

The grape variety is simply a type of vine plant. There are more than 6000 varieties! However, winegrowers use only a very small portion of these grape varieties. In the Bordeaux region for example, we will focus on 3 main grape varieties for red wines:

  • Merlot is used to make aromatic red wines (red fruits and spices) and not too tannic (so it will add roundness). The wines can be young bus or aged.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon gives dark red wines, powerful and very tannic, with aromas of black fruits (blackberry, blackcurrant ..). It is therefore better to let wines containing them age to soften the tannins.
  • Cabernet Franc makes less tannic wines, a little less colorful and more aromatic (floral). It will also bring freshness to the wine but also the structure.

We also have 3 main grape varieties for white wines:

  • Semillon gives white wines with aromas of dried fruit, herbal tea or acacia. Its unctuous texture and fruity characterize with time; it is therefore not surprising that it is the most used to make moelleux or sweet white wines.
  • Sauvignon Blanc is a grape that gives the wine more freshness and acidity. The aromas will be closer to citrus fruit or apple.
  • Muscadelle gives aromatic wines (exotic fruits or white flowers). It will add to the wine a more round texture.

Winegrowers rarely use a single varietal to make their wine. They mix several to enjoy the benefits of each wine. This is called wine blend.

You must also know that each region has its favorite grape variety! Do not hesitate to take a tour of the vineyards to know your favorite region:

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