Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

French word that describes an important aspect of winemaking but has no direct equivalent in English (other than the Anglicization ‘elevage’). Élevage means literally ‘rearing’, ‘breeding’, or ‘raising’ and is commonly applied to livestock, or humans as in bien élevé for ‘well brought up’. When applied to wines, it means the series of cellar operations that take place between fermentation and bottling, suggesting that the winemaker’s role is rather like that of a loving parent who guides, disciplines, and civilizes the raw young wine that emerges from the fermentation vessel. The word élevage implies that all this effort is worth it, and is therefore normally applied only above a certain level of wine quality.