the natural tartness of grapes, giving a refreshing quality
and preventing blandness.
It is one of the main components
in the structure of wine. The most common acids are tartaric,
malic, lactic and citric.
ALCOHOL LEVEL is the amount of alcohol
by volume. Wine generally ranges from 7 to 14% , with an
average of 11 to 12%; fortified
wines may reach 21%. By contrast, beer averages between 4 and
5%, and spirits generally start at 40%.
a geographical designation of origin. The system used in the
States defines AVAs (or American Viticultural Areas).
Acronyms for systems used elsewhere include AC and AOC (France);
DOC and DOCG (Italy); DO and DOC (Spain); DO and IPR (Portugal).
AROMA is the combination of primary scents that evolves into
bouquet as wine ages.
ASTRINGENCY is mainly associated with red wines, due to levels
of tanin; it is experienced on the palate as a rough, drying
BALANCE is the harmonious interplay of components in a wine.
For example, acidity balances sweetness; fruit balances oak;
alcohol balances flavor.
BARREL AGING refers to keeping wine in a wooden barrel after
fermentation and before bottling. Wood is porous and allows
the wine to mature in controlled interaction with its environment;
the wood may also provide flavor.
BARREL-FERMENTING means wines that are fermented in wooden
(typically oak) barrels rather tha stainless steel tanks or
BARRIQUE is a small (59 gallon) barrel for aging wine.
BLANC DE BLANCS is white wine made from white grapes.
BLANC DE NOIRS is whie wine made from red grapes.
BODY is the tactile impression of weight or fullness of wine
on the palate.
grapes to rot, sometimes to delicious effect. The fungus botrytis
cinerea attacks ripe grapes, particularly
in humid vineyards, causing them to shrivel and become concentrated
and sweet. The juice of grapes affected with this "noble
is used to make some of the world's great sweet wines, including
BOUQUET is the complex of fragrences that develops in a wine
as it matures.
CARBONIC MACERATION is
the fermentation of whole rather than crused grapes, resulting
in light, fruity wines.
CAVA is the
Catalàn word for cellar, and refers to sparkling
wines made in Spain.
CÉPAGE is French for vine variety.
CLIMATE is a critical influence on the production of wine
grapes. Climate includes the level of heat, sunshine, rainfall
and wind. Each grape variety has specific conditions of climate
which suit it best.
to a wine that has been tainted by a chemical compound in its
cork, generally smelling of mold and must. Increasingly
troubled by the problem of spoiled wine, the wine industry
all over the world has been experimenting with alternative
forms of bottle closures including synthetic corks and screwtops.
CRÉMANT is a term used to describe French sparkling wines
made outside of the Champagne region, but employing the methode
Champenoise in their production. Crémants are produced
throughout France, most notabley in Alsace and the Loire.
CRU is the French
term for rank or level, (often translated as "growth"),
used to define a hierarchy of vineyards withn appelations.
In most Bordeaux classifications, premier cru
classé is the top rank. In Burgundy, peremier cru vineyards
are one level below grand cru.
CUVÉE is a blend of wines.
gently pouring wine from the bottle into another container
aeration and permit removal of sediment.
DRY describes a lack of perceptible sweetness. In dry wines,
all or most of the sugar is fermented into alcohol. Brut is
a French term for dry Champagne; extra-dry sparkling wines
are actually sweeter than brut; demi-sec refers to a medium-sweet
to sweet wine. Trocken is the German word for dry; halbtrocken
is half-dry. Secco is Italian for dry, abboccato for slightly
FAT describes a full-bodied wine, where the level of acidity
is lower than the perceptible sweetness or alcohol.
FERMENTATION is the process during which yeast transforms
the sugar of grape juice (or mash of grains) into alcohol.
FILTERING is often used to remove yeast cells and other particles
from wine after fermentation or prior to bottling.
FINNING is the
removal of suspended particles, which cloud a wine, by introducing
an agent - varying from powdered clay
to egg whites - which binds to the suspended elements, making
them heavy enough to fall to the bottom of the storage vessel.
FINISH is the
wine's tactile and flavor impression left in the mouth after
swallowing. In the finest wines, the finish
should be long and lingering.
the addition of spirits to wine; to raise the level of alcohol,
or to stop fermentation and therby maintain
the natural sweetness of the grapes.
a by-product of fermentation most noticeable in higher alcohol
and late-harvest wines, giving a smooth tactile
KABINETT, SPÄTLESE & AUSLESE are
German terms which signify, in ascending order, sugar levels
at harvest, not the sweetness
of the finished wine.
LATE-HARVEST refers to sweet wines made from extra-ripe grapes.
LENGTH describes wine with a prologned flavor and feel in
LEES are the
sediments - dead yeast cells, grape pulp, seeds and pigment
- that drop to the bottom of a vessel during and
after a wine's fermentation. Sur lie is a French phrase
with refers to extended contact of wine with the lees, which
additional flavor (described in wine jargon as leesy).
MACERATION is the steeping of graped skins and seeds within
the must to extract phenolics.
MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION is a secondary fermentation allowed
to occur in some white wines and the majority of reds. This
process is used to convert sharp malic acid into softer lactic
acid. It contributes complexity and softness to most reds;
in whites it imparts a buttery quality.
MERITAGE is a term for white or red wines from a California
winery that incorporate a blend of varieties traditionally
used in Bordeaux, France.
MÉTHODE CHAMPENOISE is
French for "Champagne method," referring
to the production of sparkling wines both in Champagne and
elsewhere. The key step in the méthode Champenoise is
the inducement of a secondary fermentation inside the bottle,
by adding a
small amount of yeast and sugar to a base wine and re-corking
the bottle, trapping carbon dioxide from the second fermentation
to give the wine bubbles.
MUST is crushed grapes ready to be
fermented, or in the process of fermenting.
NÉGOCIANT is the French word
NOSE refers to the aroma of a wine, or to the act of smelling
OXIDIZED describes wines that have spoiled or become brown
due to oxygen.
PHENOLICS are chemical compounds found in wines; they include
tannins, color pigments and flavor compounds.
RESERVA in Spain and Riserva in Italy are legally defined
terms describing the aging requirements of wines in particular
regions. In most other countries, "reserve" designations do
not have legal definitions; they may refer to a selection or
lot, or simply be part of a brand name.
RESIDUAL SUGAR refers to a percentage of natural sugars left
in a finished wine. It is usaually expressed as a percentage
of grams of sugars per liter of finished wine. A higher percentageof
RS generally implies a sweeter-tasting wine.
to the interaction of components which contribute to a wine's
tactile sensation, icluding acidity, glycerin,
alcohol and tannin.
a derivative of the element sulfur, widely used in winemaking,
though most wineries keep thier applications
to a minimum. Sulfur may be sprayed in the vineyard as a preventative
agaisnt diseases, pests, and mildew. Sulfites may be used in
the winery to clean and sterilize equipment, to kill off bacteria
that could harm the wine, to prevent browining in the juice,
to inhibit native yeasts on the grapes, or to guard against
spoilage at bottling. Sulfites are also a natural by-product
of fermentation, and most wines contain very low levels of
added sulfites. By law, any wine with sulfites higher than
10 ppm must state "contains sulfites" on the label.
phenolic compounds derived primarily from grape seeds and skins,
as well as the wooden casks in which wines
are aged. Depending on the ripeness and quality of the grapes
from which they are extracted, tannins can provide either a
smooth texture or an astringency to the wine. Tannins impede
oxidation and are a primary component in a wine's structure.
As a wine ages, tannin becomes less noticeable as tannin molecules
combine into large polyphnols and drop out as sediment at the
bottom of the bottle.
TERROIR describes the enironment of a particular vineyard,
including elements of soil, climate and aspect. The French
term gout de terroir refers to the characteristic expression
of a specific vineyard in a wine.
VARIETAL CHARACTER refers to the combination of aromas and
tactile impressions typically offered by a particular grape
VINTAGE is the year in which the grapes were picked, and also
refers to the picking process.
VITIS VINIFERA is the genus and species of grapevine responsible
for producing grapes that make the world's best wines - cabernet
sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling, sauvignon blanc,
YEASTS are one-celled organisms that, in winemaking, convert
sugars into alcohol.
YIELD is the quantity of grapes or wine produced in a given
area - often stated as tons/acre or hectoliters/hectare (hl/ha).