glossary

You can browse our topics using the letters below, or search for a term.

Letter E:

Early Harvest: Denotes a wine made from early-harvested grapes, usually lower than average in alcoholic content or sweetness.

Earthy: Describes wines with aromas or flavors of soil or earth. In small amounts the aromas or flavors can add complexity and be positive characteristics, but become negative as the intensity increases. Frequently associated with Pinot Noir.

Ébourgeonnage: French term for debudding vines. This is performed early in the growing season as part of yield control and canopy management.

Éclaircissage: French term for green harvest, or crop thinning. Grape bunches are removed to improve air flow through the canopy, facilitate the ripening of the remaining bunches and reduce the crop yield.

Edelfäule: German term for Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot.

Eiswein: Wine made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. Since only the water in the grapes freezes, the super-concentrated grape pulp produces a wine that is very sweet and often high in acidity. Eiswein is an official German classification; such wines from other regions are called ice wine.

Elegant: Describes balanced, harmonious, refined wines; subtle rather than a highly-extracted blockbuster.

Élevage: French term for the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling. Comparable to the term "raising" in English; think of élevage as a wine's adolescence or education. The raw fermented juice is shaped during this period into something resembling its final form, through techniques such as barrel aging, filtering and fining. Good winemaking decisions during élevage can help the juice achieve its full potential; bad decisions can leave it flawed.

Empty: Similar to hollow; devoid of flavor and interest.

En Primeur: Also known as "futures" in the American market, en primeur sales typically refer to Bordeaux, but not exclusively. The en primeur offerings are a winery's first offer of a particular vintage, when the initial price is set, and offers buyers the opportunity to purchase wines before they are released.

Enologist: A scientist involved with winemaking.

Enology: The science and study of winemaking. Also spelled oenology.

Enophile: A lover of all things vinous.

Estate-Bottled: A term once used by producers for those wines made from vineyards that they owned and that were contiguous to the winery "estate." Today it indicates the winery either owns the vineyard or has a long-term lease to purchase the grapes.

Esters: The fragrant chemical compounds responsible for the aromas and flavors found in food and wine.

Eszencia: Turkish dessert wine classification for Tokaji made from the free-run juice of individually picked, botrytized aszú berries.

Ethyl Acetate: A sweet, vinegary smell that often accompanies acetic acid. It exists to some extent in all wines and in small doses can be a plus. When it is strong and smells like nail polish, it's a defect.

Extra Brut: The driest Champagne or sparkling wine. The scale, from driest to sweetest, is: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra-Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux.

Extra-Dry: A common Champagne term not to be taken literally. Most Champagnes so labeled are slightly sweet.

Extract: Richness, depth and concentration of fruit flavors in a wine. Usually a positive quality, extract adds to wine’s body, yet highly extracted wine can also be very tannic. To calculate extract levels, some winemakers measure the dry residue remaining after the wine is boiled off.

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