Italian Wine terms

Below are some commonly used terms found on Italian wine labels:

Abbazia (ah bah zee' ah) — an abbey.

Abboccato (ah boh ka’ toe) — semi-dry (slightly sweet) and used to indicate a type of wine

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 zee yen' da ah gree' coh lah) — typically a farm or estate that uses its own grapes in the production of its wines.

Barrique (bah reek') — a French word used to indicate an oak barrel that holds 225 liters (59 US gallons) of wine, which is 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) — 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) — 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 (kah shi’ nah) — farmhouse, often used to indicate a wine 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 chi-ah' leh) — a winegrowers' cooperative.

Cru (kru) — a French term indicating a vineyard or group of vineyards with similar features or attributes.and generally refers to wines produced with grapes from a single vineyard. As in many other wine-producing countries, cru-designated bottlings are currently in vogue throughout Italy

Dolce (dole chay’) — indicates a sweet or dessert wine

Enoteca (en oh tek' ah) — literally, a wine library and generally refers to public or private shops with wines for sale and/or tasting.

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 extra period of time before release

Rosato (row zah’ toe)  — a rosé 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 dry or 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

Tradizionale or metodo classico (tra ditzee ohn ahl' leh) — terms for sparkling wines utilizing the bottle fermentation process that originated in the Champagne region of France

Vendemmia (ven dame’ me ah) — a specific harvest or vintage. Vendemmia tardiva translates as "late harvest" and refers to grapes that are left to fully ripen on the vine

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

Vino da Tavola (vee' noh dah ta' vo lah) — table wine or more generally a wine that is not a classified wine such as DOC or IGT


Richard Marcis
Updated: July 6, 2017



Help keep this website ad-free and independent.
Consider making a contribution to support the work of
For your safety and security, all transactions are remotely processed using PayPal's secure servers.
No credit card or other sensitive information is held on this site. However, you do not need a
PayPal account to make a contribution as PayPal will also process regular credit card transations.


Copyright 2008-2016, Richard Marcis. All rights reserved.