Introduction:

Drinking alcohol (wine, beer, spirits/liquor etc...) is common in most countries in the world (and especially in the English-speaking world). For most people, drinking alcoholic drinks/beverages is a way to relax at home, with friends and family or in business situations (e.g. at business lunchs, conferences etc...).

In many countries the most commonly drank alcoholic drink is wine. But in the countries where it isn't, wine is regarded as a drink of quality and culture. This is especially the case in English-speaking countries where knowing about wine gives a good impression to other people.

So, it is important to know the vocabulary used to talk about it. And this is what you'll learn here.

In this online exercise you'll learn and remember the essential English vocabulary for wine. You'll learn the names of the many different types of wine, vocabulary connected to drinking wine and also the English vocabulary which is important when ordering and choosing wine in a bar or restaurant.

This exercise does not cover the English vocabulary for describing the taste and smell of wine. To learn this vocabulary, I recommend that you do our online exercise on describing the taste of wine after doing this exercise.


Exercise: Choosing a wine in a restaurant

Read the following conversation in a restaurant in Yorkshire between Peter and Juan about the different types of wine to accompany a meal.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Peter:'So what do you want to drink with the meal?'

Juan:'Well, in Spain I would have wine, but I suppose here in England you drink beer.'

Peter:'You do realise that we do drink good wine in England?'

Juan:'You're joking?'

Peter:'No. Look, there's a wine list. Do you want to have a look?'

Juan:'There's a good selection of wines here. Ah, there are Spanish wines as well. They have a Marqués de Riscal 2004. It's a very good vintage, one of the best years for Rioja wine. Actually, I went to the vineyard where they grow the grapes and make this wine when I was in the north of Spain 2 years ago. And bought a case of Rioja from them for half the price it is in the shops. Do you like dry red wine?'

Peter:'Well, yes I do. But I want to have fish, so I don't think a dry red wine is a good idea. I'd prefer a white wine or something between a white and a red wine, like a rose. Look on the wine list they have a selection of new world wines.'

Juan:'I'm not so sure about new world wines from Argentina, California, Australia etc... They don't have the tradition that we have in Spain, or in France. I bought a bottle of Australian Chardonnay last year and the cork was made of plastic! That's not right, a cork should be made of cork!'

Peter:'You're a snob and think that the best wine is from Spain. I quite like bottles of wine with plastic corks. They don't break when you're opening the bottle with a corkscrew. So when you pour the wine from the bottle into the glass there's never any small pieces of cork in the wine. And new world wines always tell you on the label what type of grape the wine is made from, like Tempranillo, Shiraz or Chardonnay. So, you know if it's a dry, medium or sweet wine.'

Juan:'Philistine.'

Peter:'What about having a Cava with the meal? It's white, Spanish and semi-dry. It still has a little sweetness.'

Juan:'Are we celebrating? You do know that it's a Champagne?'

Peter:'Is it? But it isn't a Champagne. Champagnes can only come from the Champagne region of northern France. So Cava is a sparkling wine.'

Juan:'Whatever. Well, we can have a white non-sparkling wine with the meal. I don't want to spend too much money, so we should choose a table wine. On the wine list they have an Australian Sauvignon Blanc as the house wine. Is that OK?'

Peter:'Fine by me.'

Juan:'I hope that they know that the wine has to be chilled when it's served. I hate drinking white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Albariño which haven't been in a fridge and are served at room temperature.

What do you want to drink with the dessert? A dessert wine or a sweet sherry?'

Peter:'What's a dessert wine?'

Juan:'It's a very sweet wine which you normally have when eating something sweet. Sherry is different, it's a fortified wine. They add a spirit, which has more alcohol to the wine when making it.'

Peter:'You choose.'



Quiz: Essential wine vocabulary & terms

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these words/phrases in bold. Only use one word/phrase once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A wine that is slightly sweet, is called    

         

Semi-dry:
(adjective) Wines are categorised by their level of sweetness, i.e. 'how much sugar remains in the wine'. 'Semi' or 'medium' dry is a type of wine which is still slightly or a little sweet, e.g. Riesling. There are also semi-sweet wines, which have a stronger taste of sugar in the wine. In Spanish: "semiseco".

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Semi-dry:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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2. Wines that come from Argentina, California, South Africa etc..., are called    

         

New world wines:
(noun) This refers to all wines that come from outside Europe and the Mediterranean area. Often New World Wines are produced using modern wine making methods. They also differ from traditional wines from Europe by placing the type(s) of grapes that a wine is made from on the label, e.g. Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon etc... In Spanish: "vinos del nuevo mundo".

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New world wines:

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3. A wine of average or below average quality, is often called a    

         

Table wine:
(noun) Although there are some differences of opinion, most people agree that a 'table wine' is an average or below average quality wine, which isn't expensive. In restaurants, a very common example of a 'table wine' is the 'house wine'. In Spanish: "vino de mesa".

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Table wine:

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4. The verb used when you transfer/move wine from a bottle to a glass, is    

         

Pour:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to pour'. This verb is not only used for wine, but for transferring any liquid from one container to another, e.g. 'they poured the chemicals into the sea'. In Spanish: "verter/echar".

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Pour:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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5. A type of wine which has a stronger type of alcohol added to it when it is being made, is    

         

Sherry:
(noun) This is a fortified wine (Brandy is added to the wine when it is being made) from the south of Spain. There are different types of sherries from sweet to dry, but all sherries have a higher alcohol content than normal wine. Another popular fortified wine is 'Port' from 'Portugal' which is more fruity than sherry. In Spanish: "jerez".

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Sherry:

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6. A device that people use to open a bottle of wine, is called a    

         

Corkscrew:
(noun) A 'corkscrew' is used to remove the 'cork' or 'stopper' (that prevents the wine from leaving the bottle) from the bottle. A 'corkscrew' is not used to open bottles of sparkling wine or champagne. In Spanish: "sacacorcho".

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Corkscrew:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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7. The year of the wine, is normally called the    

         

Vintage:
(noun) The 'vintage' has two different meanings with wine. The main meaning is the year when the wine is made, e.g. '2005 is a good vintage for Champagnes'. The second meanings is connected to quality. Good wines are often called 'vintage wines'. In Spanish: "cosecha".

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Vintage:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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8. The fruit that wine is made from, is    

         

Grape:
(noun) This is the basic ingredient for wine. There are hundreds of different varieties/types of 'grapes' that are used to make wine, e.g. Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot etc... The grapes used to make wines are not the ones that people normally eat, they are less sweet. In Spanish: "uva".

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Grape:

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9. A wine that has a pinkish colour, is called a    

         

Rosé:
(noun) This is the least commonly drank wine (red and white are a lot more popular). A lot of the rosé wines on the market are semi-sweet, e.g. Mateus Rosé. But it is possible to find dry rosé wines. In Spanish: "rosado".

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Rosé:

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10. Champagne is a type of wine that is    

         

Sparkling:
(adjective) A 'sparkling' wine is a 'carbonated' or 'fizzy' wine. Normally, they are white wines. It is a common mistake to call all sparkling white wines 'Champagnes', but Champagnes are only sparkling wines that come from the Champagne region of Northern France. In Spanish: "espumoso".

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Sparkling:

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11. A wine that is not sweet, is called    

         

Dry:
(adjective) Wines are categorised by their level of sweetness, i.e. 'how much sugar remains in the wine'. 'Dry wines' are a type of wine where there is very little sweetness, e.g. Chardonnay or Merlot. Dry sparkling wines are normally called 'Brut'. In Spanish: "seco".

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Dry:

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12. A wine that is slightly cold when served or drank, is    

         

Chilled:
(adjective) There are some wines that are best drank (to bring out the flavours of the wine) when they are slightly cold or 'chilled' (especially white and sparkling wines). The amount of time that a wine should be kept refrigerated depends on the type of wine. A Riesling wine should be chilled longer than a Chardonnay wine. In Spanish: "frio/enfriado".

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Chilled:

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13. The name of the 'stopper' that prevents wine from leaving the bottle, is    

         

Cork:
(noun) The majority of bottles of wine have a 'cork'(although cheaper wines sometimes have a metal screw top). 'Corks' are normally made from wood (from the Cork Oak tree, where the name for it in English comes from) or from plastic (although it's not very common). In Spanish: "corcho".

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Cork:

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14. A wine that is not cooled before drinking, is served at    

         

Room temperature:
(noun) There are some wines that are best drank (to bring out the flavours of the wine) when they are not cooled/chilled, but at 'room temperature' (especially red wines ). This noun normally follows 'to serve at', e.g. 'this wine is best served at room temperature'. Experts say that 'room temperature' means a temperature between 10 and 15 degrees centigrade. In Spanish: "temperatura ambiente".

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Room temperature:

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15. A very sweet wine, is often called a    

         

Dessert wine:
(noun) Wines are categorised by their level of sweetness, i.e. 'how much sugar remains in the wine'. 'dessert' or 'sweet' wines are wines that are very sweet, e.g. 'Muscat'. 'Dessert' or 'sweet' wines are normally drank at the end of the meal with the dessert. In Spanish: "vino dulce".

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Dessert wine:

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16. The place where the grapes are grown and where the wine is sometimes made on, is called a    

         

Vineyard:
(noun) 'Vineyard' is the name of the places which grow the grapes which are used to make wine. You often find that very good or vintage wines are also made on the 'vineyard' which the grapes they use to make the wine are grown on. The building where the wine is actually made, is called a 'winery'. In English, the people who make the wine are called 'winemakers'. In Spanish: "viña/bodega".

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Vineyard:

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Practice

Now that you understand the new vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences in English with the new words/phrases.