Know the Wine Terminology
Anthocyanin: The pigments just under grape skins, which color wine. Recent studies show anthocyanins, along with other naturally occurring substances in red wine, are very healthy and may prevent a number of human diseases.
Attack: A tasting term that refers to . the initial flavor of the wine when it hits the palate.
Barrel toast: The process of heating . the wood of an oak barrel that will be used for fermenting or aging wine. This heating is done to a winemaker’s specifications and the degree of toasting affects the flavor and structure of the wine. Lightly toasted oak imparts tannin from the wood to the wine, but relatively little color and flavor. Heavily toasted oak adds less tannin, more color, and more pronounced flavors of spice, smoke, and often roasted coffee.
Biodynamic viticulture: A method of . grape growing that is an offshoot of biodynamic agriculture founded by the Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Biodynamic farming, like organic methods, rejects pesticide use to minimize damage to ecosystems. However, while organic farmers add heaps of manure to soil, biodynamic growers only add a teaspoon or so, believing it’s enough to harness natural forces streaming in from the cosmos. Biodynamism is rooted firmly in faith.
Collar: The bubble ring at the periph¬. ery of a glass of sparkling wine.
Crémant: Sparkling wine from areas . in France other than Champagne. This wine is made fizzy by the traditional method of creating a second fermentation in the bottle.
Flabby: A tasting term that means the . wine tastes flat due to a lack of acid¬ity or sourness relative to the fruit intensity.
Garagiste: Originally a French term . for winemakers who produce small quantities of wine from their garages in Bordeaux. Jean-Luc Thunevin was the first garagiste in St. Emilion, Bordeaux, taking the world by storm by producing amazing wines under the label Valan¬draud. The first vintage was 1991 and by 1996 the prices had soared to more than those of the top Premier Grand Cru Classé wines of the region. Like all fads, the market for these wines deflated, but Thunevin is looking to get his wines recog¬nized formally in 2006 when St. Emilion reclassi¬fies its wines—an event that takes place every ten years. Today, many small-scale wineries all over the world market themselves as garagistes.
Green harvesting: When a grower removes bunches of unripe grapes from a vine during the growing season to reduce yields and improve the quality of the remaining clusters.
QLa lutte raisonnée: A method of viti¬V . culture adopted by a growing number of French producers that keeps the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides to a bare minimum.
Lean: A wine with light to medium . body and high levels of acidity.
Malolactic fermentation: A winemak¬. ing process whereby the sour malic acids of a wine are changed to the milder lactic acids to produce better balance. Malic acids are what give green apples their characteristic punch, and lactic acid is the much gentler form found in milk. Wines that have undergone malolactic fer-mentation are less sour and often show a buttery aroma.
Master of Wine: Affectionately .referred to in the trade by its abbrevi¬ation MW, this accreditation is internationally rec¬ognized as the highest level of educational achievement for the wine industry, and is very dif¬ficult to earn.
Meritage: A wine made in the U.S. or Canada exclusively with Bordeaux grape varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot for reds and Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle for whites. A wine called Meritage must also be produced in fairly small quantities (not exceeding 25,000 cases) and be one of the two most expen¬sive wines a winery produces.
Négociant: A merchant who buys . grapes, grape juice, or wine and makes wine under his or her own name. Louis Jadot, for instance, is a major négociant in Burgundy. Stone Creek is a major négociant in California.
Noble rot: When white grapes destined to become sweet wines are affected by Botrytis cinerea. This mold shrivels the grapes and concentrates their sugars. When Botrytis cinerea affects grapes not destined for sweet wine production, the disease is less favor¬able and called grey rot.
Phenolics: Grape constituents that exist . mainly in the stems, skin, and seeds that impart flavor, color, and tannins to wines.
Second wine: A wine from the lesser .quality or younger grapes of a prop¬erty known for its “grand vin.” This phrase is mainly used in Bordeaux, but is batted around elsewhere, too.
Skin contact: When white grape skin . is left in contact with the pressed juice before fermentation to extract flavor. When red wines are made, grape skins and pulp are left in contact with the juice during and after fermen-tation to impart color, flavor, and tannin. In red wine, this process is called maceration instead of skin contact.
Tannin: A compound found in grape .skins, pips, and stems that dissolves in the juice during the red winemaking process, giving red wine an astringent and sometimes bit¬ter quality.
Terroir: The French term that means . the soil, climate, geography, and geol¬ogy of an area. Terroir influences the flavors of the grapes and wine from any given place.
Veraison: The period in the growing . season when the grapes change color. 997.Vinification: Winemaking.
Vintage: The year the grapes for a particular wine are harvested.
Viticulture: The agricultural act of . growing grape vines.
Yeast: The fungus that eats the sugar of grape juice and expels alco¬hol and carbon dioxide.The resulting liquid is wine.