All. About. Wine.
Acids– Members of a group of chemical compounds that create the sharp or sour taste in a wine. A wine’s concentration of acids is called acidity. Acids are not only important for the taste of a wine, but because they prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and spoilage yeasts. Two of the most important acids and tartaric acid and malic acid.
Acidity– A general term for the fresh, tart or sour taste produced by natural organic acids present in wine. Acidity is typically sensed on the sides of the tongue as a puckering/mouth-watering sensation.
Anthocyanins– A complex group of natural phenolic Glycosides responsible for the black and red color of grapes. Also responsible for the color in red wines as wine components and a precursor to pigmented tannins.
Aroma- The odor of a wine imparted by the grapes from which it was made, as well as the fermentation process.
Balance– A wine is said to be balanced, or well-balanced, if its alcoholic strength, acidity, residual sugar, tannins, and fruit, complement each other so that no single one of them is obstrusive on the palate.
Battonage– French winemaking term for the action of lees stirring.
Bitterness– One of the primary taste sensations that is particularly acrid.
Body– A tasting term for the perceived weight- the sensation of fullness, resulting from density or viscosity- of a wine on the palate. Wines at either end of the scale are described as full bodied or light bodied.
Brix– A scale measuring the total dissolved compounds in grape juice, and therefore its approximate concentration of grape sugars. One degree Brix corresponds approximately to 10g/l sugar.
Chaptalization– A winemaking practice whereby the final alcoholic strength of the wine is increased by the addition of sugar to the must before/during the fermentation process.
Corked– A tasting term for a wine spoiled by cork taint. This is one of the most serious wine faults because it irrevocably imbues the wine with such a powerfully off-putting smell that the wine can no longer be consumed with any enjoyment.
Cru– French specialist term for a vineyard, usually reserved for those officially recognized as of superior quality.
Diacetyl– A product of malolactic fermentation that produces a buttery aroma.
Disgorgement– The stage of the traditional method of sparkling wine where the frozen sediment from secondary fermentation is removed from the bottle.
Dosage– The final addition to a sparkling wine (usually a mixture of wine and sugar syrup) that determines the sweetness, or residual sugar, of the finished wine.
Élevage– A French word that literally means ‘rearing’ , ‘breeding’ or ‘raising’. WHen applied to wine, it means the period of time between fermentation and bottling, where the winemaker is ‘raising’ or guiding the wine until it’s completion.
Enology– The American, and South African spelling of oenology, which is the study of wine and winmaking
Ethanol– The common name for ethyl alcohol, the alcohol most common in wine and other alcoholic drinks.
Fermentation– As it applies to wine, it is the conversion of sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide by the anaerobic metabolism of yeast.
Filtration– A stage of the winemaking process in which the winemaker is seeking to achieve clarification of the wine by filtering out solids and particulates in order to achieve a clear wine. This is not necessarily a required step and is considered controversial.
Fortification– The practice of adding spirits, generally grape spirits, to a wine in order to halt fermentation, ensure stability and adding alcoholic strength to the wine.
Grafting– The connection of two pieces of living plant tissue so that they unite and grow as one plant. This is particularly important for grape vines since grafting onto resistant rootstock is the only effective weapon against phylloxera.
Grand Cru– Literally means “great growth” in French. In Burgundy, vineyards that are considered a step-above premier cru.
Harvest– The transition period in the winemaking cycle from vineyard to cellar (also known as ‘vintage’ or ‘crush’). This mainly includes the process of picking ripe grapes to be processed in the cellar.
Hectare– A common agricultural unit of measurement equal to 2.47 acres (or 10000 sq ft.)
Isinglass– A protein obtained from the bladders of sturgeon that has been used for fining (clarifying) wine for centuries.
Joven– Spanish for ‘young’. Wines made in this style are meant for early consumption.
Late Harvest– General term for grapes that have been allowed to hang longer than normal for dry wines in order to make sweet wines. At this point, the berries are much richer in sugar.
- Robinson, Janicis, “The Oxford Companion to Wine, 4th Edition”, Oxford University Press, 2015.