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Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control

Product Knowledge

Below, you will find information to assist in a better understanding of beverage alcohol. Please click on items of interest to you.

Beer Types – All malt beverages are rightly referred to as "beers," but there are two distinct types of beer, ales and lagers. This document explains the difference and notes the styles of beer in each type.

Grape Types – This document discusses different types of grapes and their uses in wine

Glossary of Wine Terms – Although most wine descriptors make sense, this document provides the universal definition for wine terminology

Champagne Terms – This document provides explanations for types and terminology used specifically when discussing Champagne

Imported Cordials at a Glance – Every cordial and specialty item is unique in flavor, in production method and in history. This document provides some understanding of the different types of imported cordials that are available.

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Beer Types

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All malt beverages are rightly referred to as "beers," but there are two distinct types of beer: ales and lagers.

ALE STYLES - Until the 1800s, all beers were ales. That is, they were brewed with yeasts that fermented at the top of the fermenting tank. Ales are brewed around the world, but most of the distinctive styles known today originated in Britain. The British used hops in brewing by the 10th century, but the practice somehow died out and did not reassert itself until 1552, when King Edward VI issued an edict allowing their use. Virtually all ales now use hops in the recipe, though some use additional flavorings. Ales also are commonly conditioned or aged in the bottle to develop strength and flavor. Here are some of the major top-fermenting ale and beer styles:

  • Altbier
    A German style of top-fermenting beer, altbier comes from the German alt, meaning "old." These light ales are cold-conditioned, making them more similar in taste to lagers than ales.


  • Barleywines
    These brews are very strong (7.5% to 14% alcohol by volume) and intended to rival great wines in terms of depth, complexity, smoothness and body.


  • Bitter
    British ales, usually bronze to deep copper in color, that are heavily hopped, giving them a high degree of hops bitterness.


  • Brown ale
    A sweet, dark brown ale brewed in southern England. Brown ales in northern England are more reddish in color, slightly higher in alcoholic content and have a drier finish.


  • Cream Ale
    An American invention, cream ales are usually blends of pale golden, mild, light-bodied ale and lager. Only two outstanding examples remain in this country, Genesee Cream Ale and Little Kings.


  • Golden Ale
    Originally produced in the late 19th century to compete with the growing popularity of golden lagers. They tend to be light to medium in body with some hop aroma and a clean finish.


  • India Pale Ale
    This style were originally created in the 1700s with a higher alcohol content and a double dose of hops (a natural preservative) to withstand the long and arduous shipment to British troops and colonists in India. The style is popular with many American microbrewers.


  • Lambic
    Brewed in Belgium, lambics are made with both barley and 30% to 40% unmalted wheat. The mash is left to ferment spontaneously with wild yeast from the atmosphere for a night, then barreled for the rest of the primary and a secondary fermentation. Lambics are sometimes casked with cherries, raspberries or other fruit. Young lambics are dry, sour, cloudy, and similar in taste to a cider. Aged lambics are more mellow and settled.


  • Mild
    The English term for ales that are only mildly hopped, and therefore less bitter than "bitters" or "stouts." Most are dark brown, though they range in color to copper. They're full-bodied in flavor, but have relatively low alcohol content.


  • Pale Ale
    Pale generally refers to the color of the malt used to brew this ale. The malt is only dried instead of roasted, giving the resulting brew a lighter bronze or copper color than the brown ales, and a lighter, less hearty flavor.


  • Porter
    A style developed in London in the early 1700s in response to customer demands for a blended brew drawn from casks of pale ale and brown or stout, Porter was originally a heavy brew. Once extinct, the style has been revived in recent years, and is made with highly roasted malt. It has a less pronounced hop flavor than other ales, and a slightly sweet taste.


  • Scotch Ale
    In a country known more for its malt whiskies, Scotch ales are heavily dominated by malt flavor, but range in strength.


  • Stout
    Stout has a dark, almost black color (due to highly roasted malt), and a rich malty flavor usually combined with a strong, bitter hops taste. There are a couple of versions of this type of ale. "Dry" stout is the Irish style, which is more "hoppy" in character and may contain roasted unmalted barley. "Sweet" or "milk" stout was given its name because of the lactose used as a nonfermentable sugar in the brew, giving it a sweeter taste. "Imperial" stout was originally brewed in Russia and adopted as an English style. It's usually medium dry, very heavy, and generally very strong.


  • Trappist
    Only the order of monks bearing this name may rightly use the term Trappist to describe their brews. The order has five breweries in Belgium and one in The Netherlands that produce a variety of ales under the nomenclature. The ales are usually brewed with candy sugar, are bottle-conditioned and range in color from bronze to dark brown.


  • Weisse (or Weissbier)
    Brewed from wheat instead of the more traditional barley, weisse beer also is brewed with top-fermenting yeast. Most are light and tart in taste with a bready or yeasty aroma, and pale in color.

LAGER STYLES - When bottom-fermenting yeasts were discovered, their advantages were quickly promoted first through Europe and then the world. Bottom fermentation takes place at lower temperatures, and the yeast settles to the bottom of the fermenting vat, out of harm's way. When the process was first discovered, many brewers produced the new lager during the colder winter months, and continued to brew ale in the spring and summer. As advances in refrigeration techniques took hold, brewers were able to brew the new type of beer year-round. Lager comes from the German word lagern, which means to store. The beer was not only brewed at lower temperatures for a longer period of time (anywhere from five to fourteen days instead of the two to four days for ales), it was then stored in cold cellars to undergo a slow second fermentation and aging process. The new method of brewing became so popular that a wide range of styles developed almost overnight. Here are a few of the major styles:

  • American Lager
    The largest selling beers in this country, including the leading lights, all fall into this rather broad category. The style is derived from European pilsners and tends to be clean and crisp with more carbonation and minimal hop character.


  • Bock
    A German term for strong beer, bock beers are usually brewed for consumption in the late winter, spring or autumn. They can range in color from golden to tawny to brown and are generally stronger than typical lagers (more than 6.25% alcohol by volume). Versions of bock beer include "Maibock," a bock brewed to be consumed in spring, and "Doppelbock," an extra strong (7.5% alcohol by volume) tawny or dark brown beer.


  • Dortmunder
    Technically, this is a beer brewed in the German city of Dortmund, but it often refers to the city's classic style of Export. There are actually seven brewing companies in the city of Dortmund producing a wide variety of beer styles with the name Dortmunder. The Export style is a beer that is pale and medium dry, with a little more body and alcoholic content than pale lagers from Munich and Pilsen.


  • Dry
    Originally a style in Germany where carbohydrates were diminished by a very thorough fermentation (creating a high alcohol content), dry beer was popularized by Japanese brewers. The mild version brewed in America has a conventional alcohol content, and is noted for having no "beery" aftertaste. Although brewers felt the category showed a great deal of promise in the late '80s it turned out to be more of a fad than a new direction. In 1997 dry beers accounted for only 0.1% of all beer consumed in the U.S.


  • Ice
    First introduced in Canada in 1993, this style has been embraced by most of the large U.S. and Canadian brewers it has been more successful than dry beer but still accounts for less than 4% of U.S. beer volume. There are several different methods being used for brewing ice beer. At its most basic, ice beer is created by brewing at cooler-than-normal temperatures then chilling the beer to below freezing to form ice crystals, which are then filtered out.


  • Marzen
    Originally a beer that was brewed and casked in March for consumption through the summer months, Marzen eventually came to be associated with one specific style -- a malty, medium-strong version of the Vienna style.


  • Munchener (or Munich-style)
    This dark brown lager is full-bodied with a sweet malt flavor and slight hop taste that is more creamy and aromatic than a light lager. The dark color and malty flavor come from roasted barley. Most dark super premiums and imports (Michelob Dark, Lowenbrau Dark, Beck's Dark) are fashioned after Munchener beers.


  • Pilsner (or Pils)
    A true pilsner can only come from the town of Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. Pilsner Urquell ("original") is the only real pilsner still around, but most light lager beers are now modeled after this style. Urquell is characterized by a hoppy aroma and a dry finish, unlike most of the pilsner style beers produced in this country which have lighter body and character.


  • Vienna
    An amber-red lager originally produced in Vienna, the term Vienna also still refers to the amber-red kilned malt that produces this style of beer.

Grape Types

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WINE AND GRAPE TERMS AND TYPES
  • Albariño
    Spanish white wine grape that makes crisp, refreshing, and light-bodied wines.


  • Aligoté
    White wine grape grown in Burgundy that makes medium-bodied, crisp, dry wines with spicy character.


  • Amarone
    From Italy's Veneto Region a strong, dry, long-lived red, made from a blend of partially dried red grapes.


  • Arneis
    A light-bodied dry wine the Piedmont Region of Italy.


  • Asti Spumante
    From the Piedmont Region of Italy, A semi-dry sparkling wine produced from the Moscato di Canelli grape in the village of Asti.


  • Auslese
    German white wine made from grapes that are very ripe and thus high in sugar.


  • Banylus
    A French wine made from late-harvest Grenache grapes. Good served with chocolate or dishes with a hint of sweetness. By law the wine must contain 15 percent alcohol.


  • Barbera
    Most successful in Italy's Piedmont region having high acidity, deep ruby color and full body, with low tannins & berrylike flavors.


  • Barbaresco
    A red wine from the Piedmont Region of Italy, made from Nebbiolo grapes. It is lighter than Barolo.


  • Bardolino
    A light red wine from the Veneto Region of Italy. Blended from several grapes, the wine is garnet in color, dry and slightly bitter, sometimes lightly sparkling.


  • Barolo
    Highly regarded Italian red, made from Nebbiolo grapes. It is dark, full-bodied and high in tannin and alcohol. Ages well.


  • Beaujolais
    Typically light, fresh, fruity red wines from an area south of Burgundy, near Lyons, in eastern France. Areas include: Beaujolais-Blanc, Beaujolais-Villages, Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Mouliné-à-Vent, Morgon, Regnie, Saint-Amour.


  • Blanc de Blancs
    Champagne or white wine made from white grapes.


  • Blanc de Noirs
    White or blush wine or Champagne made from dark grapes.


  • Blush
    American term used synonymously for rosé. Any wine that is pink in color.


  • Boal or Bual
    Grown on the island of Madeira, it makes medium-sweet wines.


  • Brunello
    This strain of Sangiovese is the only grape permitted for Brunello di Montalcino, the rare, costly Tuscan red. Luscious black and red fruits with chewy tannins.


  • Cabernet Franc
    Red wine grape used in Bordeaux for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon. It is an earlier-maturing red wine, due to its lower level of tannins. Light- to medium-bodied wine with more immediate fruit than Cabernet Sauvignon and some of the herbaceous odors evident in unripe Cabernet Sauvignon.


  • Cabernet Sauvignon
    Currant, Plum, Black Cherry & Spice, with notes of Olive, vanilla, mint, tobacco, toasty cedar, anise, pepper & herbs. Full-bodied wines with great depth that improve with aging. Cabernet spends from 15 to 30 months aging in American & French Oak barrels which tend to soften the tannins, adding the toasty cedar & vanilla flavors.


  • Carignan
    Known as Carignane in California, and Cirnano in Italy. Once a major blending grape for jug wines, Carignan's popularity has diminished though it still appears in some blends. Old vineyards are sought after for the intensity of their grapes


  • Carmenere
    Also known as Grande Vidure, once widely planted in Bordeaux. Carmenere, was imported to Chile in the 1850's, and is now primarily associated with that country. Carmenere has been frequently mislabeled and many growers and the Chilean government consider it Merlot.


  • Cava
    Spanish sparkling wine. Produced by the méthode champenoise.


  • Charbono
    Mainly found in California (may possibly be Dolcetto), this grape has dwindled in acreage. It is often lean and tannic, and few wineries still produce it.


  • Chardonnay
    Apple, pear, vanilla, fig, peach, pineapple, melon, citrus, lemon, grapefruit, honey, spice, butterscotch, butter & hazelnut. Chardonnay takes well to oak aging & barrel fermentation and is easy to manipulate with techniques such as sur lie aging & malolactic fermentation.


  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    The most famous wines of the southern Rhône Valley are produced in and around the town of the same name (the summer residence of the popes during their exile to Avignon). The reds are rich, ripe, and heady, with full alcohol levels and chewy rustic flavors. Although 13 grape varieties are planted here, the principal varietal is Grenache, followed by Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre (also Vaccarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Piquepoul, Picardan, Rousanne, Bourboulenc).


  • Chenin Blanc
    Native of the Loire where it's the basis of the famous whites: Vouvray, Anjou, Quarts de Chaume and Saumer. In other areas it is a very good blending grape. Called Steen in South Africa, where it is their most-planted grape. California uses it mainly as a blending grape for generic table wines. It can be a pleasant wine, with melon, peach, spice and citrus. The great Loire wines, depending on the producer can be dry and fresh to sweet.


  • Chianti
    From a blend of grapes this fruity, light ruby-to-garnet-colored red may be called Chianti Riserva when aged three or more years.


  • Chianti Classico
    To be labeled Chianti Classico, both vineyard and winery must be within the specified designated portion of the Chianti wine district.


  • Claret
    British term for red Bordeaux wines.


  • Constantia
    This legendary sweet wine from South Africa was a favorite of Napoleon. It comes from an estate called Groot Constantia.


  • Cortese
    White wine grape grown in Piedmont and Lombardy, and best known for the wine, Gavi. The grape produces a light-bodied, crisp, well-balanced wine.


  • Dolcetto
    From northwest Piedmont it produces soft, round, fruity wines fragrant with licorice and almonds.


  • Eiswein
    "Ice wine," A sweet German wine, made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. Freezing concentrates the sugars in the grapes prior to harvesting.


  • Frascati
    An Italian fruity, golden white wine, may be dry to sweet.


  • French Colombard
    The second most widely planted white variety in California, nearly all of it goes into jug wines. The grape produces an abundant crop, nearly 11 tons per acre, and makes clean and simple wines.


  • Fumé Blanc
    see Sauvignon Blanc


  • Gamay
    Beaujolais makes its famous, fruity reds exclusively from one of the many Gamays available, the Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. Low in alcohol and relatively high in acidity, the wines are meant to be drunk soon after bottling; the ultimate example of this is Beaujolais Nouveau. It is also grown in the Loire, but makes no remarkable wines. The Swiss grow it widely, for blending with Pinot Noir; they often chaptalize the wines.


  • Gamay Beaujolais
    A California variety that makes undistinguished wines. Primarily used for blending.


  • Gattinara
    A Piedmont red made from Nebbiolo blended with other grapes. Powerful and long-lived.


  • Gewürztraminer
    A distinctive floral bouquet & spicy flavor are hallmarks of this medium-sweet wine. Grown mainly in Alsace region of France & Germany, and also in California, Eastern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.


  • Grappa
    An Italian spirit distilled from pomace. Dry and high in alcohol, it is an after dinner drink.


  • Grenache
    Used mainly for blending and the making of Rose and Blush Wines in California, while in France it is blended to make Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Originally from Spain is the second most widely grown grape in the world. It produces a fruity, spicy, medium-bodied wine


  • Johannisberg Riesling
    See Riesling


  • Kir
    An aperitif from the Burgundy Region of France. A glass of dry white wine and a teaspoon of crème de cassis make this popular drink. To make Kir Royale, use champagne or sparkling wine.


  • Lambrusco
    A fizzy, usually red, dry to sweet wine from northern Italy, made from the grape of the same name.


  • Liebfraumilch
    A blended German white, semisweet and fairly neutral, which accounts for up to 50 percent of all German wine exports.


  • Madeira
    A fortified wine named for the island on which its grapes are grown. The wine is slowly heated in a storeroom to over 110ºF, and allowed to cool over a period of months. Styles range from dry apéritifs, from the Sercial grape, to rich and sweet Boal and Malmsey.


  • Malbec
    Once important in Bordeaux and the Loire in various blends, this not-very-hardy grape has been steadily replaced by Merlot and the two Cabernets. However, Argentina is markedly successful with this varietal. In the United States, Malbec is a blending grape only, and an insignificant one at that, but a few wineries use it with the most obvious reason being that it's considered part of the Bordeaux-blend recipe.


  • Marc
    A distilled spirit made from pomace that is known by different names around the world. Italy calls it grappa; in Burgundy, Marc de Bourgogne; in Champagne, Marc de Champagne. Dry and high in alcohol, typically an after-dinner drink.


  • Marsala
    Made from Grillo, Catarratto, or Inzolia grapes, this Sicilian wine may be dry or sweet and is commonly used in cooking.


  • Marsanne
    A full-bodied, moderately intense wine with spice, pear and citrus notes. Popular in the Rhône and in Australia (especially Victoria) has some of the world's oldest vineyards. California's "Rhône-Rangers" have had considerable success with this variety.


  • Mead
    Common in medieval Europe, a wine made by fermenting honey and water. Wine makers are now making flavored meads.


  • Meritage
    Registered in 1989 with the U.S. Department of Trademarks and Patents by a group of vintners, who sought to establish standards of identifying red & white wines made of traditional Bordeaux grape blends. They needed a name for these wines since 75% of a single variety is not used, therefore the label could not state a particular variety of grape. Meritage was chosen because it was a combination of two words merit and heritage. To be called a meritage, the wine must:
    • Blend two or more Bordeaux grape varieties:
        Red wines: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Gros Verdot, Malbec,   Merlot, Petite Verdot & St. Macaire.
        White wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Sémillon.
    • Have less than 90% of any single variety.
    • Be the winery’s best wine of its type.
    • Be produced and bottled by a United States winery from grapes carrying a U.S. appellation.
    • Be limited to a maximum of 25,000 cases produced per vintage.

  • Merlot
    Herbs, green olive, cherry and chocolate. Softer & medium in weight with fewer tannins than Cabernet and ready to drink sooner. Takes well to oak aging. It is frequently used as a blending wine to soften Cabernet.


  • Montepulciano
    A medium to full-bodied wine, with good color and structure. Known for its quality and value.


  • Moscato
    see Muscat


  • Mourvedre
    A pleasing wine, of medium-weight, with spicy cherry and berry flavors and moderate tannins. Often used in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.


  • Müller-Thurgau
    A cross of two grapes - Sylvaner and Riesling. Mainly grown in Germany, Northern Italy, and New Zealand, it is light in color, and can be dry to medium dry.


  • Muscat
    Also known as Muscat Blanc and Muscat Canelli. With pronounced spice and floral notes it can also be used for blending. A versatile grape that can turn into anything from Asti Spumante and Muscat de Canelli to a dry wine like Muscat d'Alsace.


  • Nebbiolo
    The great grape of Northern Italy, which excels there in Barolo and Barbaresco, Nebbiolo makes strong, ageable wines. Mainly unsuccessful elsewhere, Nebbiolo also now has a small foothold in California. So far the California wines are light and uncomplicated, bearing no resemblance to the Italian types.


  • Petit Verdot
    From the Bordeaux Region of France it is used for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon.


  • Petite Sirah
    Plum & blackberry flavors mark this deep, ruby colored wine. Usually full-bodied with chewy tannins. Used in France & California as a blending wine. Not related to the Syrah of France.


  • Pinot Blanc
    Similar flavor and texture to Chardonnay, it is used in Champagne, Burgundy, Alsace, Germany, Italy and California and can make a excellent wines. It can be intense, and complex, with ripe pear, spice, citrus and honey notes.


  • Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
    At its best this varietal produces wines that are soft, perfumed with more color than most other white wines. Grown mainly in northeast Italy, but as Pinot Gris it is grown in Alsace & known as Tokay.


  • Pinot Meunier
    Grown in the Champagne region of France, it is blended with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to add fruit flavors to champagne.


  • Pinot Noir
    This is the great, noble grape of Burgundy. Difficult to grow but at its best it is smooth & richer than Cabernet Sauvignon with less tannin. Raisin like flavors with undertones of black cherry, spice and raspberry. Widely used in the making of champagne sparkling wines.


  • Pinotage
    A cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, Pinotage is grown in South Africa. Fermented at higher temperatures and aged in new oak for finesse and wonderful berry flavors.


  • Port
    Fortified wine from the Douro region of Portugal. Styles include: Late Bottle (LB), Tawny, Ruby, Aged, and Vintage. Mostly sweet and red.


  • Retsina
    Dry white Greek wine flavored with pine resin. Dating back to ancient Greece, it is an acquired taste. Dominant flavor is turpentine.


  • Riesling
    Flavors of apricot & tropical fruit with floral aromas are characteristics of this widely varying wine. Styles range from dry to sweet.


  • Rosé
    Sometimes used interchangeable with “blush”. Any light pink wine, dry to sweet, made by removing the skins of red grapes early in the fermentation process or by mixing red and white wines.


  • Roussane
    A white wine grape of the northern Rhône Valley, mainly used for blending with the white wine grape Marsanne.


  • Sangiovese
    Known for its supple texture, medium to full-bodied spice flavors, raspberry cherry and anise. Sangiovese is used in many fine Italian wines including Chianti.


  • Sauternes
    A blend of mostly Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, it can be affected by Botrytis cinerea, which concentrates the wine's sweetness and alcohol.


  • Sauvignon Blanc
    Grassy & herbaceous flavors and aromas mark this light and medium-bodied wine, sometimes with hints of gooseberry & black currant. In California it is often labeled Fume Blanc. New Zealand produces some of the finest Sauvignon Blanc in a markedly fruity style.


  • Sémillon
    The foundation of Sauternes, and many of the dry whites of Graves and Pessac-Léognan. It can make a wonderful late-harvest wine, with complex fig, pear, tobacco and honey notes. As a blending wine it adds body, flavor and texture to Sauvignon Blanc. It may be blended with Chardonnay, but does not add much to the flavor.


  • Sherry
    Fortified wine from the Jerez de la Frontera district in southern Spain. Palomino is the main grape variety, with Pedro Ximénez used for the sweeter, heavier wines. Drier Sherries are best served chilled; the medium-sweet to sweet are best at room temperature. Ranging from dry to very sweet, the styles are: Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Pale Cream, Cream, Palo, and Pedro Ximénez.


  • Shiraz/Syrah
    Black cherry, spice, pepper, tar & leather with smooth tannins & supple texture make this wine a growing favorite. With early drinking appeal it also has the ability to age well to form more complex wines.


  • Soave
    A straw-colored dry white wine Italy's Veneto Region.


  • Symphony
    Symphony is a University of California Davis clone. In 1948, the Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris grapes were combined to create this delicate Muscat flavor. It's very distinctive.


  • Tokay
    See Pinot Gris


  • Traminer
    See Gewürztraminer


  • Trebbiano
    Trebbiano in Italy and Ugni Blancin France. Found in almost any basic white Italian wine, and is actually a sanctioned ingredient of the blend used for Chianti. In France it is often called St.-Émilion, and used for Cognac and Armagnac brandy.


  • Ugni Blanc
    See Trebbiano


  • Valpolicella
    A light, sem-idry red from Italy's Veneto Region, that is typically drank young.


  • Verdicchio
    Italian white that produces a pale, light-bodied, crisp wine.


  • Viognier
    Viognier, is one of the most difficult grapes to grow. It makes a floral and spicy white wine that is medium to full-bodied and very fruity, with apricot and peach aromas.


  • Zinfandel
    With predominant raspberry flavors and a spicy aroma, Zinfandel can be bold and intense as well as light and fruity. It takes well to blending bringing out flavors of cherry, wild berry & plum with notes of leather, earth and tar. It is the most widely grown grape in California. Much of it is turned into White Zinfandel, a blush wine that is slightly sweet.

Glossary of Wine Terms

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  • Acidity
    this generally refers to the natural acid in grapes. Translated into tasting terms such as "crisp", "tart", "lively", and "refreshing," when there is a good balance of acidity.

  • Aeration
    Letting a wine "breathe" by swirling it in a glass or letting an open bottle sit. Aeration can soften young, tannic wines; it can also fatigue older ones.

  • Aftertaste
    The taste that stays in the mouth after swallowing wine. Also known as finish, this flavor can be buttery, oaky, spicy, tart, or bitter.

  • Aging
    Wine can age in bottles, barrels, vats, or stainless steel tanks. Many wines improve during the aging process, a process that may take anywhere from five months to five years before the wine is ready to be sold.

  • Aroma
    The smell of the wine. Some wine drinkers only use "aroma" for younger wines and the term "bouquet" for aged wines.

  • Astringent
    The tannins, or acid, or combination that produces a harsh, pucker-y, dry feeling in the mouth. Tannin will usually decrease with age. A little bit of astringency is to be expected in robust, rich, full-bodied red wines.

  • Austere
    A major geek term, austere is a vague definition of a wine that has a high level of acid and/or tannin, but is expected to soften with age. "Hard" is a synonym for austere.

  • Backbone
    Used to denote those wines that are full-bodied, well-structured and balanced by a desirable level of acidity.

  • Backward
    Used to describe a young wine that is less developed than others of its type and class from the same vintage.

  • Balance
    The prize characteristic in wines. The interrelationship between alcohol, sugar, acid and tannin. No one of these should stand out to the detriment of another.

  • Bananas
    Very young wines, tank samples, wines which have undergone a very cold fermentation or freshly bottled wines will often smell like bananas. The component responsible for this is iso-amyl acetate, which diminishes with age.

  • Barrel-aged
    Wines that are fermented in containers such as stainless steel and then placed into wooden barrels for maturation. It may also refer to wines fermented and aged in the barrel.

  • Big
    Used to describe wines that are very full or very intense.

  • Body
    Describes how a wine feels in your mouth, its weight and fullness. It can be described as light, medium, or full.

  • Botyrtis Cinerea or Noble Rot
    A mold that is responsible for the character of dessert wines from Sauternes (France) and much of Germany. A naturally occurring mold that extracts water from the grapes leaving the juice that remains sweet and highly concentrated, with a honeyed character. The climatic conditions necessary to produce botrytis are unpredictable and cannot be reproduced artificially.

  • Bottle Shock
    A condition that can affect wines immediately after bottling or shipment. The wine can be flat or off, or smell of sulfur dioxide. Stored properly it should disappear in two or three weeks.

  • Bottle Sizes (old)

    • Bottle = 750 ml
    • Magnum = 2 bottles
    • Jeroboam = 4 bottles
    • Rehoboam = 6 bottles
    • Methuselah = 8 bottles
    • Salmanaza r= 12 bottles
    • Balthazar = 16 bottles
    • Nebuchadnezzar= 20 bottles
       
  • Bouquet
    As opposed to aroma, bouquet is more encompassing. It is the odor which derives from the fermentation process, from the aging in wood and bottle process, and other changes independent of the grape variety used.


  • Breathing
    Allowing a wine to mix with the air. Breathing can be beneficial for many wines especially reds as it enables oxygen to mix with the wine, which speeds the aging process. To let a wine breathe or not before serving depends on the wine. It is not always beneficial to let older wines breathe prior to drinking because they may age too quickly.


  • Briary
    A term for young wines with an earthy or stem-y wild berry character.


  • Bright
    A wine can be visually bright, have bright aromas, or flavors. In each instance the wine is perceived vividly.


  • Brix
    A measurement of the sugar content of grapes, must and wine, indicating the degree of the grapes' ripeness (meaning sugar level) at harvest. Most table-wine grapes are harvested at between 21 and 25 Brix. To get an alcohol conversion level, multiply the stated Brix by .55.


  • Brut
    A term that refers to a very dry sparkling wine.


  • Capsule
    The protective sheath over the cork and neck of a wine bottle. This keeps the cork from drying out and letting air into the bottle.


  • Chaptalization
    Adding sugar to the must, which raises alcohol potential


  • Character
    A description when the wine is perceived as being solid and having substance.


  • Clarity
    Refers to the cloudiness or sediment in a wine.


  • Compact
    Used when a wine is intense, but not full.


  • Crisp
    The acidity gives the wine a clean feel in your mouth. Often crisp wines are light in body.


  • Decant
    Transferring wine from the bottle to another container, either to aerate the wine or for presentation.


  • Deep or Depth
    Describing wines with layers of taste. Often refers to a more mature wine.


  • Dilute
    A description of a wine whose aromas and flavors are thin and watery.


  • Domain
    A French term for a wine estate.


  • Dry
    A subjective term for opposite of sweet. It can describe wines with a rough feel on the tongue.


  • Dull
    Lacking liveliness and proper acidity; uninteresting. It may be applied to appearance, taste, or aromas.


  • Dumb
    Usually refers to the odor, or lack thereof, in a wine of some future. Consider holding.


  • Earthy
    Smell or flavor reminiscent of soil, mineral aromas, etc. A certain earthiness can be appealing; too much makes the wine seem coarse.


  • Elegance
    Wines that express themselves in a fine or delicate manner, not intense.


  • Fat
    A wine that has a lot of fruit concentration but low acidity is often defined as being “fat”. If the acidity is so low it is displeasing, the wine will be called “flabby” or “insipid”.


  • Fermentation
    The natural process by which sugar in grape juice is transformed into alcohol through the action of yeasts.


  • Finish
    The total impression of a wine after you have swallowed it. A long finish is preferred.


  • Fleshy
    Fatness of fruit; big, ripe.


  • Flinty
    Dry, mineral character that comes from certain soils, mostly limestone, in which the wine was grown; typical of French Chablis and Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre).


  • Fortified wine
    Usually sweet wine, in which the alcoholic fermentation is stopped before all the sugar has been consumed by the addition of brandy. The alcohol kills the yeast, leaving a sweet wine with high alcohol.


  • French Oak
    Oak wood from the forests of France, considered the preferred type of oak for aging most white wines.


  • Fruity
    Aroma and/or flavor of grapes; most common to young, light wines but refers also to such fruit flavors in wine as apple, black currant, cherry, citrus, pear, peach, raspberry, or strawberry; descriptive of wines in which the fruit is dominant.


  • Full
    A description of wines that give the impression of being large or heavy in your mouth.


  • Generous
    A wine whose characteristics are expressive and easy to perceive.


  • Graceful
    Describes a wine that is harmonious and pleasing in a subtle way.


  • Grapy
    Characterized by simple flavors and aromas associated with fresh table grapes; distinct from the more complex fruit flavors (currant, black cherry, fig or apricot) found in fine wines.


  • Hard
    Firm; a quality that usually results from high acidity or tannins. Often a descriptor that is used for young red wines.


  • Harmonious
    Well balanced, with no component obtrusive or lacking.


  • Harsh
    Used to describe astringent wines that are tannic or high in alcohol.


  • Herbal
    Having aromas and flavors that suggest herbs.


  • Intense
    Wines with strong expression.


  • Late Harvest
    Wine was made from grapes picked later than normal and at a higher sugar level than normal. Usually associated with dessert-style wines.


  • Leafy
    Describes a quality reminiscent of leaves. Can be a positive or a negative, depending on whether it adds to or detracts from a wine’s flavor.


  • Lees
    Grape solids and dead yeast which remains in a barrel or tank during and after fermentation.


  • Legs
    The viscous droplets that form and ease down the sides of the glass when the wine is swirled.


  • Length
    A characteristic of fine wines. The amount of time the sensations of taste and aroma persist after swallowing.


  • Lively
    Describes wines that are crisp, fresh and fruity, bright and vital.


  • Luscious
    Rich, opulent, and smooth; most often said of sweet wines but also intensely fruity ones.


  • Long
    A wine that is long usually means it has a long, persistent finish. Some people also use this term to describe the nose of a wine, which then should it be very abundant.


  • Maceration
    During fermentation, the steeping of the skins of red grapes and solids in the wine, where alcohol acts as a solvent to extract color, tannin and aroma from the skins.


  • Maturation
    The aging period at the winery, where a bottle evolves to a state of readiness for bottling.


  • Mature
    Mature is a bottle of wine ready to drink.


  • Meaty
    A wine with chewy, fleshy fruit; sturdy and firm in structure. It may even have the aroma of cooked meat.


  • Medium-dry
    A term to indicate the perceived sweetness of wines that are slightly sweet.


  • Mellow
    Smooth and soft, with no harshness.


  • Meritage
    An invented term used by California wineries for Bordeaux-style red and white blended wines. Combines "merit" with "heritage." The term arose out of the need to name wines that didn't meet minimal labeling requirements for varietals (75% of the named grape variety). For reds, the grapes allowed are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec; for whites, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.


  • Minerally
    Having flavors or aromas suggestive of minerals. It may be described as chalk, iron, etc.


  • Moldy
    Wines with the smell of mold or rot, usually from grapes affected by rot or from old moldy casks used for aging.


  • Musty
    Stale, dusty or rank aromas. The result of a wine being made from moldy grapes, stored in improperly cleaned tanks and barrels, or contaminated by a poor cork.


  • New World
    Collective term for those winemaking countries outside of Europe.


  • Noble
    A great wine. A perfect balance and harmonious expression


  • Nose
    The character of a wine as determined by the sense of smell. Also called aroma; includes bouquet.


  • Nouveau
    A style of light, fruity, youthful red wine bottled and sold as soon as possible.


  • Nutty
    Aromas or flavors that suggest nuts. It can be a "good-nose" or an "off-nose."


  • Oak/Oaky
    This describes the aroma or taste of a wine that is the result of aging in oak barrels. It can be a toastiness, smokiness, dill, or vanilla smell or taste. These are positive descriptors of the wine. A charred smell or taste is undesirable. There are strong preferences for or against these "woody" wines.


  • Off Dry
    A general term used to describe wines that have a slight perception of sweetness.


  • Off
    This can refer to the aroma or flavors. It's a wine that's not quite right.


  • Old World
    A collective term used for European winemaking countries.


  • Old Vines
    Old grape vines. The presumption is that the fruit is of a higher quality because the vines are old and the crop is smaller.


  • Open
    A wine that reveals a full character.


  • Oxidized
    Describes wine that has been exposed too long to air and taken on a brownish color, losing its freshness.


  • Press
    The juice extracted under pressure after pressing for white wines and after fermentation for reds.


  • Primary Aromas
    Fresh aromas in a wine that are derived from the grapes used to make the wine.


  • Private Reserve
    Once upon a time this stood for the best wines a winery produced. It is not a regulated term and you may find so-so wines passed off with the "reserve" label.


  • Red Grapes
    Wine grapes that have a reddish or blue coloring to their skins. White wine can be made from red grapes.


  • Region
    A geographic area larger than a district, but smaller than a country.


  • Residual Sugar
    The sugar remaining in the wine after fermentation.


  • Rich
    A description of full, opulent body, texture, flavor and aroma.


  • Rough
    A description of wines with harsh edges and are bitter.


  • Round
    A description of wines that are not flat. The texture is smooth, without rough edges.


  • Sediment
    A part of the natural aging process of red wines. Sediment is composed of tannins and pigments that precipitate out of solution and is not a flaw in the wine. Decant older wines to separate the wine from its sediment.


  • Semi-Dry/Semi-Fruity
    Sometimes known as "off dry" or "blush" wines, this refers primarily to wines with just a touch of sweetness. Both Reds and Whites often have more of a flowery, fruity aroma, and they have a tendency to be lighter-drinking than a "dry" wine. As the name suggests, these are wines that have a level of residual sugar which gives them a sweeter or "fruity" taste, without being absolutely sweet like a Dessert wine, for example.


  • Sharp
    Excess acid dominates "sharp" wines, disturbing the otherwise balanced flavors.


  • Smoky
    Usually an oak barrel byproduct, a smoky quality can add flavor and aromatic complexity to wines.


  • Soft
    Generally has low acid/tannin content. Also describes wines with low alcohol content. Consequently has little impact on the palate. In some wines it is pleasing, making for an easy or friendly wine.


  • Spicy
    A descriptor for many wines, indicating the presence of spice flavors such as anise, cinnamon, cloves, mint and pepper which are often present in complex wines.


  • Stale
    Wine with lifeless, stagnant qualities. Usually found in wines that were kept in large vessel storage for an excessive length of time.


  • Structure
    The interaction of elements such as acid, tannin, glycerin, alcohol and body as it relates to a wine's texture and feeling in the mouth. Usually proceeded by a modifier, as in "firm structure" or "lacking in structure."


  • Subtle
    Describes delicate wines with finesse, or flavors that are understated rather than full-blown and overt. A positive characteristic.


  • Supple
    Term often used for young reds which should be more aggressive.


  • Tanky
    Similar to "stale." Describes dull, dank qualities that show up in wines aged too long in tanks.


  • Tannin
    A naturally occurring substance in grape skins, seeds and stems that is responsible for the basic "bitter" component in wines. Acts as a natural preservative, helping the development and balance of the wine. It is considered a fault when present in excess.


  • Tart
    Sharp-tasting because of acidity. Occasionally used as a synonym for acidic.


  • Temperature
    Wines generally should be served at one of three temperatures:
    40ºF= sparkling wines and light-bodied whites
    50ºF= medium-bodied whites, most dessert wines (except Port), and a few light-bodied reds.
    65ºF= (Room temperature) red wines and port wines.


  • Tight
    Usually describes a young wine. It describes a wine's structure, concentration and body, as in a "tightly wound" wine. Closed or compact are similar terms.


  • Tinny
    Having a metallic taste.


  • Ullage
    The empty space above the wine in a tank or other container, or the distance between the cork and the wine as the bottle stands upright.


  • Underipe
    Resulting flavor when grapes that failed to reach optimum maturity on the vine are used in the vinification process.


  • Vegetal
    Some wines contain elements in their smell and taste which are reminiscent of plants and vegetables. When the vegetal element takes over, or when it shows up in wines in which it does not belong, those wines are considered flawed.


  • Velvety
    Having rich flavor and a silky, sumptuous texture.


  • Vinous
    While nothing basically wrong with the wine it has no impact on the taster. Implies good "character," but dull experience.


  • Vintage Date
    Indicates the year that a wine was made. In order to carry a vintage date in the United States, for instance, a wine must come from grapes that are at least 95 percent from the stated calendar year.


  • Vintner
    Translates as wine merchant, but generally indicates a wine producer/or winery proprietor.


  • Vitas Vinifera
    The premier grape species used for the world's most admired wines. Also referred to as the "European vine"


  • Volatile
    Powerful, attack aroma. Usually denotes high level of acidity, alcohol and/or other flavor faults.


  • Weighty
    Well-structured/balanced wines with an implication of mildly excessive flavor or "heaviness."


  • Well-Balanced
    Contains all of the essential elements--(i.e., alcohol, flavors, acid or astringency etc)--in good proportion.


  • Woody
    Almost a synonym for oaky, however, this implies an over-long stay in a wooden container which resulted in the absorption of other wood flavors besides "oak."  

Champagne Terms

Top

  • Acidity
    A component of Champagne generally consisting of tartaric acid (a natural acid in grapes) and comprising approximately .5 to .7 percent of the Champagne by volume

  • Aroma
    General term for the smell of a Champagne. More precisely, aroma refers to the youthful scents of a Champagne, as opposed to bouquet, which refers to a Champagne’s developed scents.

  • Astringent
    A descriptor for the mouth-drying effect of some Champagnes

  • Autolyzed flavors
    Aromas and flavors of nuttiness, toastiness, bread, all of which Champagne-lovers enjoy. These flavors are the result of the fermentation lees interacting with the wine.

  • Autolysis
    The breakdown of yeast cells inside the sparkling wine bottle after the second fermentation is completed. This process contributes to the wine's complexity and elegance.

  • Balance
    The interrelationship of a Champagne’s alcohol, residual sugar, and acid. When no one component stands out, a Champagne is said to be well-balanced.

  • Big
    A general descriptor for Champagnes that are very full and intense.

  • Blanc de Blancs
    Wines made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. Literally "white of whites."

  • Blanc de Noirs
    Designates a white or slightly tinted wine made from black grapes, usually Pinot Noir. The tint comes the pigments in the grape skins. Literally "white of blacks."

  • Body
    The perceived weight of a Champagne in the mouth, particularly attributable to a Champagne’s alcohol content.

  • Bottle Aging
    Allowing the sparkling wine to acquire complexity, depth and fine texture in the bottle. Also known as aging "on the yeast," "sur lattes" or "en tirage."

  • Bouquet
    Evolved, mature aromas

  • Brut
    A Champagne style that is very dry, meaning it has little or no residual sugar, usually between 0 - 1.5%.

  • Character
    An attribute of Champagnes that gives the impression of being solid and having substance and integrity

  • Charmat
    (shar-MOTT) Also called "bulk" process. Refers to sparkling wines fermented in large tanks.

  • Concentration
    A characteristic of Champagnes whose flavors or fruit character are tightly-knit as opposed to being dilute or watery.

  • Crisp
    A textural term for Champagnes that are high in acidity. They are usually relatively light in body and go well with food.
     

  • Cuvée
    (coo-VAY) A blend of many still wines into a well-balanced sparkling wine.

  • Cuvee de Prestige
    A winery's most thoughtfully conceived, carefully crafted sparkling wine.

  • Delicate
    A textural term for Champagnes that are subtle, refined and light.

  • Demi-Sec
    A champagne style that is semi- dry, but sweeter that sec, with a residual sugar of between 3.5 - 5.0%. (See Doux)

  • Depth
    A characteristic of fine Champagnes that denotes underground layers of taste rather than being one-dimentional.

  • Disgorging or degorgement
    (day-gorj-MANH) The process by which sediment collected in the sparkling wine bottle's neck during the riddling (see riddling) process is frozen and expelled prior to final corking.

  • Dosage
    The liqueur (sugar dissolved in reserve wine or brandy) added to sparkling wine just before final corking. The dosage finishes the sparkling wine and determines its sweetness level.

  • Doux
    A champagne style that is very sweet, with over 5.0% residual sugar.

  • Elegance
    An attribute of Champagnes that express themselves in a delicate manner

  • Extra-Dry
    A champagne style that is dry, but sweeter that brut, with between 1.2 -2.0% residual sugar. (See Sec)

  • Fermentation
    The action of yeast on natural grape sugars resulting in alcohol and carbon dioxide.

  • Finish
    The final impression a Champagne gives after it has been swallowed.

  • Flora grape
    A hybrid of Semillon and Gewurtztraminer developed at the University of California at Davis.

  • Full
    A descriptor of Champagnes that gives the impression of being large in the mouth.

  • Generous
    A descriptor for Champagnes whose characteristics are expressive and easy to perceive

  • Harmonious
    A descriptor of Champagnes that are not only well balanced but also express themselves in a graceful manner

  • Intense
    A descriptor for Champagnes that express themselves strongly in aroma and flavor.

  • Length A characteristic of Champagne that gives a sustained sensory impression across the tongue.

  • Levels of Sweetness:
    Brut Natural = 0.0 - 0.5% sugar
    Brut = 0.5 - 1.5% sugar
    Extra Dry = 1.2 - 2.0% sugar
    Sec, Dry = 1.7 - 3.5% sugar
    Demi-Sec = 3.3 - 5.0% sugar
    Doux = more than 5% sugar

  • Malolactic Fermentation
    A natural fermentation caused by bacteria which reduces the acid and often causes a buttery aroma.

  • Méthode Champenoise
    The traditional French champagne method for producing sparkling wines.

  • Non-Vintage
    Refers to those sparkling wines whose cuvées contain wine from previous vintages.

  • Prise de mousse
    French term describing the effervescence created in the sparkling wine bottle during the second fermentation. Also called "the birth of the Champagne."

  • Punt
    The dome shaped indentation in the bottom of a wine bottle.

  • Reserve
    A term often used to designate a special wine.

  • Restrained
    A descriptor for Champagnes whose characteristics are not particularly expressive

  • Riddling or remuage
    (reh-moo-AHJZ) The art of turning and tilting bottles of sparkling wine in order to ease sediment into the bottles' necks. See disgorging.

  • Rosé
    (row-ZAY) A champagne whose slightly pink tint often comes from the addition of a small portion of red wine to the cuvée or contact with grape skins.

  • Round
    A descriptor for Champagne that is refers to its makeup of acid, tannin, sweetness and alcohol

  • Sec
    A Champagne style that is dry, but sweeter than Extra-Sec, with between 1.7 - 3.5% residual sugar.

  • Soft
    A descriptor for a Champagne whose alcohol and sugar dominate its acidity

  • Texture
    A Champagne’s consistency or feel in the mouth

  • Tirage
    (teer-RAJZ) The process of bottling the cuvée with the addition of active yeast and sugar in order to induce a second fermentation. Carbonation produced by this second fermentation is trapped in the bottle, producing the effervescence of sparkling wine.

  • Vintage
    The year in which grapes in wine are harvested. Refers to sparkling wines whose cuvees contain wines made from a single year's harvest. (In Champagne, vintage is only declared in a year of exceptional quality)

  • Well-Balanced
    A term that describes Champagnes where acid, alcohol and sugar relate to each other in such a way that none of the three components seems too dominant.


Imported Cordials at a Glance


Top

  • Aalborg Akvavit (SC)
    An invigorating, clean and bracing spirit, Aalborg Akvavit gets its character and aroma from selected Danish herbs, the most predominant, caraway. Great with rich foods or spicier dishes. Caraway and spice make Aalborg the "secret" to great bloody marys.


  • Aalborg Akvavit Jubiaeum Dild (SC)
    Aquavit has a pure, fresh dill flavor with a hint of aniseed and a tasty trace of sweetness for the after-taste. It is best served cold to ensure that the fresh, green taste of dill comes through clean and strong. Goes with cooked fish, marinated fish and sushi.
    After Shock Liqueur (SC)
    Bright, neon cherry-red hue. Pungent hot cinnamon aromas. A thick, syrupy entry leads to a full-bodied palate with marked sweetness offset by a rush of spiciness. Hot, mint-y finish.


  • Alize (SC)
    Characterized by an exotic, spicy flavor, the intensely flavored, aromatic juice used in this cordial is obtained by extracting the seeds from the pulp of passion fruit and pressing them, after which the juice must be strained. The seeds of one passion fruit yield slightly less than a tablespoon of juice; approximately 80 to 100 fruits are required to produce one liter. The flavor of the juice is first suggestive of apricots and peaches, with pronounced citrus notes of orange and lemon.


  • Alize Red Passion (SC)
    Same product as noted above, only it has cranberry instead of passion fruit as its main mix. It is a touch less sweet and berry-fruity as the gold.


  • Amarula Cream Liqueur (SC)
    This is the blend of fresh cream and the fruit of the Marula tree, which only grows in one area on the entire planet, the warm, frost-free regions of subequatorial Africa. Pleasantly sweet, ripe, fruity and cream aromas. Palate entry is delightfully off-dry to sweet but neither cloying nor heavy. Midpalate displays a nicely balanced taste profile. Aftertaste is more creamy than fruity and a touch vanilla-like. A racy addition to the cream liqueur sweepstakes.


  • Arak Razzouk 100 proof (SC)
    An anise-based spirit from Lebanon, made with special varieties of sweet mountain grapes, which are crushed and fermented, and then distilled over a low fire. Natural aniseed is then added and the mixture is distilled. The distilled product is poured into earthenware jars to age and mellow for at least six months. Tracing its roots to the early 18th century, Arak Razzouk has provided refreshment for generations. Today, it is most often served on the rocks with an equal amount of water.


  • Aguradente Cristal
    From Colombia, a 100% Colombian spirit. Cristal is considered the National drink of its native land and has become the largest selling Aguardiente in the US. Industria Licorera de Caldas blends its alcohol with the purest water coming from the Nevado del Ruiz and the best natural anise essence from Europe.


  • Amaretto Di Saronno ,
    Imported Italian liqueur made from apricot stones, which produce an almond flavor. This product has a topaz/orange color and sweet aromas of almonds with lush flavors of roasted almonds, slightly peppery and not too sweet. The finish is of vanilla extract with a touch of mandarin orange.


  • Bailey's Original Irish Cream
    Cream cordial imported from Ireland, which is a blend of real cream and Irish whiskey. The nose has notes of spirit, cream, cinnamon-stick, and spearmint. The product is very creamy, faintly spicy and has the finish of English toffee.


  • Barenjager Liqueur (SC)
    Barenjager is a German honey-flavored liqueur made from honey, vodka and a secret blend of natural ingredients. It was developed in Eastern Prussia, Germany in the late 15 century. The name "Barenjager" translated in German means "bear hunter".


  • Benedictine and Brandy Liqueur
    This French liqueur has a deep amber-orange hue and pungent spice and herb aromas. A smooth, mildly sweet beginning leads to a medium-bodied, mildly viscous palate.


  • Caffe Lolita
    Imported from Mexico, Caffe Lolita is created from only the finest coffees and quality ingredients and presents its own unique, smooth delicious flavor. Caffe Lolita can be mixed in specialty cocktails, served on the rocks, in coffee or as an ingredient in many cooking and baking recipes.


  • Campari Aperitivo
    Aperitif imported from Italy with aromas of fruit pits and botanicals and slightly bitter flavors of fruit. An aromatized wine, which means that it has a red wine base with sweeteners and herbs added. Quinine has also been added and is evident in the bouquet and the finish. Serve with an orange slice to complement the flavor.


  • Carolan's Irish Cream Liqueur
    Cream liqueur imported from Ireland, which is made with honey, real double cream and Irish spirits. Aromas include honey, cream and cocoa. The product has a creamy texture and may be served straight, on the rocks, or in a variety of mixed drinks.


  • Celtic Crossing Liqueur (SC)
    Made from a secret recipe from deep within the heart of Ireland, Celtic Crossing is a combination of Irish spirits and cognac with a hint of honey. Its bouquet is laced with the aromas of honey, vanilla and toasted oak; its palate features the flavors of honey, spice and cognac.


  • Chambord Liqueur Royale

    Black raspberry liqueur from France made with small black raspberries, black cherry, plum, herbs and honey. The ultra-berry finish is soft but firm and can be served straight, on the rocks or mixed with Cognac or Champagne.


  • Chartreuse Green and Yellow (SC)
    An herbal liqueur made by the Carthusian Monks near Grenoble, France, the formula of 130 herbs has been secret for nearly 400 years. Today, only three brothers of that monastery know how to make Chartreuse. Yellow Chartreuse is a pale golden color, extremely sweet, and tastes roughly like plum wine with a touch of honey, or perhaps a delicate version of Benedictine (which is probably related.) Green Chartreuse is fiery; the shade of green actually named for this liquor denotes an intense herbal taste vaguely reminiscent of absinthe. Also like absinthe, it has an extremely high alcohol content.


  • Cointreau Liqueur
    Orange liqueur from France that is similar to orange curacao. Clear in color, the nose is of freshly cut oranges. The flavor is of mildly bitter fresh orange peels with a slight hint of spice and the product has a finish of nothing but orange.


  • Cuarenta Y Tres Licor 43 (SC)
    Licor 43, or Cuarenta Y Tres (Spanish for "43"), is a bright yellow Spanish liqueur made from citrus and fruit juices, flavored with vanilla and other aromatic herbs and spices, in total 43 different ingredients (hence the name).


  • Drambuie
    Liqueur from Scotland made with aged Scotch (over 15 years old) and blended with heather honey and herbs. The original recipe was passed on from Prince Charles Edward (Bonnie Prince Charlie) to the MacKinnon family who still supervise its production today. With amber/golden color and aromas of licorice, black pepper, dill and Scotch whisky the flavors include licorice, herbs and whisky.


  • Emmets Irish Cream
    Imported Irish cream liqueur that combines the flavors of cream with Irish spirits.


  • Frangelico
    Hazelnut Liqueur from Italy that is a mix of hazelnuts, berries, and herbs. Golden amber in color with aromas of nuts, butter, and herbs this product tastes of hazelnut and butter. It can be served neat, on the rocks or in coffee or hot cocoa and is also used in many recipes.


  • Galliano Liqueur (SC)
    A sweet, yellow Italian herbal liqueur flavored with various herbs, flowers and spices including star anise, licorice and vanilla, giving it a unique taste. Named after Maggiore Galliano, hero of the East African wars at the end of the 19th century. 70 proof.


  • Giori Amaretto
    Walnut in color with a rich almond aroma that is first up to the nose, followed by a very subtle dried-cherry note. The body is medium and quite buttery. There is a faint hint of orange zest at the finish.


  • Giori Grappa di Moscato
    Grappa di Moscato is a well-aged, concentrated brandy with a powerful aroma, with light, spicy tones of blood oranges and herbs. The taste is very masculine, with hints of orange and chocolate and an intensely developed finish.


  • Giori Grappa la Novella
    Grappa la Novella is made using the "discontinuous" method of distillation. The method involves small batches of pomace exposed to heat in copper stills, which are cleaned upon completion of distillation. The resulting grappas are more aromatic and intense than grappas made using the continuous method of distillation.Possessing a refined finish, Grappa la Novella smells of hints of fruit, while the taste is mature and fresh.


  • Giori Lemoncillo
    On the day of harvest, lemons are lightly washed and immediately peeled. The peels are then infused in alcohol derived from molasses. The final preparation takes place in mixers where the infused lemon is combined with syrup made from sucrose. The color is an opalescent yellow and has a nose of fresh lemon zest with a mildly sugary backdrop. The body is medium and the palate shows a good balance between the zest and the sugar. The finish is quite warm.


  • Giori Lemoncillo Cream
    On the day of harvest, the lemons are lightly washed and immediately peeled. The peels are then infused in alcohol derived from molasses. The final preparation takes place in mixers where the infused lemon is combined with syrup made from sucrose. The mixture of lemon liqueur is then combined with liquid cream, which is then emulsified. This product has a rich, creamy body that follows suit with the lemon zest barely peeking through, but it's there all the same and provides a tart flavor that almost suggests lemon curd.


  • Giori Sambuca
    The body is rich and syrupy and the palate shows a powerful amount of aniseed. The finish is spicy and lasts a good long time.


  • Godiva Chocolate Liqueur (SC)
    Godiva Chocolate liqueur has a deep mahogany hue with subdued caramel and milk chocolate aromas and bright chocolate flavors.


  • Goldschlager
    Clear cinnamon schnapps from Switzerland with flecks of gold leaf floating in the bottle. This product has a tangy cinnamon aroma and sweet-sour cinnamon flavors.


  • Grand Marnier
    A warm amber liqueur from France made with cognac, essence of wild oranges and delicate syrup. The mixture is aged in oak casks prior to bottling with a formula created in 1880 and still followed today. The product may be served straight up, in a snifter, on the rocks or as an ingredient in a Margarita.


  • Hpnotiq
    A uniquely different and sophisticated blend, HPNOTIQ combines the most exceptional characteristics of pure cognac premium vodka and natural tropical fruit juices to create a level of quality and taste that is refined and elegant.


  • Inca Pisco (SC)
    From Peru, many a Peruvian meal is not complete without a pisco sour, which is a cocktail made with a shot of pisco, a sprinkle of sugar, a bit of egg white and a splash of lime juice, then either blended or served over crushed ice, with a dash of bitters. 90 proof.


  • Irish Mist Liqueur
    Liqueur from Ireland that is based on a recipe that originated over 1,000 years ago, Irish Mist is a blend of heather and clover honey, herbs and Irish whiskey. With a tawny/orange color, herbal nose of honey, parsley, and fresh earth this product has flavors of herbs, honey and mellow whiskey. Irish Mist offers a well-balanced combination of sweetness, acidity, viscosity and bite.


  • Jagermeister
    Liqueur from Germany that is made with 56 herbs, spices and roots for a unique, complex flavor. Cola colored (some caramel has been added for color) with an intensely herbal, citrus nose and cola, citrus, and herb flavors with a chocolaty aftertaste.


  • Jinro Soju (SC)
    Originally distilled from sake, this is a combination of sweet potatoes, rice, barley, and other grains. Soju tastes like vodka or gin, but it's easier to drink because of the lower alcohol content. The traditional (and still the most popular) way to drink soju is in cold straight shots although Jinro's clean taste lends itself to cocktails and infused drinks.


  • Kahlua Coffee Liqueur,
    Rich brown color with aromas of coffee beans. The flavors of coffee and semisweet chocolate are completed with a rich and chocolate-y finish.


  • Kahlua Especial
    Kahlua Especial raises the sophisticated coffee lover's passion to a whole new level. Complex, mountain grown, small batch roasted cafe liqueur.


  • Kamora Coffee Liqueur
    Coffee flavored liqueur from Mexico that is made with fresh brewed coffee using Arabica beans. Kamora is slightly less sweet than other coffee liqueurs and can be served in a Black Russian, a White Russian, or in coffee.


  • Midori Melon
    Imported honeydew melon flavored liqueur with a vibrant green color and light, fresh melon taste. Good mixed with fruit juice and mixers.


  • Pernod (SC)
    A pastis with licorice flavor that clouds up with the addition of water. Pernod is actually a successor of absinthe, the potent liquor that contained a toxic oil from wormwood in quantities that were thought to cause brain damage, and which was outlawed in 1915 in France. One of absinthe's leading manufacturers, Henri Pernod, then focused its efforts on the lower-alcohol, anise-flavored Pernod, which contains no wormwood.


  • Pimms Cup (SC)
    First mixed as a digestive tonic in 1840 this concoction, made with numerous herbs and quinine, carries an orange-brown hue and offers sweet orange peel aromas. Sweet on the palate, but not cloying. Tangy, subtle herbal bitters with brown spice develop on the finish. Pimm's is a gin-based drink, infused with aromatics and mixed with lemonade for consumption. Adding champagne as opposed to lemonade, makes a true Pimm's No1 Cup.


  • Pirassununga 51 Cachaca
    Widely perceived as a Brazilian rum, it is more accurately described as sugar-cane spirit. Perfect for making the classic cachaça-based cocktail, Caipirinha, where you crush or 'muddle' small chunks of lime (skins still on) with granulated sugar so that you release the aromatic oils in the zest.


  • Ricard Anise 90 (SC)
    An aniseed-flavored aperitif. The original secret recipe, which is composed of a blend of natural ingredients, has remained unaltered since its creation by Paul Ricard in 1932. The principal ingredient is star anise, a rare spice that grows near the southern Chinese border and in the north of Vietnam. Other ingredients include licorice from Syria and aromatic herbs from Provence. It is traditionally served with 5 parts water and 1 part Ricard, making it "The French Milk" due to its cloudy, white appearance when water is introduced.


  • Romana Sambuca
    Licorice flavored liqueur from Italy that offers a multi-layered nose of aniseed, apricots, herbs, and a trace of citrus. The texture is silky and the finish is flavors of orange and cherry.


  • Rumple Minze
    Peppermint schnapps imported from Germany. The nose is sweet, herbal, and peppermint-y with little hint of the high (100o) proof. This product has a silky texture, an intense peppermint flavor that is not too sweet and an extended mint-y finish.


  • Sabra Orange Chocolate Liqueur (SC)
    A chocolate-orange liqueur is a product of Israel and good as a mixer, as an after meal liquor or even an ingredient in brownies.


  • St. Brendan's Irish Cream
    A blend of triple-distilled, aged Irish Whiskey and pure fresh dairy cream that comes from Ireland. This product has a creamy aroma with a hint of herbs, a rich creamy texture with flavors of milk chocolate, Irish whiskey, and sweet cream and a soft finish.


  • Sylk Cream (SC)
    A sophisticated cream liqueur, this product is cream and heather honey blended with aged malt whiskies to create a smooth, yet complex cream liqueur. Best served on ice.


  • Strega Liqueur
    Strega has been produced in Benevento, Italy since 1860. Strega means witch's love potion and is a delicate liqueur with digestive qualities. It is made up of a number of herbs such as mint, fennel, and saffron (the world's most expensive spice) which gives it a bright yellow color. Only two people left in the world have this secret recipe. 80 proof


  • Stock Grangala Liqueur
    Triple orange liqueur imported from Italy that is a blend of Italian brandy and orange flavors. This product can be served straight, on-the-rocks, in margaritas or in food recipes.


  • Tia Maria Coffee Liqueur
    Coffee liqueur from Jamaica that is made from the rarest coffee beans in the world -- Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. This product can be served straight up, on the rocks or in coffee.


  • Tuaca Liqueur
    From Italy, Tuaca is a genial, viscous, brown liqueur that tastes of orange, hazelnut, and vanilla. Sip it on ice or mix it with cola or even milk.


  • Yukon Jack
    Canadian liqueur with a white-wine-like appearance and aromas of mandarin orange, this product has a rich, satiny texture with flavors of orange and spirit and a long, silky finish of citrus.

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Department of Liquor Control • 201 Edison Park Drive • Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Telephone 240-777-1900 • FAX 240-777-1962 • E-mail
dlc@montgomerycountymd.gov