Glossary of Terms
AC see Appellation Controlée.
Acetic Acid One of the volatile acids in wine which when found in relatively high levels and exposed to air may react with bacteria and cause off odours before converting the wine to vinegar.
Acetobacter The bacteria that causes the conversion of wine to vinegar.
Acidification The addition of acid to grape must or wine where a wine has naturally low acidity and where the local regulations permit. Tartaric acid is most commonly used.
Acidity Gives wine its freshness. The three main wine acids are tartaric, malic and lactic. The first two are naturally present, the third created through the malolactic fermentation.
Albariza Soil which comprises chalk, limestone, clay and sand. It is encountered in Jerez y Manzanilla and in Montilla-Moriles and one of the benefits is its potential in aiding photosynthesis by reflecting sunlight back to the vines.
Alberello Free standing bush vines, common in southern Italy
Alleinbesitz German for sole ownership of a vineyard site, equivalent of (Burgundian) monopole.
Aldehyde An organic compound formed in wine by the oxidation of alcohol.
Allier One of the French forests where oak is sourced for barrel making.
Ampelography The science of identifying grape varieties. Traditionally done by observing grape leaves and clusters it is much aided now by DNA fingerprinting.
Anthocyanins Are polyphenols found in and just under grape skins that give grapes and wines their colour and add to flavour.
Appellation Strictly speaking means a French Appellation Controlée region. Also used to make reference genetically to a quality wine region.
Appellation Controlée or Appellation d’Origine Controlée The top quality category for French wine. Denominación de Origen is Spain’s similar, main classification. There are specific rules and regulations relating to origin, permitted grape varieties, viticulture and wine characteristics.
Aspect The topography of a vineyard or one or more of its plots/parcels. This includes its altitude as well as its direction and angle of slope.
Assemblage French term referring to the blend of a wine just prior to bottling. This will be from both components of the same grape variety and the blend of varieties if a number of grapes are included. Wines can often be vinified by variety, vineyard site or plot and then the components cellared in different ageing vessels. All may play a part in the blend of the final wine.
Autolysis The process in sparkling winemaking where dead yeast cells or lees add increased flavour and texture to wine aged in bottle, usually under a crown cap. The longer the wine is in contact with the yeast deposit the more striking and complex the character becomes. In general wines spending less than 18 months on yeast will have minimal or no autolytic character, the wines will be much more marked by varietal and fruit flavours. Many top sparkling wines, including Cavas, may spend many years on their yeast deposit.
Bâtonnage The stirring of a wines fine lees after primary fermentation which results in greater flavour and a richer texture. This is now a popular process with top quality barrel fermented white wines. As well as the addition of flavour the process guards against reduced hydrogen sulphide aromas which can be difficult to remove. The limited controlled oxidation the wine receives achieves this.
Barrique A universally popular and widely used oak barrel typically of 225 litre capacity. A range of other smaller barrel sizes are now used by winemakers, in general the larger the vessel the less overt oak influence is desired in the wines flavour if the barrels are new.
Bentonite see Fining.
Biodynamic A specific method of organic farming. Proponents believe that the holistic relationship between soils, plants and animals provides a self-sustaining system that promotes sustainable viticulture and improves the quality and resulting flavour of the wines produced. Natural treatments are used to protect the vineyard and applications carried out in line with lunar and planetary activity. Like other forms of organic farming natural treatments are prepared for use in the vineyard. This was a fairly controversial science until quite recently with many sceptics but the quality of wines being produced along these lines across the globe suggests biodynamic farming has much going for it.
Blanc de Blancs A sparkling wine made solely from white grape varieties.
Blanc de Noirs A sparkling wine made solely from red grapes.
Bocksbeutel Squat, flattened flask-shaped bottle used in Germany’s Franken region.
Botte/Botti Large wooden vessels used for ageing wines in Italy. There will be no oak influence on flavour and the containers are often of substantial size. Foudres in France provide similar conditions.
Botrytis or Botrytis Cinerea is a fungal infection of the vine which is particularly harmful to red grapes. In certain unique conditions though it provides for the development of Noble Rot in areas such as Sauternes, the Mosel and the Loire Valleys Côteaux du Layon. In late warm harvests with early morning humidity and sunny days the grapes will dehydrate concentrating their sugar and flavour. Wines produced from such grapes have a uniquely intense, peachy character.
Botrytised A term referring to wine made from grapes effected by “Noble Rot”.
Bottle Shock A term for the temporarily muted state a wine goes into shortly after it is bottled.
Brettanomyces A spoilage yeast in wines causing off odours somewhat farmyard like. Often referred to just as Brett.
Brut Nature see Dosage.
Canopy refers to the vine canopy which is made up during the growing cycle of the plants shoots and leaves.
Canopy Management A series of techniques for managing the vineyard and improving quality and sometimes yield as well as protecting against disease. This is achieved by controlling the canopy’s growth and ensuring a good flow of light and air to reach the grape bunches. A number of trellising systems have been developed over the past two decades which aid fruit ripening.
Carbonic maceration A winemaking process where whole grapes in bunches are fermented within the grape skins themselves under anaerobic conditions in an environment rich in carbon dioxide. Generally carried out in fairly small containers the bunches at the bottom will split and ferment conventionally. There are variations on the process where wines can be either fermented entirely or partly by this process. Red wines vinified with whole bunches will often produce a partial effect of carbonic maceration. Wines produced by carbonic maceration will have lower levels of tannin and be more obviously fruity. A bubble gum type of aroma tends to indicate carbonic maceration. A downside can also be slightly green aromas from the presence of the stalks if the stems are not fully ripe.
Canteiro Term that refers to the supports given to casks of Madeira where they are stored to be heated solely by natural means (without recourse to estufagem) – refers to this system of ageing generally.
Cépage A term in French for a grape variety but used elsewhere.
Cépage ameliorateurs This means an improving variety. The term has been widely used in Languedoc-Roussillon where there have been increasing amounts of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre planted in addition to the widely distributed Carignan. Becoming less important as sophisticated wine growing develops in these regions.
Champagne method The process used to make sparkling wines in Champagne. A secondary fermentation takes place in bottle with the wine left on its yeast lees. Virtually all the world’s finest sparkling wine comes from this method including Cava.
Chaptalization Process whereby sugar can be added to grape must or fruit after fermentation has commenced. While the basic objective is to raise the resulting wines alcoholic strength, many winemakers believe, if added later in fermentation it will extend it and add further complexity.
Clarification Refers to a number of cellar processes used to remove suspended solids and prevent cloudiness. Both fining and filtration may be used to create stable wines.
Climat Essentially Burgundian term referring to any specific vineyard or identifiable part of it.
Clonal Selection see Clones.
Clones Vines reproduced from the cuttings of original plants. The result tends to produce consistency of yield and flavour characteristics, often in different terroirs. Counter arguments suggest lower flavour complexity is achieved this way with wines having less of a sense of “place”. Other vine growers prefer to plant new vineyards with a range of original cuttings. See Mass Selection.
Cold maceration is a process before fermentation where crushed red grapes can be kept with the grape juice or must at cool temperatures. This extracts both primary, fruit derived flavours and colour and enables the resulting wine to have less tannin if this is desired in the style.
Cold soaking Another more throwaway slang term for Cold maceration.
Cold stabilization Not strictly a stabilization process because this is undertaken with white wines in particular to precipitate out tartaric acid that may form harmless crystals resembling glass shards if stored in very cold conditions. The wine temperature is reduced below freezing and the tartrates precipitate out.
Cork taint Wine spoilage problem where chlorine reacts with cork causing off-aromas and bitter flavours that ruin wine. Although cork taint remains a problem in spoilt wine with alternative closures increasingly used, quality control appears to be much improved, at least in our experience with the many wine samples we receive. See also TCA.
Commerciante Italian Broker or Merchant
Côtes/Coster A term referring to an individual vineyard slope in France/Spain. It can also be used to refer to the vineyard slopes of an area or region, for example Costers del Segre or in southern France, Côtes du Rhône.
Coulure A viticultural hazard that occurs after flowering where the grapes fail to develop fully because of cold and often wet weather. One of the benefits can be a reduction in yield and intensity of flavour in the harvested fruit.
Criança Refer to Crianza.
Crianza An ageing classification. A red wine must be aged for a minimum of two years with 6 months in oak. For whites and rosés the minimum is one year.
Crush The process after harvest where the grapes are generally crushed and possibly de-stemmed as well, enabling the pulp to macerate with the juice. Some whites are immediately pressed and some red grapes destined for red wines commence fermentation in whole bunches and may be trodden by foot. Crush also refers to the grape harvest.
Cru Classé (CC) Classification of Bordeaux wines. Those from the Médoc (from 1er to 5ème Cru Classé/ first to fifth growth) and Barsac/Sauternes (1er or 2ème Cru Classé/ first and second growths) are covered by a famous classification of 1855. Graves (1959) and Saint-Émilion (Grand Cru Classé or Premier Grand Cru Classé) are also classified, the latter is now subject to revision every ten years (the last in 1996 because of recent legal disputes).
Cryo-extraction The process concentrating grape must by freezing it. See Must concentration.
Cuvaison Term referring to the period that the solids, mainly grape skins are kept mixed in solution with the grape juice. This can include a period of pre-fermentation maceration, sometimes referred to as a cold soak, or cold maceration, the primary fermentation and any further period of post fermentation maceration. The latter is increasingly popular with winemakers in achieving suppler tannins and a finer structure and balance in the resulting wines. See also Maceration.
Cuve French term for a wine vat or tank. Can be used for fermentation or storage/ageing and is made from wood, stainless steel or concrete.
DAC Austria’s new regulatory system (Districtus Austriae Controllatus in full) providing official certified origins for Austrian wine. Weinviertel was the first region to use it, in 2003. Others now include Mittelburgenland and Traisental.
Débourbage A French term referring to the period where solid matter from crushed or pressed grape bunches is left to settle. With richer barrel fermented whites, particularly Chardonnay, a certain level of retained solid matter may be desirable to provide a richer texture in the resulting wine. For more aromatic varieties, Riesling for example it is best for the juice to be fully settled.
Dégorgement or disgorgingThe removal of a sparkling wine from its yeast sediment in bottle after its second fermentation.
Demi-muid A wooden barrel of, generally 600 litre capacity. Although sometimes used to refer to smaller sizes they are always considerably larger than a barrique. (also see Tonneaux).
Demi-sec Term for moderate to medium sweet wine, the term Semi-dulce means the same.
Denominación de Origen see DO.
Denominación de Origen Calificada see DO.
De-stemmed Reference to the process where the majority of red and white wines are made from fruit that is crushed and destemmed prior to vinification. The occasional white will also be bunch pressed prior to fermentation while bunch fermentations are often seen in red winemaking, particularly Pinot Noir. Wines made by carbonic maceration are also vinified with whole bunches. The key to reds made without destemming is that the stems as well as the grapes themselves should be fully physiologically ripe, avoiding potential green flavours in the wine.
DO Full name Denominación de Origen is Spain’s main classification for quality wine produced in a specific region or appellation. Two regions, Rioja and Priorat are afforded a higher classification, DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada). Spain is also unusual in possessing a number of single estate DOs or DOPs ( Vinos de Pago), perhaps the most famous being the Marques de Grinon’s Pagos de Familia wines produced under the Dominio de Valdepusa DO.
DOC The Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata is the main category for that country’s protection of wine names and styles. Regulations cover origin, grape varieties and both the type and length of ageing permitted. Many have been revised or at least modified in response to progress to higher quality but there is much debate as to how best protect tradition while accomodating those committed to higher quality. There are well over 300 and many of these include sub-categories. While some DOCs boast numerous quality wines, others fail to deliver even a single premium wine. Also see DOCG. In Portugal Denominação de Origem Controlada is the highest regulated category recently extended to include broad regional areas (with sub-zones) to make for easier identification as Portuguese wines increase in popularity.
DOCG The top level of Italian wine appellations, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita includes a guarantee of origin and stipulates grape varieties but like the French AC it does not ensure top quality.
Dolç Term referring to a sweet or late harvest wine.
DOP see DO.
Dosage The process during the making of Champagne or Traditional method sparkling wines. After the lees from the secondary fermentation have been disgorged a bottle will be topped up with liqueur d’expédition. This is generally a blend of base wine, sometimes a touch of cognac and sucrose which will determine the style of the wine and the level of residual sugar after final bottling.
Dulce A sweet or late harvest style of wine.
Einzellage Individual vineyard site usually preceded by a village name on a label. While providing better definition of a wines origins than a grosslage name there is no classification system that differentiates the best sites from inferior ones. However a classification system is currently being promoted (see Grosses Gewächs).
Élévage French term which refers to all the wine handling and cellar processes from fermentation to bottling.
En Rama Refers to new Fino and Manzanilla styles of sherry which are bottled straight from cask without clarification, filtration and other processes.
En Vaso Term for bush-trained vines. In many cases these will be of considerable age and adding to a wines quality.
Enology The American English spelling of oenology.
Enologist The American English spelling of oenologist.
Esters are compounds formed during fermentation and then ageing which add to aroma.
Ethanol is ethyl alcohol, the primary alcohol in wine.
Erste Lage The term used in the Mosel for the first-rate vineyard sites that equate to Grosses Gewächs.
Erstes Gewächs The top tier of the VDP sponsored classification system of top vineyard sites as used in the Rheingau (also see Grosses Gewächs)
Estufagem The process of heating wine (in hot stores or estufa) in the production of Madeira, simulating the sea voyages across the tropics that gave rise to the style.
Extract All the compounds in wine such as tannins. Does not include water, sugar, alcohol, or acidity. Prolonging the contact with the skins during cuvaison will increase the level of extract.
Extraction Process where tannins, colour and other matter is extracted during Maceration. (also see Cuvaison).
Federspiel Austrian wine term used in the Wachau region to denote a particular level of ripeness in dry Riesling and Grüner Veltliner styles. Between the basic Steinfeder and riper top quality Smaragd levels.
Fermentation is the conversion with yeast of the sugar in grape juice to roughly equal proportions of alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Field blend Refers to wine produced from a mix of different varieties interplanted in a vineyard. Field blends generally come from very old vineyards and are increasingly rare.
Filtration The filtering of grape juice or wine to remove solid matter. Many fine wines are now bottled unfiltered with solid matter left to settle naturally in tank, cask or barrel.
Fining The clarification process to remove the smallest (soluble) microscopic particles in grape juice or wine. Fining agents such as bentonite and egg whites are added which attach themselves to and hence remove the particles. Excess use, particularly with grape juice will be detrimental to flavour.
Flor The film forming yeast produced during the making of Fino and Manzanilla styles of sherry in Jerez and similar wines in Montilla-Moriles. Not all wines will sustain this yeast film and it is susceptible to high alcohol. It produces a unique salty quality in the wines flavour.
Fortification is the process of adding grape spirit to wine either during or after fermentation resulting in higher alcohol and if added during fermentation higher residual sugar because the fermentation is arrested. Fortified wines include, Sherry, as well some Montilla-Moriles and Málaga whites.
Foudre French term for a large wooden vessel ranging in size from 20 to 120 hectolitres used to store and age wine.
Fudre is the German term for a foudre.
GI Geographical Indications is the slowly evolving Australian delimitation of its wine regions and is split into four levels. The broadest is the political boundary of ‘state’ (for example, South Australia), followed by ‘zones’ (Mount Lofty Ranges) which split the state into smaller parts and give some coherency to a group of often already well-established ‘regions’ (Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley). More definition within both established or new regions is made possible by the granting of subregions (Lenswood and Piccadilly in the Adelaide Hills).
Gelatine is a fining agent used particularly in the removal of excessive tannins. Refer to fining.
Gran Reserva An ageing classification. In Spain Gran Reserva reds must spend a total of 5 years ageing with a minimum of 18 months in oak and 36 months in bottle. Whites and rosés must be aged for 4 years in total with a minimum of 6 months in oak.
Grand cru French wine classification. In Burgundy and Alsace this refers to specific vineyard sites. In Champagne to villages with vineyards of the best potential. For Bordeaux see Cru Classé.
Green harvesting Process in which the greener less mature grape bunches will be removed in a vineyard in order to aid ripening and improve concentration and flavour with a reduction in yield. The process should be carried out before veraison (when the berries change colour). May be used in areas which achieve naturally high yields and in regions where maximum yields are set down in regulations.
Grosses Gewächs German system of classification being promoted by the VDP, a consortium of leading estates. The term Grosses Gewächs is used in regions other than the Mosel (see Erste Lage) and Rheingau (see Erstes Gewächs).
Grosslage Broad grouping of vineyards in Germany, often permits the inclusion of grapes from inferior plots in a blend.
Guyot French vine training system developed in the second half of the 19th century. Cane pruning is employed with either one or two replacement canes trained along wires and the new seasons shoots vertically positioned above on a second wire. The system works well in naturally low yielding sites.
Gyropalette see Riddling.
Hybrid Vine variety produced by crossing two different vine species. It should not be confused with a Crossing which is produced from two varieties of the same species. Hybrids of Vinifera formed with the more hardy American vine species are generally held in low regard but a few such as Seyval Blanc can yield good quality wine without any trace of a so-called ‘foxy’ quality.(also see Crossing, Vinifera)
Hydrogen sulphide Produced when hydrogen combines with sulphur dioxide creating off flavours that smell of rotten eggs. It is produced when the wine is in a reduced state.
IGP is the abbreviation for the new French and Spanish country wine classifications (Indication Géographique Protégée in France and Indicación Geográfica Protegida in Spain). The former classifications were Vin de Pays ( VdP) and Vinos de la Tierra ( VdT ). At present many wines are on the market with the old classification on their labels, particularly in Spain.
IGT Indicazione Geografica Tipica is the Italian equivalent of the French Indication Géographique Protégée
Inox French term to describe stainless steel tanks. Winemakers refer to vinifying and ageing in inox.
Irrigation Widely practiced in areas of the new world during the vine growth cycle where there is often insufficient water available to sustain the vine in good health. It is also permitted in a select number of regions in southern Europe. Spanish quality wine has certainly benefitted from this in the warmer, more arid areas. Drip irrigation is generally considered the best system with controlled deficit supply of just sufficient water to sustain vine growth and minimise stress. Some vine stress particularly in the ripening process is beneficial and will increase flavour intensity in grapes.
Joven is a Spanish term for a young wine which is generally fruit-riven without recourse to barrel or cask ageing.
Lactic acid This is created from malic acid during the malolactic fermentation.
Late disgorged Refers to sparkling wine that has spent an extended period on its yeast lees after the secondary fermentation before disgorging.
Lees The sediment including dead yeast cells left after a wine has completed fermentation. In general red wines vinified in vats and tanks will be racked off the lees and then racked one or more times for clarity. A number of reds though will be aged on their lees and a technique, micro-oxygenation, minimises the need for racking and protects the wine from reduced aromas which the lees naturally produce. Good quality white wines will generally spend a period on the fine lees, a finer sediment left after racking, even those aged for just a short period in tank. This increases flavour intensity and enriches the wines texture. Barrel-fermented whites will not only remain on their fine lees in cask these will also be stirred. See also Bâtonnage.
Lieu-dit A specific vineyard (or climat) which has no official classification but identified on a label when that site has been bottled separately from other village-level wine. Regularly found on Alsace and Burgundy labels.
Liqueur de tirage French term describing the mixture of sugar and yeast that is used to instigate the secondary bottle fermentation in traditional method sparkling wines.
Liqueur d’expedition see Dosage.
Llicorella A term for the soil found in the Priorat DOCa which it is believed contributes substantially to the intensely mineral aromas found in the wines. It is volcanic black slate based and also serves the purpose of reflecting sunlight and storing and radiating heat back to the vines. Black slate soils are also found in the vineyards of the Roussillon.
Maceration Refers to the period where crushed grape must as well as pressed whole bunches remain in solution with the solid matter from the grapes. The maceration process extracts colour, tannin and flavour as well as an array of other compounds in tiny amounts. The approach to macerating the wine will determine its character and style. There may be a period of cold maceration which will extract colour and more primary, fruity flavours. The fermentation on the wine skins will provide additional flavour, colour and tannin. In general the cooler the fermentation the softer and more approachable the wine will be. Warmer ferments are likely to provide wines with a firmer structure and more tannin. Continuing to keep the new wine for a short period on its solid matter helps polymerise the tannins and achieve a softer, better balance. The cap of grape skins formed during fermentation needs to be kept in solution with the fermenting must and various methods are used which also aid extraction. These include hand plunging (pigéage) and pumping the fermenting must over the cap (remontage). Some skin contact prior to fermentation is also practiced by a number of producers of white wines (see Macération Pelliculaire). See also Cuvaison.
Macération carbonique is the French spelling of Carbonic Maceration. See Carbonic Maceration.
Macération pelliculaire French expression meaning skin contact. In effect it refers to the period of just a few hours when white wine must is macerated with its skins prior to fermentation. Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc in Bordeaux and Chenin Blanc in the Loire as well as more aromatic varieties like Muscat have all successfully been vinified using this technique. Excessive skin contact will result in coarseness and very early oxidation.
Malic acid is one of the three main acids with a strong taste in wine reminiscent of green apple. The wine can be softened by converting the malic acid or a part of it through the malolactic fermentation.
Malolactic fermentation Or MLF is a chemical process after the primary fermentation has been completed where the relatively harsh malic acid naturally present in wine is converted to softer, lactic acid. All reds are put through MLF, sometimes in larger tanks or vats and increasingly in new wood during the ageing process providing a softer, rounder texture. This has had proponents and critics over recent years. More aromatic whites like Riesling will have the process blocked. This avoids the more creamy flavour and richer texture that comes from the process but retains acidity and emphasises varietal fruit character. Top whites, particularly Chardonnay grown in cooler areas with marked acidity, benefit from the process having greater weight and depth and show a creamier texture. It may often be blocked with warmer grown Chardonnay to preserve acidity.
Mass Selection see Sélection Massale.
Mercaptans result from the reaction of alcohol and hydrogen sulphide and produce faulty wines smelling of onions, burnt rubber and garlic.
Meritage Term used in the United States to describe a Bordeaux style blend either red or white. Becoming increasingly rare.
Mesoclimate/Microclimate Refers to the very local climate of a small area often just a single vineyard and contributes to the character of wines produced. Many observers also refer to the term microclimate when characterising those same areas and wines. Some viticulturalists have maintained that this is incorrect and that microclimate refers more specifically to the environment around the vine canopy. However readers will find wide reference to microclimate elsewhere which will inevitably be concern vineyards and sites.
Méthode Traditionelle see Traditional Method.
Metodo Classico see Traditional Method.
Micro-oxygenation Process whereby small amounts of oxygen are pumped into wine ageing in barrel or vat. Developed in Madiran with the objective of rounding the often substantial tannins found in the regions wines. In addition the process also reduces the need for wine handling, particularly racking in the first year of ageing. Reds can also more safely be left on their lees because the risk of reduction is countered.
Millerandage Irregular fruit development after flowering caused by cool weather. Yield is reduced because some berries are smaller. Quality though is likely to improve. This characteristic of smaller and larger berries in the same grape bunch is often referred to as hen and chicken.
Must The juice from crushed and/or pressed grapes prior to fermentation. As well as juice, must contains all the skins, pulp and solid matter.
Must concentration Process of removing water from grape juice with the objective of increasing the concentration of the other components. A number of techniques are used including freeze concentration. To some degree this is reproducing natural conditions found in Icewines (Eisweins in Germany), where the fruit is naturally frozen in the vineyard. Refer to Cryo-extraction).
Négociant French term for a wine merchant. They may buy grapes as well as finished wine and also have their own vineyards and properties. While there has been a trend in Burgundy and other areas to more wines being Domaine bottled an increasing number of small producers are also now acting as négociants as well.
Négociant-manipulant In Champagne, a merchant who also makes wine. Includes all the great Champagne houses.
Noble Rot see Botrytis.
Oenologist A winemaker.
Oenologue French term for an enologist.
Oenology The study of wine.
Organic An increasing number of winegrowers around the world are now producing wines without recourse to chemical treatments in the vineyard and with very selective chemical additives during vinification and ageing. See also Biodynamic.
Oxidation is the exposure of must or wine to air. In general oxidation should be avoided however a limited amount of controlled oxidation during the ageing of wine prior to bottling can be beneficial. It is likely to add further complexity in particular in fortified wines. Oxidation of grape juice can also add complexity in some barrel fermented white wines. Reduction is the opposite of oxidation. See also Reduction.
Passerillage Grapes that are late-harvested and have dried and become partially raisined concentrating their sugar but are not effected by noble rot.
Passito Italian for wine made from dried grapes.
Phenols The compounds naturally present in grapes, in the skin, stem and pips. Tannin, flavour and anthocyanins, which produce colour, are all extracted during vinification through both maceration and the temperature of fermentation. See also Cuvaison, Extraction and Maceration.
Photosynthesis is the vinegrowing process where sunlight is harnessed by chlorophyll in the vine leaves to then convert into sucrose.
Phylloxera An aphid and the most significant pest for grapevines. Native to North America it became infested in many of the worlds vineyards in the 19th century. Certain soils such as sand are resistant to the aphid but in the vast majority of instances the only protection is to graft the vinifera vine onto an American vine rootstock which has good resistance.
Pigéage is the punching down of the cap of grape skins and pulp formed during fermentation to submerge it. This can be done by hand, using special machines or even by foot. This helps extraction and guards against oxidation. It is a more gentle process than pumping over. See Roto-fermenter.
Propagation Meaning reproduction. In viticultural terms this most commonly refers to vegetative propagation using cuttings taken from other vines.
Pumping over see Remontage.
Punching down see to Pigéage.
Pyrazines Term referring to a group of aromatic compounds found in grapes in varying degrees. These include green bell pepper aromas in Cabernet Sauvignon and the grassy tones often found in Sauvignon Blanc. An excess of green aromas in wine can indicate an excessively vigorous vine canopy that has impeded full grape ripening.
Quinta Portuguese term which refers to either a wine estate or a single vineyard.
Racking is the process where wine is transferred from one barrel or vat to another. The benefits are twofold, wine is removed from precipitated solids and is also gently aerated. Traditionally pumps were used but increasingly winery operations are carried out by gravity.
Rancio Maderised character with burnt, toffee like aromas produced in the development of aged fortified wines through a combination of controlled oxidation and exposure to heat. The wines are often exposed to direct sunlight as well. Banyuls, Maury and Rivesaltes in the Roussillon as well as the fortified Muscats and Tokays of Rutherglen all show classic rancio character.
Reduction is a term referring to wines that are heavily reduced and can develop foul smelling sulphides. A balanced cellar regime with sufficient aeration of the wine and lees if the wine is being aged this way should prevent this. In chemical terms if something is being oxidised it is not being reduced and vice-versa.
Reductive Refers to wines that are in a reduced state.
Ried Term used in Austria to denote a specific vineyard site.
Remontage is a French term for the extraction process during maceration of pumping the juice over the cap of grape skins. Generally considered a less gentle method than punching down.
Reserva is an ageing classification. For red Reservas there is a minimum period of three years ageing and at least one year in oak. For both whites and rosés the periods are 2 years ageing and 6 months in barrel.
Residual Sugar There is always a small portion of unfermentable sugar in wine even those that are technically classified as dry. It is commonplace in some whites particularly straightforward fruit driven styles to purposely leave a hint of residual sugar. More serious wines from cooler regions like Alsace and the Mosel may well be completed with some sugar left naturally. Late harvested wines are deliberately left on the vine to accumulate sufficient sugar to ensure considerable sweetness after vinification. See also Botrytis.
Riddling is the process during the making of Traditional method sparkling wines where the yeast deposit after the secondary fermentation is moved to the neck of the bottle by twisting and tilting. Can be done by hand or automated with gyropalettes which is popular with larger producers.
Ripasso Term registered by Valpolicella producer Masi. Used to refer to an enrichment already the fermented wine by passing it over the skins of Amarone, adding alcohol, texture and character.
Variations exist – see Introduction to North-East, Central & Southern Italy.
Roble The Spanish for oak. It has recently become commonplace in describing wines aged for a short period in oak barrels.
Rootstock The plant formed from the root system of the vine to which the scion (fruiting part) is grafted. Most vinifera vines (the european species to which most quality grape varieties belong) are grafted on to rootstocks of American vines (or hybrids of them) due to its resistance to phylloxera. As well as guarding against phylloxera a rootstock can benefit growth being adaptable to certain soils and resistant to other vine maladies.
Roseworthy Famous winemaking college in South Australia whose graduates have had an impact both in Australasia and around the globe.
Roto-fermenter A piece of winemaking equipment that automatically mixes the grape skins and pulp during fermentation and maceration. It is a horizontal spinning tank.
Saignée Running off some free run juice prior to fermentation in order to increase the ratio of skins and solids in they must and therefore flavour and tannin. Regularly practiced in the production of top quality Pinot Noir.
Screw cap An alternative closure to a cork that neutralises the risk of TCA cork taint. See Stelvin Cap.
Sélection Massale Mass Selection – the propagation of new plants from existing vines selected for their quality and performance, particularly in a specific vineyard rather than the use of a single clone. Easier to use effectively in older vineyards and labour intensive.
Sin crianza Term referring to a young wine bottled without ageing. Refer to Crianza.
Smaragd The top level of ripeness in Austria’s Wachau region, named for a little green lizard. Includes nearly all the most structured and ageworthy examples of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner.
Solera A system of fractional blending used in Jerez in the production of sherry to provide consistency and enrichment. It has long been established in Jerez in the ageing of Sherry. It is also practiced in Montilla-Moriles and used to some extent in other fortified production such as at Rutherglen or Madeira. The name is derived from the bottom rung of a series of barrels containing the oldest wine. Only a small part of the wine is drawn from this bottom level at one time. Successive levels are then replenished by younger wines from the level above.
Semi-dulce A Spanish term for a moderate to medium sweet wine. Refer to Demi-sec.
Stabilization is a reference to a range of wine making processes that remove particles which may undergo further chemical reactions in bottle. These include fining, filtration, the addition of sulphur dioxide. Refer to Cold Stabilization.
Steinfeder Austrian term used in the Wachau region referring to lowest of 3 levels of ripeness. Federspiel and, especially, Smaragd levels encompass wines of higher quality and longevity.
Steirische Klassik An increasingly widely adopted designation used for white wines in Austria’s Südsteiermark. Typically (if not always) made in stainless steel, the wines show no discernable oak character.
Stelvin cap A screw cap closure that also has a plastic neutral liner inside the cap. See Screw Cap
Sulphur dioxide The all purpose wine anti septic. Sulphur dioxide, SO2 is added to wine to prevent oxidation and the development of bacteria.
Süssreserve German term for unfermented grape juice used to add sweetness to wines as a means of improving the balance between sweetness and acidity. Less satisfactory than balance that is achieved naturally.
TBA Short for Trockenbeerenauslese – the richest, sweetest level of QmP wines in Germany, determined by a minimum must weight (or sugar level in the grapes). Of similar style and sweetness in Austrian examples. Many are prohibitively expensive (and only sold at auction) due to both demand and a labour intensive production. Also see Germany (Making sense of German wine styles).
TCA Chemical compound, its full name is 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, responsible for most of the off flavours in wine caused by contaminated corks. Chlorine reacts with the cork to produce the contamination and the aroma can be picked up in minute quantities. Although quality control has much improved in recent years cork taint remains a significant problem in spoilt wine and alternative methods of closure are on the increase. The chemical or variants of it can also be found elsewhere and has been a cause of contamination in some wine cellars.
Terra Rossa Reddish coloured loam over a limestone base, most famously associated with Coonawarra in South Australia but also found in other wine regions.
Terroir Concept used by French winegrowers and referred to by others around the globe that considers all the natural and environmental characteristics that may influence a vine growing site, such as soil, aspect, climate and so on. Also refers to the character in a wine that is derived from its origins rather than the grape variety.
Tonneaux A bordeaux barrel size of 900 litres but can often be used to refer to considerably smaller vessels. What is referred to in Italy as tonneaux can vary from double-sized barriques to that of demi- muid.
Traditional method The classic method of Champagne production (see Champagne method) as it is referred to in other regions for sparkling wines made in this way. Known as méthode traditionelle or méthode classique in other parts of France, as metodo classico in Italy.
Triage French term which refers to the sorting and selection of grapes prior to fermentation. Top quality wines will be subjected to a very rigorous triage.
Tris Multiple passages through a vineyard to selectively pick late harvested or botrytis effected grapes. In order to produce great wines it may be necessary to make many such passes. In Bordeaux Tri also refers to the sorting of grapes generally after harvest. This selection process is vital in all wineries to ensure top quality wines.
Unfiltered See filtration. Unirrigated See Irrigation.
Varietal is a wine made from one grape variety.
Vatting Term referring to the time that grape must and then wine spends in contact with the skins during fermentation and maceration. See also Cuvaison.
VDP Verband Deutsches Prädikatsweinguter – a consortium of Germany’s leading estates (currently with 200 members) founded in 1910. To qualify estates must have vineyards of recognised quality and achieve higher standards than that required by German wine law. The VDP is also behind a three tier classification model for German wines (see Grosses Gewächs). Members use the VDP ‘eagle’ on their capsules or labels.
Vendange vert See Green Harvesting.
Veraison The point in the vine’s growth cycle where the grapes change colour, the sugar flux to the grape bunches takes place and the fruit ripens.
Versteigerungswein Auction wines, specifically those set aside by German producers for sale at the annual VDP auction.
Vignaiolo Italian term for a vine-grower.
Vignoble A vineyard or close grouping of vineyards.
Vin Doux Naturels French term for fortified wines. These are sweet, achieved by adding fortifying spirit part way through fermentation in much the same way as is practiced in producing Port.
Vin de France The category that covers the production of table wine in France. The odd top class wine is released under the classification to give wine makers more freedom of choice.
Vin de Paille French term meaning ‘Straw Wine’ which comes from dried grapes. Wines are made with varying levels of residual sugar. Traditionally the fruit was laid out on straw mats although grapes are now generally hung and then dried. The wines are a feature in the Jura there has been a small revival in the Rhône.
Vin de Pays Former French category of regional identification for wines that fall outside either the boundaries or regulations of an AC. Now superceded by IGP. See IGP
Vin Jaune Jura wine made from Savagnin grapes aged in old casks under a voile (a film of yeast not unlike Flor that covers Fino sherry) that results in a distinctive oxidised nutty character.
Vinegar is a very sour tasting liquid with high acid levels created from wine and other alcoholic liquids where the ethanol has oxidised.
Vinifera is the vine species, Vitis Vinifera, which accounts for the vast majority of wine producing grape varieties.
Vino de Mesa (V d M) is the classification for Spanish table wines. As elsewhere some impressive wines are made as V d M.
Vinos de la Tierra (VT) is the classification for regional Spanish wines which has been partly superceded by new regulations. See IGP.
Vinos de Licor are traditional sweet wines.
Voile The thin yeast film that develops on Vin Jaune, the speciality of the Jura, is not dissimilar to the Flor that grows on dry Fino and Manzanilla sherries. The powerful tangy wines take on a nutty, oxidised complexity with age.
Volatile Acids These are the acids in wine which are unstable and can evaporate at low temperature and include acetic and carbonic acids. Wines may be referred to as having volatile acidity and have offed aromas similar to nail varnish. See also Acetic Acid.
Warehouse Winery This refers specifically to non-estate based wine operations – often located outside the region or regions where the grapes are grown. In some instances the wines are made at another winery and the premises are simply used to age or store the wines.
Winzergenossenschaft German for co-operative.