Wine Terms

by Female Abroad

With plans of heading into wine country, I figured I'd look up all the terms I here tossed about but have no idea what they mean plus a few that I know to help you with your wine tasting adventures. If there is anything missing you think need to be added just drop us a line!

Acidity: tartness of a grape

Appellation: geographical wine region

Biodynamic Viticulture: a type of organic grape growing where growers avoid artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides by making their own compost and by cultivating beneficial bacterial in the soil. If you are a vegan you may want to steer clear as this bacteria is usually grown in stag bladders.

Botrytis: fungus; can either dehydrate the grapes or rot them

Brix: a way to measure sugar in grapes

Capping: during red wine fermentation the skins are floated to the top due to escaping carbon dioxide

Clone: mutation of the grape species

Cold Soak: step before fermentation where the grapes are crushed and then cooled for several days before fermentation begins

Commercial Winery: a winery with a commercial license and therefore is allowed to bottle & sell wine

Corked Wine: wine that is chemically contaminated with TCA (2, 4, 6-Trichloroanisole) due to a faulty cork but sometimes due to the barrel or if wood in the cellar is cleaned with chlorine. Usually gives a musty, old taste which is why a lot of wineries are moving to screw cap or synthetic corks.

Estate Winery: a winery with it's own vineyards that are at least 8 hectares large

Farm Gate Winery / Land-Based Winery: term for wineries that are too small to be an Estate Winery but usually grown some of the fruit they need for their wine

Fermentation: the process in which yeast converts sugar to alcohol

Flinty: a wine that tastes crisp with a mineral edge Fruit Wine: a wine made from fruit that isn't grape

Grassy / Herbaceous: a wine that tastes zesty and clean with hints of grapefruit or gooseberry

Hybrid: grape types developed by crossbreeding a European grape with a North American grape

Labrusca: grapes that are native to North America but not suitable as table wines (ex. Concord grape used for juice)

Maceration: letting the crushed grapes with the skins in the juice to draw out the colour from the skins (usually done to red wines)

Maderize: when wines pickup oxygen as they age which give them a flavour resembling Madeira (an aged Spanish wine)

Meritage: created to identify different Bordeaux grape types White Mertiage

- a blend of Sauv Blanc and Semillion Red Mertiage

- a blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc sometimes Malbec, Petit Verdot, and / or Carmenere is added

Micro-Oxygenation: small quantities of air bubbles are deliberately pumped into vats of fermenting red wine to help with a healthier fermentation making the taste softer plus ready to drink earlier

Must: unfermented grape pulp or juice

Old Vines: wines with grapes made from vines that are at least 25 years old as the flavour is more intense

Organic: fruit grown without chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers

Oxidized: wines that have been exposed to air for too long

Pump Over: when red wine is "capped" more wine is pumped in submerge the skins to prevent bacteria from growing on the cap and to also keep the colour and flavour intact

Screw caps: screw on caps instead of corks which helps keep a better closure but annoys traditionalists who like the corks

Spitting: tasters and workers who are not allowed to get drunk (or don't want to be drunk) yet still taste the wines are allowed to spit out wines into provided spittoons

Stelvin: trademarked name for a screw cap closure

Tannin: a substance in the skin and seeds of grapes that give red wine it acidity

Terrior: encompasses the entire growing environment from soil to climate to exposure of a vineyard

Toasty: slightly burnt taste

Varietal: a wine that has it's main grape variety on it's label (ex. a wine listed as Chardonnay is made with Chardonnay grapes) and must be no less 85% of the blend

Vinifera: grapes that are from Europe but not being grown in Europe