Acidity is a wine’s “pucker” or tartness; it’s what makes a wine refreshing and your tongue salivate and want another sip.
Aerating wine simply means exposing the wine to air or giving it a chance to "breathe" before drinking it.
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ABV stands for "Alcohol by Volume" and is listed on every beverage you purchase.
An appellation is a legally defined area used in relation to where grapes were grown. These terms are protected and have specific rules around what wines can and cannot be labeled with it. Examples of popular appellations are Napa, Bordeaux, Sonoma, Rutherford, etc. Appellations are defined either by political boundaries, such as the name of a county, state, or country, or by federally recognized regions.
Essentially, biodynamics is a holistic view of agriculture. It believes that all things in the universe are interconnected. Like organic wines, biodynamic wines contain no chemicals and additives throughout the winemaking process, they just take things a step further.
Wine blending is the process by which you combine different varietal wines into one (i.e. mixing or "blending" Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon together). This can help achieve a superior balance, flavor profile, and ultimate wine. Bordeaux, one of the most popular wines in the world, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec.
Bourbelance is an ancient white wine grape variety grown mainly in southern France. It's typically used in blending and is known for its rich minerality combined with citrus flavors.
- Medium bodied
- High acidity
- Low tannin
- Bone dry
- Serve at 44-57 F / 6-13 C
- Decanting time: 0 minutes
- Best in a white wine glass
"Certified Sustainable" is a certification program providing third-party verification that a winery or vineyard has adopted and implemented stringent sustainable winegrowing standards based on the Industry's Code of 200+ best practices, and has committed to continuous improvement in those areas.
Also known as the "traditional method", this is the process used in the Champagne region of France to produce Champagne.
In viticulture, a clone refers to wine grapevines that are genetically identical, and come from a single "mother" plant.
"Corked" wine refers to wine that has been exposed to cork taint - the presence of a chemical compound called TCA (or trichloroanisole). TCA is formed when natural fungi (of which many reside in cork) come in contact with certain chlorides found in bleaches and other winery sanitation products. If a winery uses corks infected with this fungi, the wine becomes tainted.
A “crossed variety” means a grape is bred from two different Vitis vinifera varieties, which include the most widely known and popular winemaking grapes. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is a crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
Decanting can be dual-purposed. In old wines, it's used to pour wine without disturbing resting sediment. In young, bold wines, it can be used to aerate the wine and allow it to breathe, thus softening tannins.
During the winemaking process for sparkling wines using the Champagne Method, sediment builds up in the neck of the wine bottle during the second fermentation. The purpose of disgorgement is to expel the deposit that collects in the neck of the bottle. This can be completed in one of two ways: mechanical disgorgement (à la glace) or disgorgement by hand (à la volée).
Dosage is a mixture of wine and sugar or grape must (juice) that’s added at the end of the second fermentation. Dosage is essential because the acidity in sparkling wines is so high, it can be undrinkable - sweetness and acidity balance each other out in a good wine.
Dry wines have little to no residual sugar content, meaning they're the opposite of sweet. Don't get this confused with tannin (which many people perceive as "dryness") or fruit flavors (which many perceive as sweetness), however. If the wine is off-dry or sweet, residual sugar is specifically felt on the front of the tongue when wine first enters your mouth.
Estate-bottled wine is made entirely from grapes owned by the winery. From the vineyard to the bottle, they’re in control - the wine doesn’t ever leave the property during fermentation, aging, or bottling (talk about a homebody!)
During winemaking, yeast consumes the sugar in the grape must (juice) and converts it to ethanol (alcohol). Some winemakers opt to use commercial yeast and add it to the juice, as they can better control the outcome of the final wine this way. Alternatively, yeast is naturally present on the skin of grapes and can start this fermentation naturally, through a process called "native" or "spontaneous" fermentation.
Filtration works by passing the wine through a material that contains a series of very small holes, similar to a coffee filter. Liquid and particles small enough to fit through these holes are allowed to pass through; particles that are too large get held back and are effectively removed from the liquid. This improves appearance and keeps the wine from looking cloudy.
Clarifying, or fining, a wine happens at the last stage in the winemaking process and removes hazy particles and tiny molecules, such as proteins, tartrates, tannins, and phenolics. These materials are all-natural and in no way harmful, however, modern wine-drinkers aren’t used to seeing these in their bottles!
Fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled spirit, usually a grape spirit such as brandy, has been added. The two most well-known varieties of fortified wines are port and sherry. Both of these are fortified with brandy and, like most wines, are named for their locations of origin. (Therefore, California can make a "Port-Style" wine, but it's not actually Port unless it comes from Portugal!) Fortified wine can be sweet or dry, and is most notably characterized by its higher alcohol content.
Lees are a mixture of dead yeast, grape skins, seeds stems, and tartrates, which are racked off and discarded during the winemaking process. Another type of lees, known as fine lees, is mostly made of dead yeast cells that gradually settle on the bottom of a fermentation vessel. Some wines spend extended amounts of time on the lees, imparting flavors of toast, bread-like aromas, cheese or buttermilk-like aromas, and sometimes sweet, nutty aromas.
Maceration refers to the period of winemaking in which the must (aka juice) is in contact with the skins, stems, and seeds. These impart the important tannins, coloring agents, and flavor compounds that are necessary for some wines, especially red wines. White wines typically do not go through this process. Extended maceration is when seeds and skins of grapes are left in contact with juice or wine for a longer period of time than what's "typical". The goal of extended maceration is to increase color, flavor, and tannin structure in the wine.
Malolactic Fermentation is a winemaking process that gives both red and white wines a richer and creamier texture. It's what imparts those flavors of butter and cream!
Mouthfeel describes the sensation of wine in the mouth. Most descriptors are related to texture, for example: silky, smooth, velvety, and rough. Mouthfeel is influenced by wine components, as acidity can be sharp, alcohol can be hot, tannins can be rough and sugar can be thick or cloying. It relates to the wine's body, acidity, and overall balance.
Must is one of the first steps of winemaking and refers to the freshly crushed fruit juice that contains grape skins, seeds, and stems. The solid portion of the must is called pomace.
Something that may surprise you: you can find up to 50,000 yeast particles on a single wine grape, naturally. This means that if you left a pile of freshly picked grapes in a bowl on your counter, it will naturally begin the fermentation process - where yeast converts the grape sugar to alcohol. Most winemakers use commercial yeasts to better control the process, however, a growing handful uses "native yeast" to craft wines from "wild" or "spontaneous" fermentation.
In "natural", or "minimal-intervention" winemaking, grapes are turned into wine with as little interference as possible. The goal? To allow the terroir and varietal personality to truly shine through. Because very little is done during the actual winemaking process, grape quality is of the utmost importance - winemaking here truly starts in the vineyard.
In winemaking, organic is a highly regulated term and can refer to either the wine as a whole, or the grapes in the wine. "Organic wine" is the more strict definition of the two.
If you’ve ever revisited an opened bottle of wine left out too long, you may notice it’s slightly brown and smells a little off, like vinegar. Such are the destructive effects of oxidation—the same process that turns a cut apple brown or causes an avocado’s color to change. Oxidation happens when a wine’s exposure to air triggers a series of chemical reactions that convert ethanol (what we commonly refer to as alcohol) into acetaldehyde. Some oxygen exposure can be beneficial to wine, but too much will cause its flavors to go flat and ruin its taste, turning it to vinegar. In the latter situation, you would consider the wine "oxidized".
Short for alkyl-methoxypyrazines, pyrazines are chemical compounds generally found in higher levels in the classic Bordeaux varietals- Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carménère and Malbec. It often contributes savory flavors, such as green pepper, fresh herbs, and asparagus. At its best, these can make wines more flavorful and complex, however, they can also make wines incredibly polarizing.
We're going to get super nerdy with this one! Most wine drinkers won't look at the pH of a wine, but it's super important to winemakers. Typically, the pH level of a wine ranges from 3 to 4, with a lower pH number indicating higher acid levels, while a high pH means lower acidity. Acidity provides some of the backbone needed for long-term aging, so high acid wines are more likely to improve with time than those with lesser amounts. Acid can also affect the flavor profile of the wine: a wine with high acid will usually taste crisper and more tart on the palate. A low-acid wine will feel smoother and rounder on the palate.
Racking is a winemaking term that means moving wine from one vessel to another. This can be from tank to barrel, barrel to barrel, and barrel to tank. The purpose of this racking is to further clarify the wine by taking the wine out of the barrel, cleaning the barrel of the sediment, and then putting the wine back into the barrel for further development.
The saignée method refers to one of the common ways of making rosé. In French, the term means "bleeding", which is a pretty accurate way to describe it. The process involves removing (or bleeding off) a portion of the pink juice at an early stage in red winemaking. This juice is then fermented separately to produce rosé.
sing-gl vr-ee-tl wine
Single-varietal means that the wines are not blended and crafted from a singular grape (i.e. Merlot). This is typically listed front-and-center on the label.
Skin contact wines usually refer to orange wines - white wines made in the style of reds, where the juice experiences a length of time in contact with the pomace (grape skins and stems). Skin contact wine is exactly what it sounds like: wine that has come in contact with the skins of grapes. Perhaps less obvious is the “why?” — winemakers do this to extract pigments and tannins from the grapes, which will ultimately determine the wine’s appearance, texture, and flavor.
Something that may surprise you -- you can find up to 50,000 yeast particles on a single wine grape, naturally. This means that if you left a pile of freshly picked grapes in a bowl on your counter, it will naturally begin the fermentation process -- where yeast converts the grape sugar to alcohol. Most winemakers use commercial yeasts to better control the process, however, a growing handful uses "native yeast" to craft wines from "wild" or "spontaneous" fermentation.
Sulfites are a food preservative widely used in winemaking, thanks to their ability to maintain the flavor and freshness of wine.
The major difference between the tank method and the champagne method is that the second fermentation happens in a large tank instead of individual bottles.
Tannins stem from four primary sources: the grape skins, seeds, stems, and the wood barrels used during aging. They provide texture and mouthfeel to wine as well as a sense of weight and structure. ... Tannins create the drying sensation in your mouth when you drink a red wine. If you're trying to understand what this feels like, brew an incredibly strong cup of black tea and drink it. That drying sensation is caused by tannins in the tea. It's similar in wine!
In general, "terroir" is a term used to describe a sense of place and the way that affects the final flavors of a wine.
Varietal refers to the type of grape that is used in making wine - i.e. Chardonnay, Merlot.
A wine's vintage is the year in which the grapes were harvested. This is clearly indicated on most wine labels.
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Whole cluster fermentation refers to the fermentation of intact grape clusters.
Élevage is a French term that, when applied to wine, means to “bring up” or “raise”, implying the complex processes and work needed to bring out wine's characteristics, qualities, and potential. Specifically, the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling.