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Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G

A

Acetic - A term with a negative connotation in wine referring to a sharp vinegary taste and smell. This occurs as a result of the presence of acetobacter, a bacteria that naturally converts wine to vinegar in the presence of oxygen.

Acetic Acid - The chief volatile acid in wine. The flavor of wine is improved by small amounts but vinegary flavors are the result of larger quantities.

Acidification - A process practiced in warm areas whereby a winemaker adds acid to grape must before fermentation to counteract naturally low acid levels.

Albariza - A white-surfaced chalky-looking soil found in the Sherry-producing region in southern Spain. Contains large amounts of limestone mixed with clay and sand.

Alcohol - A colorless, volatile, flammable liquid that is the intoxicating constituent of wine, beer, spirits, and other drinks. Alcohol is also used as an industrial solvent and as fuel.

Amarone - The most famous dried grape wine in Italy that is produced from the same grape varieties and in the same zones as Valpolicella. High quality grape bunches are dried, or raisined, often allowing Botrytis to form on the grapes. The grapes are then pressed and fermented to dryness, resulting in an intense, highly alcoholic wine with somewhat oxidative qualities that vary depending on the presence of noble rot.

Amelioration - A term literally meaning improvement, it is a euphemism for chemical intervention in winemaking. This refers to techniques used in areas where nature is deficient. This includes chaptalization, the addition of sugar for the purpose of raising the alcohol level, and acidification.

American Viticultural Area (AVA) - The American Viticultural Area is the American controlled appellation system. Defined as a specified grape-growing region, distinguished by geographical features, the boundaries of which have been recognized and defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). For example, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Santa Ynez Valley are all AVAs.

Anbaugebiet - The term for appellation or wine region in Germany. Each anbaugebiet is divided into Bereiche, or districts. Bereiche are then broken up into Grosslagen.

Appellation - An official geographically-based designation for a wine.

Appellation d.Origine Contrôlée (AOC) - The French appellation system that controls and designates wines, spirits, cheeses, and other foods of distinct geographic regions in France.

Aroma - A broad term describing the smell of a wine, or the smell that is derived from grapes.

Aromatized Wine - A wine that has been flavored by one or more aromatic substances such as anise, strawberries, orange peel, elderflowers, wormwood, quinine, and pine resin. These wines are usually fortified. Vermouth, Retsina, and Lillet are examples.

Assemblage - The blending of base wines to create a final cuveé, or blend. This is a crucial part of the Champagne vinification process.

Astringency - A sensation of puckering or drying of the mouth.s tissues. Puckering is a tactile response to compounds such as tannins.

Auslese - A classification in the German QmP system that means "selected," these wines are sweeter than Spatlese.

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B

Balance - A reference to the harmonious relationship between the acids, alcohol, tannins and other compounds in wine.

Barrique - French word for barrel. Used worldwide to describe any small oak cask.

BeerenausleseThe fourth designation of the German QmP system, wines of this level are made from grapes of later harvest that have undergone some noble rot. They tend to be rich and sweet.

Bentonite - A type of clay that is used in the process of fining. Clay is mixed into wine to clarify it. As it settles to the bottom, the clay absorbs and carries with it suspended particles.

Bio-Dynamic - A way of farming without the use of chemical or synthetic sprays or fertilizers, vinified with natural yeast, and minimal use of filtration, sulphur, and chaptalization. Bio-dynamic grape growers also base their planting and harvesting schedule by astrological events and cycles. "Feng shui meets organic farming." (Drew Niles)

Blanc de Blancs - A term literally meaning, "white of whites," meaning that the wine is made from white grapes. For example, in Champagne, Chardonnay grapes are used.

Blanc de Noirs - "White of blacks," describing a white wine made from black grapes, usually sparkling and often with a pinkish tint.

Body - The impression of weight or fullness on the palate; usually the result of a combination of glycerin, alcohol and sugar. Commonly expressed as full-bodied, medium-bodied, medium-weight, or light-bodied.

Botrytis (cinerea) - A beneficial form of Botrytis bunch rot. It is a fungus commonly referred to as "noble rot" that is unique in that it produces flavors that harmonize with the grape flavors. One of the most famous examples is the Bordelais sweet wine, Sauternes. Noble rot is also known as Edelfäule in German, muffa in Italian, and pourriture noble in French.

Bottle Sickness - A temporary condition characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors that often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines (usually fragile wines) are shaken in travel. Also called bottle shock. (A few days of rest is the cure)

Bouquet - A term used when evaluating the smell of an aged wine. Similar to aroma, but referring to characteristics developed during the aging process.

Brix (baume, oechsle) - A measurement of the sugar content in grapes, must or wine. The level of brix indicates the degree of the grapes' ripeness (sugar level) at harvest. Most table-wine grapes are harvested at between 21 and 25 Brix. In general, to convert brix into the level of alcohol, multiply the stated Brix by .55.

Brut - A general term used to designate a relatively dry (low sugar content) Champagne or sparkling wine.

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C

Carbonic maceration - A type of fermentation in which whole bunches of uncrushed grapes are placed in a closed tank. The weight of the grapes on top crushes those on bottom, releasing juice that ferments naturally. The juice in the uncrushed grapes ferments within the grape. The result is an extremely fresh and juicy style of wine. This process is used extensively in Beaujolais.

Champagne - The northernmost wine appellation in France which produces several styles of wine, both still and sparkling. In order to carry the Champagne AOC on a wine label however, the wine must be sparkling and the grapes must be grown within the boundaries of the Champagne region. There are three well-known towns in Champagne: Riems, Ay, and Épernay. Wine from Champagne may be made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, or a blend of these grapes. All Champagne must also be made using the strict "traditional method" or "classic method" (méthode traditionnelle, méthode classique). What makes Champagne "bubbly" is that the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation within the bottle. The term "Champagne" is also used in parts of the Cognac region where the soils are quite similar to those in the Champagne region. There are several other methods of making wine "sparkle," and sparkling wines are made in many regions, but none can carry the Champagne name unless they meet the above criteria. Other sparkling wines of the world include the Spanish Cava, Prosecco in Italy, and a variety of wines labeled as "crémant." Crémant d.Alsace and Crémant de Bourgogne are sparkling wines made in the méthode traditionnelle.

Chaptalization - The addition of sugar to juice before and/or during fermentation, used to boost alcohol levels in wines made from under-ripe grapes. Adding sugar prior to fermentation doesn.t necessarily make the wine sweet. Common in northern European countries where the cold climates may keep grapes from ripening but forbidden in southern Europe (including southern France and all of Italy) and California.

Charmat Method - An inexpensive, quick method of making sparkling wine. Yeast and sugar are added to bulk base wines which are held in a pressurized tank; this addition triggers a second fermentation that is halted by cooling the tank. Once the secondary fermentation is finished, the wine is filtered and a dosage is added prior to bottling.

Clone - A group of vines originating from a single, individual plant. Clones are selected for the unique qualities of the grapes and wines they yield such as flavor, productivity, and adaptability to growing conditions.

Cold Stabilization - A clarification technique in which a wine's temperature is lowered to 32° F, causing the tartrates and other insoluble solids to precipitate.

Colloids - Microscopic particles including solids, liquids and gases. Colloids most often refer to large organic molecules, but sometimes refer to smaller molecules such as phenolics, pigmented tannins, and tannins. Colloids contribute to a wine.s viscosity. Some colloids are stripped from wine during fining for the purposes of clarification and stability. However, the more colloids remaining after fining, the more body a wine will have, the more astringency it will have as a young wine, and the more complex it will taste after aging.

Corked/Corky - Describes a wine with a musty or moldy odor and taste. Usually caused by a chemical called Trichloroanisole, or TCA which may be formed by the interaction of chlorine to corks, especially in warm, moist conditions.

Cuveé - A blend or special lot of wine.

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D

Decant - A term for the pouring of wine out of its bottle into a vessel (or decanter), usually made of glass or crystal, for the purpose of aeration and removal of sediment.

Decanter - A vessel, usually glass or crystal, into which wine is poured. The most obvious reason for decanting is to remove sediment that has formed in a bottle. Another main reason for decanting is to promote aeration and encourage the development of the wine.s bouquet. Decanters come in many different shapes and sizes.

Demi-Sec - A term relating to sweetness. In the language of Champagne, it can be misleading; although demi-sec means half-dry, demi-sec sparkling wines are usually slightly sweet to medium sweet.

Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) - Portugal.s controlled appellation systems.

Denominación de Origen (DO) - Spain.s controlled appellation system, established in 1926.

Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) - The highest rank in Spanish wine categorization. An extension of the DO system, designating regions that maintain high standards of production and above average grape prices.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) - Italy.s controlled appellation system.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) - An expansion on Italy.s DOC laws. This category was created to recognize the finest wines in the country - similar to the DOCa in Spain.

Developed - A broad term referring to aged wine or the aroma of wine that has been aged. Developed aromas differ from primary fruit aromas in that they tend to consist of savory, earthy notes rather than young fruity notes.

Disgorging (dégorgement) - The process of removing yeasty sediment after the second fermentation. Disgorging, which involves the freezing and ejection of yeasty sediment that has settled gradually into the neck of a bottle, is part of the traditional method used in all Champagne production.

Dosage - In bottle-fermented sparkling wines, a small amount of wine (usually sweet) that is added back to the bottle once the yeast sediment that collects in the neck of the bottle is removed. Also applies to sparkling wines made in the tank, or Charmat method.

Dry - Having little or no perceptible taste of sugar. Most wine tasters begin to perceive sugar at levels of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent.

Dumb - Describes a phase young wines undergo when their flavors and aromas are muted and undeveloped.

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E

Eiswein - The fifth level of the German QmP rating system, Eiswein differs from the other wines of these designations as Eiswein grapes get their concentrated sweetness from the process of freezing on the vine rather than the effects of Botrytis.

Enology - The science and study of winemaking. Also called viniculture or oenology.

Ethyl Acetate - A sweet, vinegary smell that often accompanies acetic acid. It exists to some extent in all wines and in small doses can be a plus. When it is strong and smells like nail polish, it's a defect.

Extract - Richness and depth of concentration of fruit in a wine. Usually a positive quality, although high extract wine can also be highly tannic and can be undesirable in certain styles of wine.

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F

Fermentation - In winemaking, the process of converting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide effected by the oxygen free metabolism of yeast.Field Blend - When a vineyard is planted to several different varieties and the grapes are harvested together to produce a single wine, the wine is called a field blend.

Filtration - The winemaking process of straining out solid particles in wine with various types of filters. It is an alternative to natural settling and speeds up the winemaking process allowing for better control. It is argued, however, that filtration strips a fine wine of some of its complexity and capacity for aging.

Fining - (also collage, or sticking in French) The process of adding a clarifying agent to coagulate or absorb and quickly precipitate the colloids in a wine for efficient precipitation. This process results in clarification and stabilization. Commonly used fining agents include egg whites, fish bladders (isinglass), and bentonite.

Fortified - Denotes a wine whose alcohol content has been increased by the addition of brandy or other neutral spirits.

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G

Gemischter Satz - Some vineyards in Austria cultivate a variety of different grapes, which are gathered, crushed, processed, and bottled together to create a field blend. The term gemischter Satz refers to both this style of vineyard and the wines produced therein.

Green Harvest - The trimming of unripe grapes to decrease crop yields, thereby increasing the concentration of flavors in the remaining bunches.

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