New Year, New Wine Words!

New Year, New Wine Words!

Now that much of the drinking has slowed down, let’s take advantage of that sobriety and continue to add to our vocab list.

So new year, new words. And as always, if there are any descriptors that you want included — send them on!

A French sparkling wine that is not made in the Champagne region. Remember, Champagne has to come from Champagne, France. But so many other sparkling wines are made throughout France in the same method as Champagne. So they are called Crémant. They are often just as good as their Champagne brethren, but are cheaper because they can’t use the official name.

A wines is dry because it has very low levels of residual sugar. As a refresher, after the grapes are crushed, the juice is converted to wine and yeast is added to produce alcohol. The yeast eats the sugar during that process.

If the yeast is allowed to eat all the sugar, the wine is no longer sweet. It’s dry. So it depends on the winemaking process.

For example, a Sauvignon Blanc is often dry, compared to a sweeter Moscato. Red Italian wines are often very dry, although a bubbly Lambrusco is clearly sweeter. Port is on the sweet end as well.

That’s the taste that stays in your mouth after you swallow the wine. Kevin Zraly, one of the world’s greatest wine teachers and founder of the 41-year- old Windows on the World Wine School, would say to take a sip, close your eyes and count how long that taste and feel stays in your mouth. If you can get to a minute — that is a nice long finish. You often can judge the quality of a wine by the length of its finish.

The finish is part of savoring your wine.

Basically, fruit is the first thing you get when you stick your nose in that glass and take a sip. Often it’s berries, currants, flowers and more alcohol.

These are often characteristic of “New World” wines — wines from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina. These wines are often younger and made to drink earlier. Whereas “Old World” wines — say from Italy or France — are more earthy, you get more truffles, less alcohol. And they often need time to age.

Just because a wine is fruit-forward doesn’t mean it’s bad or cheap. It just means it’s different.

It’s basically a wine, made in the US, but blended with the same grapes that are grown in Bordeaux, France.

So some call these wines "American Bordeaux." The red blend must be made from at least two of the five main Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.

The white version must have at least two of the Bordeaux white grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Vert and Semillon.

“Meritage” actually is registered with the U.S. Department of Trademarks and Patents. And there is a Meritage Alliance, if you can believe that.

And to put the Meritage name on a bottle, it has to be one of the best wines coming out of a winery. So take comfort in that.

Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip. 

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