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Common Italian Wine Words and their Pronunciations Common Italian Wine Words and their Pronunciations
Common Italian Wine Words and their Pronunciations

So much of the world’s best wine is fueled and crafted by the romantic language of Italy. Italian words pop up in menus all over the United States, whether they are used to describe wine notes, brewing styles, or a winery altogether.

Italian language is fun, and robust, but talking about the language as a whole is tricky. Different parts of Italy contain specific dialects that fluctuate immensely, and sometimes, it’s hard to recognize if the person is speaking Italian language at all. Italian language is vowel-heavy, so many different pronunciations are possible. Choosing a   region of Italy is a great way to begin pronouncing the language.  

Check out the following guide to Italian wine words and their meanings, and nail your next pronunciation opportunity at a local or foreign winery.

Simple Italian Pronunciation

Here are a couple pronunciation notes to get you going:

  • Every time you see a double consonant, (cc, bb, zz, ff) make sure to linger on that part of a word just a tad longer than you usually would. This pronunciation rule is what makes the language bouncy. Ex: La Pizza à La Pizz-a; Frizzanteà Frizz-ante.
  • Letters with accents get an extra emphasis. Ex: La Pápa à la PApa
  • Every time you see the letter C next to the letter I or E, pronounce it as you would an English c-h. Ex: Valpolicellaà Valpolichella; La cittáà La Cheetá.
  • The combination of Italian G+I is pronounced like an English letter J.

Ex: Giuseppeà Joo-sepp-e.

  • English does not use -gli for any words. This is a sound that is pronounced from the back of your throat, and fluctuates greatly throughout northern and southern Italian dialect. The pronunciation is best looked up online, and can be found in the following words: bottiglia (bottle), andvaniglia (vanilla).
  • Always roll your R’s, and if you are unable to, just do your best and have fun!

Sample Italian Wine Terms

  • Amaro- Bitter
  • Ampio- Ample, balanced
  • Aromatico-Aromatic
  • Bianco- White
  • Bottiglia- Bottle
  • Canella: Cinnamon
  • Cantina: Cellar
  • Cavatappi: Corkscrew
  • Corpo: Body
  • Coppa: Wine/Goblet
  • Cibo: Food
  • Dorato: Golden
  • Herbaceo: Herbaceous
  • Etichetta: Label
  • Fattoria: Farm
  • Fiori: Flowers
  • Floreale: Floral
  • Fragrante: Fragrant
  • Fresco: Fresh
  • Frutta: Fruit
  • Frizzante: Fizzed/Sparkling
  • Fresca-Fresca: very fresh
  • Giallo: Yellow
  • Gusto: Flavor/taste
  • Intenso: Intense
  • Leggero: Light
  • Maderizzato: Oxidized
  • Minerali: Minerals
  • Odore: color, smell
  • Ossidazione: Oxidization
  • Pieno: Full-bodied/ Rich
  • Prezzo: Price
  • Salute: health

Pronunciation alone is a fun way to engage with new languages, and discover a side of your personality that you haven’t exercised before. America is one of the only few monolingual countries in the world, which can rob a monolingual population of different cultural understandings. Consult for reliable translations of world languages.  Google Translate can bear some significantly incorrect results!

Countries other than America exist, and their languages are each uniquely awesome! A simple, universal way to connect with someone, whether you are uttering a single word or broken phrase, is through shared language and food. Wine and language are a great paring for a successful exchange. Strike up a conversation with what you are confident in, or just become a better reader of Italian wine menus. Arrivederci, e spero che faccia connessioni nuovi!


Mariel McSherry

Mariel McSherry

"Mariel is a University of Arizona graduate who received her bachelors degree in Creative Writing and Journalism. She has her certificate in Professional and Technical Writing, Teaching English as Foreign Language, and is a certified level-1 writing tutor. She is currently a freelance technical writer for Trenchless:registered: Marketing, and freelances through Mariel is a coffee-powered, investigative, and energetic writer. Whether the document is technical or creative, the quality, integrity, and functionality of the document remains as a core element of importance in her writing. Mariel enjoys outdoor adventures, yoga, and spending time with friends. She will receive her Wilderness First Responder certification at the end of January, 2019. "

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