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Wine Tasting Terms

Wine Varietal Glossary

California Wine Regions

WINE WORDS TO REMEMBER: Thief, Bung and Cooperage

On your next visit to wine country, why not ask for a chance to taste wine straight from the barrel?  Though the tasting will be unlike anything you experience from a bottle, it will be fun and memorable.

Here are three words to know and help you sound like a pro:

Bung: That is the little stopper that sits on the barrel's side that allows you to add wine or siphon off wine as needed.

Thief: This is a tube made of glass or plastic that you can use to extract a sample of wine from the barrel.

Cooperage: The barrels or casks that hold the wine. It can also mean the place where those barrels were made, or, the storage capacity of a winery. 

Shall we remove the bung and use a thief to empty the cooperage?

“A hands-on tasting experience in a winery’s Barrel Room is the perfect way to get up-close and personal with the winemaker.  Tasting wine from a barrel also gives you some understanding, and appreciation, for the transformation it will go through before making it to the bottle!” ~ Bruce and Pam Boring, proprietors, The California Wine Club


Though wine drinkers now outnumber beer drinkers for the first time in U.S. history, winemakers take heed: our appreciation for wine lags far behind other countries.

1934: the year after Prohibition, just 0.26 gallons of wine were consumed per American.

1946: Consumption jumped to 1.00 gallons – but dropped back to 0.67 gallons the next year!

1967: Twenty-one years later, it reached 1 gallon again —1.03 gallons of wine per American. Maybe thank the hippies for that.

1980: We topped the 2 gallon mark at 2.11. During the decade, Americans went wild with 2.43 gallons of wine per year, but by 1989, dropped back down to the starting point, 2.11!

1990-1999: In 1990, we were each drinking 2.05 gallons, but kept drinking less through most of the decade. 1999 saw us drop to 2.02 gals.

2000-2004: The new century saw a steady uptick in wine consumption—in 2005, at 2.37 gallons. Still not as high as 1985, 1986, or 1987—but chugging along.

2005: We break the 3 gallon barrier weighing in at 3.09 gallons. Maybe thank the “Millennials” for that, those 20-29-year-olds who have embraced wine enthusiastically.

Our Yearly Consumption vs. Other Countries (per person, per capita)

  • U.S.                    3.09 gallons
  • Italy:                  16 gallons
  • France:               14 gallons
  • Australia:             5+ gallons

"As wine consumption increases, so do wine choices. Facing the wall of wine at the local store is daunting for even the most seasoned of wine buyers! A wine club is just a fun and convenient way to experience quality wines." ~ Bruce & Pam Boring, The California Wine Club