American Czechoslovak Landmarks Trust Society

Welcome To Our Information On Slavonic Wines

The Slavonic Wine Cellar

moravsko-česká vinařská

In Vino Veritas                                              ve víně je Pravda                                        in wine comes truth

The Language of Wine


The early Anglo-Saxons called grapes wineberries. This was just a short hop from the German Weinbeeren. Travelling further north to our Scandinavian friends we find the Swedish term vindruva, which seems to be Nordic (Vin) added to the older Latin for grape: uva.
Among the Slavonic countries we find in Slovenia the grape is called “grozdje”, and Serbian: “grožđe”. This is the same in Russian: гроздь, while the Czechs, as is often the case, replace the letter g of their Slavonic brethren, with the letter h, and we have: hrozen.
Now, if the English-speakers think that looks silly to your English trained eyes, consider what the French and the English have done!
Believe it or not, the French word for grape is “raisin”! But, of course, as often happens, the French have a more elegant way to say it: something like “razeen”. What we English speakers call raisins are called “razeen sec” in French (raisin sec).
We all know what a grappling hook is, but how many know that it comes from the little hook the French used to gather bunches of grapes off the vine (the “grappe”)? And so, the Middle French term “grappe de raisin” meant a bunch of grapes. It was from this French term that the English began to understand that a bunch of grapes was a “grappe”, but English logic required the addition of an s to make it plural, and “viola!” we have the modern English word “grapes” Really! Believe me! That is how it happened.
So, if English can come to “grapes” from French “grappe” plus an s, then why shouldn’t hrozen, or grozdje be just as reasonable?

Let’s explore further. Our modern term vineyard comes from old Middle English vingaerd, to winegeard. This is the Slovenian vinograd and the French vignoble. And we have only begun!

Sweetness, Acidity, Tannen structure - what’s going on?
Living yeast eats the sugar in wine juice, producing carbon dioxide and
alcohol as by products. Winemakers have learned ways to stop fermentation before all the sugar is gone, leaving a sweeter wine. Some winemakers are even reputed to add a touch of “reserve” back into their new wine to create a very comely wine. The European Union allows a non-sparkling wine to be called a “dry” wine if there is less than 4 grams of residual sugar per litre, medium dry up to 12 grams. This is the French “demi-sec”, German “halb trocken” , Italien “abbocato”, and in Czech: Semi-suché and in Slovak:  Polosuchého šumivého vína

The EU regulations do not require labeling of sweetness on still wines. Sparkling wines do require a sweetness label.
Sparkling wines have different characteristics that offset sweetness that are not found in still wines.   The sweetest sparkling wines are referred to as “dolce” in Italian, “doux” in French, “mild” in German  and “sweet” in English. In Czech it is "sladké".

Term Comparison

English                     Czech                            French                           German                 Italian          

glass of wine          Sklenka vína                verre de vin                   Glas Wein             vetro di vino

winery                      Vinařství                     établissement vinicole                                cantina

dry                            suché víno                       sec                               trocken                 secco

medium dry            středně suché víno         brut                              herb                      bruto
extra dry                  extra suché víno            vin extra sec                extra trocken      vino extra secco
sweet                       sladké víno                      doux                             mild                      dolce                

The Czechoslovak system of measuring "must" comes from the Czechoslovak Normalised Must Weight Scale. Czech wine law classifies wine according to the origin of the grapes and the ripeness of the grapes, determined by measuring the must weight in the grape juice at the time of harvest.

Czech wine is typically labeled with its variety, detailed description of its origin, and wine quality attributes.Sugar content is expressed in units of °NM on the Czechoslovak Normalised Must-Weight Scale "Normalizovaný moštoměr", which indicates how many kilograms of sugar are contained in one hundred litres of grape juice. One degree on the NM scale is equivalent to one kilogram of natural sugar in 100 litres of grape must.In general, wine produced from grapes with a higher must-weight level and from a single vineyard is considered higher quality.

Click here to return to

Cultural Entertainment