Skip to content Skip to footer

Terms Every Winemaker Needs to Know


As a home winemaker, you ferment grapes to produce your own wine. Along the way, you use some unique tools and techniques, as well as some words that have distinct meaning for winemakers. Brush up on your wine-speak with these essential terms:

  • Brix:

Measure of sugar percentage by weight in a liquid — in this case, grape juice.

  • Carboy:

Narrow-mouthed glass or plastic jug used for fermenting and storing home wines for aging.

  • Crush:

Frenetic annual season when the grapes come in; also the specific process of cracking grape skins to liberate juice.


Process by which yeast turns sugar into alcohol and grape juice into wine.

  • Fining:

Removing specific compounds — like excess tannins — from wine with a specialized fining agent.

Malolactic fermentation:

Optional process in which bacteria turn malic acid into lactic acid, softening wine.

  • Mouthfeel:

Texture of a wine in the mouth, different from aroma and flavor, but just as important.

  • Must:

Juice, with or without skins, pulp, and seeds, ready for fermentation.

  • pH:

Balance of acidic and base properties in a liquid; on a 14-point scale, wine falls between 3.0 and 4.0.

  • Press:

Squeezing juice or wine out of grapes; also the machinery performs this task.

  • Racking:

Transferring wine from one container to another, leaving dead yeast and other detritus behind.

  • Stuck fermentation:

Problem arising when stressed yeast give up, leaving unfermented sugar and producing off odors — not a good thing.

By Tim Patterson

***Grabbed from: