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Wineries of El Dorado County

WINE GLOSSARY

El Dorado Home Wine Making
Shingle Springs California

 

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ACETIC
All wines contain acetic acid - (ie: vinegar). Normally the amount in the wine is insignificant and may even enhance flavor. At a little less than 0.10% content, the flavor becomes noticeable and the wine is termed acetic. Above 0.10% content is considered a strong fault. A related substance, ethyl acetate, contributes the smell associated with acetic acid content.
Acidity: The sour or tart taste in wine and other food. The primary natural acid in grapes and wine is Tartaric acid; the second most abundant is Malic acid. Acidity contributes to the keeping ability of fine wine.
Advection Fog: Fog which forms in shallow horizontal layers when warm, moist air is cooled from below, usually by moving over cold water. This type of fog is typical along the west coasts of continents in summer. California is an example.
Aftertaste: The "shadow taste" remaining in your mouth just after swallowing a sip of wine. Important in wine tasting because it can reveal an extra attribute or fault. May be harsh, hot, soft and lingering, short, smooth, tannic, or nonexistent.
Aging: Term describing the storing of wine under certain specific conditions for the purpose of improving the wine. Aging of wines (usually red wines) for long periods in oak barrels adds oak-flavor and makes the wine more complex. Aging of wines (either red or white) in bottles develops a pleasing taste and odor characteristic called "bottle bouquet".
Alcohol: Many different compounds exist in nature which are classed as "alcohols" chemically. In wine only one exists in significant amounts: ethyl alcohol, or "ethanol." Other alcohols, if present, occur only in minute amounts and are usually thought of as flavor components. Ethyl alcohol adds a hot, sweetish taste to wines if present in too high a concentration. Conversely, if its alcohol content is too low, a wine may be thin, unbalanced and lacking in body.
Aleatico: A wine grape usually used for sweet dessert wines because of its pungent, Muscat-like flavor. The Italian Vino Santos are made from this variety.
Alicante Bouchet: A red wine grape, originally from Spain, used in France's Burgundy region to add color to Burgundy blends. Also used in central California for table wines, although generally of lower quality and price.
Aligote: A white wine grape used in various blends in many countries but best known for its fruity, light wines from Burgundy in France.
Alliers: Forested region in central France from which come oak barrels of the same name. The departement of Alliers contains the forest of Troncais. The wood is generally tight-grained.
Altus: A town in western Arkansas for which the state's primary viticultural area takes its name.
Amador: Name of the primary viticultural county in California's Sierra foothills. The area is best known for Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc wines.
American Hybrids: Grape varieties which did not occur in nature but were produced in America by crossbreeding (usually crosses between one or more native American varieties and one or more European traditional wine varieties).
American Wine: Any wine produced in any state from grapes grown in that state or in any other state)s). The term is usually used to denote blended wines of nonspecific origin.
Ampelography: A book which describes the structural characteristics of various varieties of grape vines. Used for identification of vines in the field.
Angelica: A sweet dessert wine, usually amber in color and lacking in distinctive flavor. It is produced from "any variety and every variety" in California because it often is the final repository for odds and ends of leftover lots of wine. Historically sold as a Sacramental wine for Christian communion.
ANGULAR
The total effect of dominant, tart-edged flavors and taste impressions in many young dry wines. Has opposite meaning to round, soft or supple.
Aperitif wine: Any wine served before a meal. Traditionally, aperitifs were vermouths and other similar wines flavored with herbs and spices.
Appearance: A term used in sensory evaluation of wine to describe whether a wine is crystal clear (brilliant), cloudy or contains sediment. It has nothing to do with color.
Appellation controlee (AC/AOC): French wine laws that dictate which varieties can be planted in specific regions, certain production methods, etc. These tight controls are not a guarantee of quality, unfortunately.

The specific area a wine comes from. It can refer to a region, such as Bordeaux or Burgundy in France, for example. California wines from Napa Valley are the most prestigious in the United States. It can refer to an even more tightly defined sub-region within, say, Bordeaux, such as The Médoc.
Appellation: Term used to define the vineyard location where the grapes were grown for a specific wine. A wine whose label states "Napa County" (the appellation) must have been made at least 85 percent from grapes that were grown in Napa County.
APPLEY:
Refers to smell or aroma of a wine, usually carrying additional modifiers. "Ripe apples" describes a full, fruity, clean smell associated with some styles of Chardonnay wine. "Fresh apples" does the same for some types of Riesling. "Green apple", however, is almost always reserved for wines made from barely ripe or underipe grapes. "Stale apples" applies almost exclusively to flawed wine exhibiting first stage oxidation.
APPROACHABLE
Drinkable, easy to enjoy.
Aramon: A European wine grape best known not for its wine quality but for its original use as a parent in producing the hybrid rootstock AXR-1. AXR-1 was the predominately used rootstock in California's coastal counties during the >mid to late 1900's until a new biotype of the Phylloxera root aphid defeated it.
Argols: Name given to raw cream of tartar crystals found in chunks adhering to the sides and bottoms of wine tanks.
Aroma: Smell or fragrance from wine which has its origin in the grape -- as opposed to "bouquet", which has its origin in the processing or aging methods.
Assemblage: The blending together of component wine lots to form a final composite intended for bottling, for aging, for sparkling wine production or some other use by the winemaker. Also used to name the formal membership conclaves of the wine fraternity "Knights of the Vine."
Astringency: Sensation of taste, caused by tannins in wine, which is best described as mouth-drying, bitter or puckery.
Atmosphere: Unit of measure for pressure inside a bottle of sparking wine or Champagne. 1 Atmosphere equals 14.7 pounds per square inch and this is the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level in the world. Commercial sparkling wines commonly contain 4 to 6 atmospheres of CO2 pressure at room temperature.
Aurore: Hybrid grape variety produced in the 19th century by French
nurseryman Albert Seibel and still used, especially in the eastern U.S. for sparkling wine production. Sometimes spelled aurora.
Auslese: German word meaning "selection." In German wine law, auslese has a specific meaning which requires that the wine is made only from selected bunches of grapes, riper than those which were discarded.
AUSTERE
Usually used in description of dry, relatively hard and acidic wines that seem to lack depth and roundness. Such wines may soften a bit with age. Term often applied to wines made from noble grape varieties grown in cool climates or harvested too early in the season.
Australasia: Australia and New Zealand, taken together.
Axil: see leaf axil.
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Bacchus: Roman god of wine. Not to be confused (though it often is) with Dionysus, who was the Greek god of wine before the age of Rome.
Baco Noir: A French hybrid wine variety, used primarily in the eastern U.S. for dry, red table wines.
Bacterial: A tasting term often used by wine judges to describe wines with unpleasant, but ill-defined off odors or flavors.
Baking: In wine this term refers to the process of producing "Sherry" by
deliberately oxidizing a wine through heating and aerating it for a period of several weeks. It is not uncommon for the process to take place over a 4 to 67 week period at 135 degrees F (57 degrees C).
Balance: A subjective term used in wine evaluation. Wine in which the tastes of acid, sugar, tannin, alcohol and flavor are in harmony is said to be in balance.
Balling: The name of a density scale for measuring sugar content in water base solutions. Since grape juice is primarily sugar and water, the balling scale was used for a quick and easy "sugar analysis" of juice. The Balling scale contained a slight inaccuracy however, and it was corrected by Dr Brix. Today the Brix scale is in actual use, but the terms Balling and Brix often are used interchangeably. The Balling (Brix) scale is simplicity itself: Each degree is equivalent to 1 percent of sugar in the juice. For example, grape juice which measures 15.5 degrees on the Balling or Brix scale contains about 15.5% sugar.
Banyuls: The most famous dessert wines of France if Sauternes and Barsac are not included as dessert wines. Banyuls wines are similar to light tawny Port.
Barbera: A wine grape best known for producing red wines in the Piedmont district of Italy. It is also grown in other countries and is used as one of the best red varieties in California's central valley.
Barrel fermenting: The act of fermenting white grape juice in barrels instead of using the more usual stainless steel tanks. Red wines are never fermented in barrels because of the necessity to ferment red wines in contact with the grape skins. It is virtually impossible to move grape skins in and out of a barrel through the small bung hole.
Barreling down: The act of placing a wine into barrels for aging.
BATF: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - the U.S. federal agency which collects alcohol taxes and administers wine regulations.
Baume: A system for measuring the sugar content of grape juice by its density. It is not easy to use though because the numbers aren't easy to handle: Each degree Baume is equal to approximately 1.75% sugar in the juice.
Bead: Colloquial term referring to the bubbles which float on top of a
fermenting wine or champagne in the glass.
Beerenauslese: Literally, "berry selection" in German. Beerenauslese wines are made from grapes that are picked individually rather than a whole bunch at a time. All grapes on a cluster or "bunch" do not normally ripen at exactly the same rates. Berry selection allows the winemaker to make superb wine by insuring that every grape berry is at optimum ripeness. Obviously, beerenauslese wines cannot be cheap (unless they are stolen).
Bentonite: A natural clay which is used in fining white wines for the purpose of correcting heat instability.
Berry: Common name given to an individual grape.
Biblical Wine References: The Bible mentions wine no less than 191 times according to The Commonsense Book of Wine, by Leon Adams. The references in both testaments often admonish the reader to use wine, but use it properly and not to misuse it."Forsake not an old friend, for the new is not comparable to him. A new friend is as new wine: when it is old, thou shalt drink it with pleasure." Ecclesiastes 9:10.

"Wine was created from the beginning to make men joyful, and not to make men drunk. Wine used with moderation is the joy of the soul and the heart." Ecclesiastes 31:35-36."Drink no longer water but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake." Timothy 5:23.
Big: Subjective tasting term which refers to a heavily flavored, often tannic and alcoholic wine.
Binning: Storage of newly bottled wine or Champagne in bins -- for bottle aging prior to labeling and shipping to market.
Bitter: Subjective tasting term. Bitterness usually refers to tannin in wine
and is sensed by taste buds along the sides of the tongue in the extreme rear.
Black rot: Fungus disease of grape vines.
Blanc de blancs: A Champagne term referring to white wine made from white (usually Chardonnay) grapes.
Blanc de noir: A Champagne term referring to white wine made from black
(Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier) grapes.
Blending: Combining two or more wine varieties, wine types or wine lots for
the purpose of correcting (or covering up) some deficiency in one of them.
Also, to improve the final blend by a harmonious addition of some other wine which can add a desirable feature to the combination.
Bloom: The grape flower, or blossom. Also the time of grape flowering.
Bloom: The greyish, powdery film which occurs on grapes in the field, and which contains wild yeast and dust.
Body: A tasting term referring to viscosity, thickness, consistency, or texture. A wine with body often has higher alcohol or sugar content than others.
Botrytis cinerea: Fungus which grows on the skins of certain grapes as they ripen on the vine under specific weather conditions. Called "noble rot" because it can turn ordinary fruit into precursors of great dessert wines.
Bouquet: Smell or fragrance in wine which has its origins in the wine production or aging methods.
Brandy: The alcoholic liquid obtained from distillation of wine.
Breathing: Letting a bottle of wine stand for several minutes to several hours after pulling the cork but before serving it. It is believed that wines which exhibit off odors or tastes when first opened may be improved by air exposure prior to serving. Experienced tastes report that very old red wines are often improved by opening an hour or so prior to serving, but very young wines rarely need air contact.
Brilliant: Sensory evaluation term to describe a wine which is crystal clear and absolutely free from sediment or cloudiness.
Brix: Pronounced "bricks," the unit of measurment of soluble solids (sugar) in ripening grapes. A reading of one degree brix equals one percent sugar in the juice.
Brut: French term referring to the driest (least sweet) Champagne. Always drier than "extra dry."
Bud break: The action of buds swelling and beginning new growth in spring.
Bud: Small swelling on a shoot or cane from which a new shoot develops.
Bung: Stopper for barrels. Bungs are normally made of hardwood (but softer than the oak used for barrel staves to avoid damaging the bunghole when opening and closing the barrel). Recent wine barrel bungs are made of silicone rubber.
Bunghole: The hole in the side of a wine barrel through which the barrel is filled and emptied.
Butt: A "large" wine barrel, usually just over 100 gallons in capacity. "Normal" barrel sizes are approximately 50 or 60 gallons in capacity.
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Cambium: Layer of living tissue under the bark and phloem tissue of a grape vine. New wood cells (xylem) form at the inside of cambium as it grows; new phloem and bark cells form at the outside edge. The net effect is to increase the diameter of the vine.
Cane: The mature (tan or brown, not green) shoot of a vine.
Cap stem: The small length of stem which connects each individual grape berry to its bunch.
Cap: A tiny green cover which loosens, then falls off exposing the pinhead-size ovary and releasing the pollinating anthers of an individual grape flower. When the cap falls off, the flower is said to be in bloom.
Cap: The floating solids (skins and bits of stem) in a tank of fermenting red wine. It binds together forming a thick mat which must be wetted at least daily during fermentation in order to extract the color and flavor.
Capacity: The quantity, as opposed to quality, of grapevine growth and total crop produced and ripened. See also vigor, which is used in contrast to capacity.
Carbohydrate: Class of compounds used for energy by vines. Sugar is the soluble (mobile) form and starch is the insoluble (storage) form.
Carbon dioxide (CO2): A gas that occurs naturally in air. It gives carbonated drinks their bubbles and, as dry ice (frozen CO2), it is used to keep things
very cold. Vine leaves produce sugar from CO2, sunlight and water. This sugar is the ultimate source of energy used by the vine for growth and grape production.
Carbonic Maceration: A process where wine grapes are not crushed but fermented whole. The process is used to make wines which are particularly light and fruity, drinkable very early, but which do not improve with bottle aging. This is the process commonly used to produce "nouveau" wines of the Beaujolais region of France.
Cask: Any wooden container used for wine aging or storage. The term includes barrels, puncheons, butts, pipes, etc.
Catawba: An American hybrid wine grape grown in the eastern U.S. wine regions and used to make sparkling wines, rose and very fruity white wines.
Cayuga White: An American hybrid wine grape grown in the eastern U.S. wine regions, but which produces wines of greater delicacy than Catawba. Used for high quality white table wines and blends.
Central Coast: An appellation located along the coast of California well south of San Francisco and well north of Los Angeles. It refers primarily to Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, although small parts of Alameda, San Benito. Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties are legally included. Although well south of California's "North Coast," the Central Coast contains
major vineyards with the coolest summertime climates in the whole United States!
Central Valley: Common name for the San Joaquin Valley, the largest wine growing region in California. The Central Valley produces 80 to 85% of California's annual wine gallonage.
Centurion: A wine variety developed at the U.C. Davis campus by crossing Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Carignane. The intention was to produce a Cabernet-like wine which could be grown in the Central Valley. Carignane and Grenache are well suited to the Central Valley climate, Cabernet Sauvignon requires a cooler location. It was thought that the result of the cross might retain the quality of Cabernet wine and the viticultural characteristics of the other two varieties. Centurion hasn't yet seen widespread acceptance, but the variety is a definite improvement over traditional Central Valley varieties.
Cepages noble: French term for the group of "greatest grape varieties" used in winemaking.
Chablis: Generic name used in America for common white table wines.
Chablis: Wine region in central France named for the village near its center. By appellation rules, the wines are produced 100% from Chardonnay. Champagne: Sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. By treaty, other European countries may not use the name for their sparkling wines. However, in the United States, the name is permitted to be used for sparkling wines and most producers do so.
Chancellor: A French-American hybrid wine grape grown throughout the eastern U.S. It produces a fruity, medium bodied red wine.
Chaptalization: The act of adding sugar to grape juice or must early in the fermentation to correct for natural deficiencies in poor vintages when grape ripening is slow or incomplete. Illegal in California, chaptalization is permitted by U.S. law and by other nations of the world. Winemakers who are forced by adverse climate to chaptalize NEVER volunteer the fact as it carries with it a "substandard quality" stigma.
Character: A wine tasting term referring to the style of taste.
Charbono: A red wine grape originally from Italy but now grown elsewhere as well. It produces full-bodied, often tannic wines, highly prized by some; yet it hasn't achieved widespread acceptance around the world.
Chardonnay: Clearly the world's greatest white wine grape variety. Chardonnay produces many of the finest white wines, both still and sparkling, all around the globe.
Charmat Process: A process for producing sparkling wine or champagne cheaply and in large quantities by conducting the secondary fermentation in large tanks rather than individual bottles. Eugene Charmat, a Frenchman, developed the process in 1910. It is widely used all over the world.
Chenin Blanc: White grape variety widely planted in many regions of the world. Produces the distinctive Loire wines in France as well as a great number of blends in California, Australia, South Africa and other countries.
Chianti: Medium to full bodied red table wine of Tuscany in Italy. Chiantis are blends, but the primary grape variety used is Sangiovese.
Chloroplasts: Oval, chlorophyll-bearing structures inside the cells of leaves which act as factories to produce sugar for plant growth from CO2 and water. The energy used for this conversion is sunlight, captured by the chlorophyll.
CO2: see Carbon dioxide.
Claret: Common name for the red wines of Bordeaux.
Clarity: In wine evaluation, a subjective term for the absence of cloudiness or sediment in a wine.
Clone: A vineyard or group of vines, all descended from the same individual vine. One vine, found to have especially desirable characteristics, may be propagated by grafting or budding to produce a whole vineyard which is identical to the original vine.
Clos: In France, a walled or enclosed vineyard. The word is now used in other countries as part of a name for a winery or wine label.
Closed-top tanks: Fermentation tanks with permanent tops. These always have doors or vents in the top to facilitate cleaning and for monitoring fermentations.
Cloying: A tasting term meaning the wine is difficult to enjoy because of excessive sweetness which "stays in your mouth" after the wine is gone.
Cluster: A "bunch" of grapes.
Coarse: A wine tasting term referring to an unfinished, rough or crude wine which is difficult to drink.
Cold stable: A wine which can be kept in a refrigerator without forming a sediment or crystals is said to be cold stable.
Compound bud: The normal type of bud which appears at each node along a vine shoot or cane. It contains not one but three separate, partially developed shoots with rudimentary leaves in greatly condensed form. Usually, only the middle one grows when the bud pushes out in the spring. The others break dormancy only if the primary shoot is damaged or other abnormality occurs.
Cooperage: Common term in general use to describe any container used for aging and storing wine. Cooperage includes barrels and tanks of all sizes.
Cork: Cylinder-shaped piece cut from the thick bark of a cork-oak tree and used as a stopper in wine bottles. Cork is especially well suited for this purpose because of its waxy composition and springiness.
Corky: A corky wine has an unpleasant odor and flavor of moldy cork. There is no known way to recover a so-called "corked" wine. Throw it away and open another, especially if you're at a restaurant where they recognize the off flavor and will replace it free.
Cream of tartar: A natural component of grape juice and wine. The chemical name is potassium bi-tartrate. Removed from wine as a by-product, cream of tartar is used in cooking and as a component of baking powder.
Cremant: A category of champagne which contains less carbonation than standard champagnes. Cremant Champagnes are usually light and fruity.
Crisp: Tasting term to describe good acidity and pleasant taste without
excessive sweetness.
Cru: French word for growth. It refers to a vineyard of especially high
quality, such as a classified growth or "cru classe."
Crush tank: Wine tank which receives the newly crushed must -- pumped directly from the crusher.
Crush: The process of crushing and destemming wine grapes just prior to fermentation. "The crush" refers to the autumn season when grapes ripen and are fermented.
Crust: The sediment, often crystalline, which forms inside wine bottles during long bottle aging. It is often brittle and can break into pieces as the wine is being poured.
Cultivar: A current "in" word to mean a cultivated variety. Since it can be misleading and in any case is superfluous, recent texts on viticulture do not use the term. Nevertheless, you still hear it spoken with an impressive voice in the highest circles.
Cutting: A piece of grape vine, usually 10 to 20 inches long, cut from a dormant vine in wintertime for use in propagating new vines in spring.
Cuttings are always taken from last year's growth and are a convenient way to store and handle the vine buds. It is the buds on the cutting which have the ability to begin new vine growth.
Cuvee: A given lot or batch on wine usually held in a single tank or large
cask. Cuvee often refers to a specific blend of still wines which was blended purposely for later champagne making.
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De Chaunac: French American hybrid wine grape named for a pioneer winemaker from eastern Canada. De Chaunac wines can be very good or easily forgotten depending on where and when the grapes were grown.
Decant: Pouring wine carefully from a bottle in which loose sediment would otherwise become stirred up. After decanting, (carefully pouring off the clear wine until only the sediment remains behind, the sediment can be washed out of the bottle. Then the decanted wine can be returned to the clean bottle for serving. Decanting is most often done within 1 hour of serving.
Degorgement (disgorging): Act of removing the frozen plug of ice (containing spent yeast) from a champagne bottle after the riddling. Degorgement takes place on the bottling line just prior to adding dosage and the the final corking of the finished bottle of champagne. See dosage.
Delaware: American hybrid wine grapes grown throughout the eastern U.S. and used for both still and sparkling wine. Delaware is also very pleasant to eat as a table grape even though the berry size is small and the grape contains seeds.
Demi-sec: Champagne term signifying that the product is medium-sweet.
Dessert wine: Any of a class of sweet wines, usually fortified to higher
alcohol content, which are served with desserts or as after dinner drinks. Common dessert wines are Ports, Sherries, Muscatel, Madeira, Tokay and Angelica.
Dionysus: Greek god of wine and revelry. See Bacchus.
Dosage: The few ounces of wine, often sweetened, which is added to each bottle of Champagne after disgorging to make up for the liquid volume lost by disgorging.
Downy mildew: Fungal disease of grape vines which kills the affected tissue. The disease is native to eastern North America and has spread to Europe and most other regions of the world. It does not occur in California because of the low humidity and lack of summer rains.
Drain hopper: A crush tank fitted with a screen to make free run juice separate quickly from the skins and stems in freshly crushed white grape must. By closing the drain valve for a specified time, the winemaker can "macerate" or allow contact between juice and solids for some varieties, if desired.
Drained pomace: In a crush tank, the solids left over after the juice has been drained off. This pomace is primarily skins with a small amount of stem bits.
Dry pomace: In a red fermenter, the solids left over from draining the new wine off after fermentation.
Dry: Whether in a fermentation tank or in a wine glass, dry means the complete absence of sugar in the wine.
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Early Harvest: Not what you would guess; the german equivalent is trocken or halbtroken: These wines are produced in the coolest years when grape ripeness doesn't achieve full maturity. The wines are low in alcohol, light and easy to drink despite having high natural acidity.
Earthy: Sensory evaluation term for wine with a taste or smell reminiscent of soil, mushrooms or mustiness.
EEC countries: All the countries making up the EEC.
EEC: European Economic Community (all the nations of Europe taken together as if comprising one nation).
Egg white: Left over albumin obtained by discarding the yolks from eggs. Used in fining red wines after barrel aging to remove excess (usually bitter) tannin.
Enology: The science and technical study of winemaking.
Estate Bottled: Label phrase (implying quality) meaning that the wine was produced and bottled at the winery from grapes owned (and farmed) by the winery owners. The term has lost its importance recently because of many relaxations of the original, rigid BATF rules.
Esters: Aromatic flavor compounds which give fruits, juices and wines much of their "fruitiness.
Ethanol (Ethyl alcohol): The type of alcohol produced by yeast fermentation of sugar under ordinary conditions. The alcohol in alcoholic beverages is always ethanol.
Extra Dry: In Champagne this term usually means "extra sweet." Only in Sherry can you rely on the term to mean that the wine is really dry. This is one of the confusions which surround wine for no good reason.
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Fermentation: Originally, "to boil without heat." The process, carried on by yeast growth in grape juice or other sugar solutions, by which sugar is transformed into ethyl alcohol and CO2. The CO2 bubbles out of solution, giving the appearance of boiling without heat.
Fermented "on the skins": Statement made about a wine which was fermented with the juice and solids together. Separation and discarding of solids is done only after the fermentation is completed.
Fermenters: Tanks, barrels or other containers when used for fermentations. Fermenters may be used after the fermenting season as normal storage tanks.
Fining: The act of clarifying or removing undesirable components from wine. This is usually done by adding a pure material which has the property of reacting with and removing the undesired component.
Finish: The last impression left in the mouth by the taste of a wine.
Finishing: The last steps in processing a wine before bottling, and may
include bottling. Often, this includes fining, blending and filtration or centrifugation.
Fino: Term found on some Sherry labels to denote the winery's lightest and driest sherries.
Flabby: Tasting term for a wine which is too low in acidity, too high in pH and difficult to drink
Flat: Tasting term. Similar to flabby, a flat wine is lacking in acidity and crispness. Flat wines are difficult to drink and enjoy even if the flavor is good. In sparkling wines flat means the wine lacks carbonation.
Flinty: Tasting term used to describe wine with a hard, austere, dry, clean white wine such as Chablis which has a bouquet reminiscent of flint struck by steel.
Flor: "Flower." A type of yeast which is able to float on the surface of a
wine while growing and fermenting.
Flowery: Tasting term for wine with an exceptionally aromatic character
reminiscent of fresh garden flowers.
Foxiness: Tasting term to describe the smell and taste of Concord grapes and wine, and the smell and taste of similar varieties of Vitis labrusca. I grew up eating Concord grapes and jam -- and I haven't the slightest idea how anyone can describe Concord or Niagara as fox-like or foxy. But they do it anyhow.Free run juice: The juice which separates from must by draining alone (without
pressing).
Fruity: Tasting term for wine which has retained the fresh flavor of the
grapes used in its fermentation.
Fume Blanc: A name that has come to be synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc table wine. The best ones are dry but there are some Fume Blancs which are sweet.
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Gassy: Sensory evaluation term describing a wine which contains residual carbon dioxide left over from the fermentation. Not unpleasant in most white wines, but distinctly undesirable in reds because the CO2 exaggerates their bitterness.
Generic wine: Blended wine of ordinary quality, without any varietal or other special characteristics. Everyday, low price wine.
Green: A tasting term describing the grassy, herbaceous or vegetal taste of wines which were grown in too cool a climate.
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Hard: Tasting term describing a wine which is excessively tannic, bitter or astringent and which lacks fruitiness.
Heartwood: The innermost portion of the woody tissue (xylem) making up the trunk of woody plants, such as grape vines or trees. Heartwood is composed of dead xylem cells which serve to give wood its strength.
Heat summation: A measure of the climate of a growing region calculated by adding the mean temperatures for each day (minus a base temperature) over a growing season. For grapes, the base temperature is 50 degrees F (10 C).
Hectare: Unit of size for farmland in France. One hectare is approximately 2.5 acres.
Hectoliter: Common unit of measure for wines in all European wineries. One hectoliter is 100 liters, 22.03 British imperial gallons or 26.42 U.S. gallons.
Hock: Originally an English term to denote wines which came from Hockheim, Germany. Today the term describes the unusually tall bottle which is used for Riesling and similar wines. Also, hock refers to Riesling and similar wines themselves.
Hot: Taste sensation often found in high alcohol wines. Table wines with hot taste are unpleasant to drink.
Hybrid: In viticulture, a new variety resulting from crossing two other (often very different) varieties.
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Ice wine: Wine made from frozen grapes. The grapes are pressed while frozen and only the juice (never the solids) is used in the fermentation. Ice wines are always sweet, usually light and also delicate.
Ingredient: Any of the components of a mixture. Grape juice is an ingredient of wine but yeast is not, since yeast never remains in the finished wine.
Internode: The section of a grape vine stem between two successive nodes or joints on the shoot or cane.
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Jefferson, Thomas: No wine glossary is complete without this hero of the wine industry. Third president of the U.S., he was a wine lover extraordinaire. Grape grower and winemaker, he went to his grave puzzled that the European grape cuttings he planted did not thrive in the U.S. as they did in Europe. He tried for more than 30 years and finally settled on certain native grape varieties which could stand the harsh new world climate. Jefferson never knew that a microscopic, native American pest now known as the Phylloxera root aphid was killing his European vines. Jefferson believed that table wine is a temperate beverage as opposed to ardent spirits, which he avoided. His was a strong voice favoring low taxes on table wines and high taxes on intoxicating liquor. He is best known to winemakers for his quote: "No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage."
Jerez: Small city in southern Spain (Andalusia). This is the birthplace of
Sherry (Jerez, in Spanish).
Jeroboam: Oversize wine bottle; however, the exact size is not standardized. It may be equivalent to 4, 5 or 6 standard (750 ml) bottles, depending upon the wine producer. In Champagne, France and in California, it is often 3 liters in size; in Bordeaux, 3.75 liters; in England, as much as 4.5 liters.
Johannisberg Riesling: (pronounced rees-ling) Synonym for White Riesling, this grape is responsible for wines of the same name in California. In Australia, wines from the same grape are called "Rhine Riesling." The most famous regions in the world where this grape is grown for wine are along the Rhine and Mosel rivers in Germany. (The name Johannisberg Riesling comes from the fact that
many superb riesling wines have been produced by the Schloss Johannisberg estate near the Rhine river.) Susceptible to noble rot (Botrytis), this grape has produced some of the world's finest dessert wines.
Jug Wines: Common name given to wines sold at modest prices in 1.5 liter size or larger containers.
Jura: Wine region named for the Jura mountains of eastern France (near the Swiss border). Many different wine types are produced in the Jura region although the region is not considered large. Best known of the region are wines from the town of Arbois -- which is also the birthplace of Louis Pasteur. Vin jaune is probably the most typical wine from the area. It is unlike other French table wines in that its flavor is reminiscent of Spanish sherries and vin jaune wine is often very long lived.
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Kabinett: German classification for quality wines ranking just below spaetlese. Kabinett wines are relatively low in price, but sugar is never used in their production (which is an indicator of quality)
Keg: Small barrel for wine aging or storage -- usually 12 gallons in size.
Keuka: One of the finger lakes in New York State's wine country.
Knights of the Vine: Wine brotherhood dedicated to the full appreciation of wine. Founded by (and still headed by) National Grand Commander Norman Gates, Sacramento, CA
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Labrusca: A principal species of native North American grapes. Concord is the purest example currently grown on a large scale in the eastern U.S.
Lactic acid: A natural organic acid which occurs in many foods. In wine, it exists only in trace amounts unless the wine has undergone a malo-lactic secondary fermentation.
Lambrusco: Not to be confused with Labrusca (though it sometimes is).
Produced in northern Italy, Lambruscos are sparkling red wines, usually sweet, light, fruity and pleasant to drink.
Late Harvest: Name given to dessert or full-bodied table wines produced from overripe grapes. (Late refers to time of year, not time of day).
Leaf axil: The acute angle between a vine shoot and a leaf stem or petiole extending from the shoot. Buds develop in these axils just above each leaf petiole
Lees: (Singular, though the word doesn't look like it ought to be); the
sediment which settles to the bottom of the wine in a tank during processing. If primarily yeast, as from a fermentation, it is called "yeast lees;" if sediment from fining, it is called "fining lees."
Legs: Wine appreciation term referring to the colorless "tears" which
continually form along the inside wall about an inch above the surface of wine in a wine glass. Tears are formed more readily by higher alcohol wines than by lower -- the cause being related to alcohol content.
Limousin: Traditionally the favorite type of oak for French barrels in the new world. Its grain is less tight and more open than others, an advantage for Cognac production. The open grain allows oak flavor to become extracted out of the wood quickly, which may be a disadvantage for the more delicate Chardonnays.
Liter: Standard volume of measure in the metric system (used throughout the world for wine). 1 liter = 1.054 U.S. quarts; 1 U.S. gallon = 3.785 liters.
Loire Valley: One of France's larger wine regions located along the Loire river in west-central France. Major districts within the Loire are: Anjou, Muscadet and Touraine.
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ML: Abbreviation for malo-lactic fermentation.
Maceration: The act of soaking grape solids in their juice for certain time periods prior to fermentation of the juice. Often used for Chardonnay production.
Madeira: Portuguese island in the Atlantic from which come rich, sherry-like dessert wines.
Maderization: Oxidation of table wines due to improper (or too long) storage. Maderized wines, both white and red, are recognized by their brown color, lack of fruitiness and oxidized taste. Maderization gives Madeira wines part of their desirable character; but the same character is undesirable in normal talble wines.
Magnum: Oversize bottle, twice the size of a standard 750 ml. wine bottle.
Malbec: One of the five major red wine grape varieties of Bordeaux. Produces excellent wines in Argentina but is little planted in California because of its history of sparse crops there.
Malic acid: A natural organic acid which occurs in ripe grapes in relatively high concentrations. It is the second most abundant organic acid in most varieties.
Malolactic fermentation: A bacterial fermentation which sometimes occurs in new wines after the primary yeast fermentation. Malolactic, or secondary fermentation changes natural malic acid into lactic acid and CO2.
Manhole: Large opening in the side wall of a wine tank through which spent pomace or lees is removed after the wine is racked (drained) off. Cellar workers can enter through the manhole for tank cleaning.
Medoc: (may-doc) Red wine district within the Bordeaux region of France in which are produced many of the greatest red wines of the world.
Meritage is pronounced Meh-rih-TIJ, rhyming with Heritage. This is a made-up word, registered as a US trademark, that wineries must pay to use on their wines.
Back in 1989, wineries were all choosing names for their various blended wines, and it was getting hard to keep track of them all. An association was formed to try to define a "Bordeaux Blend" of grapes that was done on non-French soil. They had over 6,000 people submit choices for the name of this blend, and "Meritage" won. This is a combination of the words "Merit" and "Heritage", and shouldn't be pronounced as if it were French!
What is in Meritage? First off, this can't be a mass-marketed wine. The release of Meritage must be under 25,000 cases. It has to be a "high-end" wine for the winery - it can't be their bargain basement offering. And finally, it has to be a blend of certain grapes. These are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot. There is also a white Meritage, which is far less common. This uses Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle.
How does it Taste?
Just like Bordeaux, since it's made with the same grapes!! There's a rich, full aroma to it. Depending on the particular blend, it can be blackberry, black cherry, spices, chocolate, and vanilla. Most Meritages have the Bordeaux signature flavors - cigar box, rich fruits, with a hefty feel. It's great with a steak, or with game meats - venison, pheasant, or so on! Meritage should be served at 64F for the best flavor.
Meristem: Region of active growth in a vine, made up of meristematic cells which divide to form new cells during growth.
Meristematic tissue: The growth tissue of a grape vine, located in the
cambium, shoot tips, buds, root tips and flower. Meristematic tissue is
composed of thin-walled actively growing cells which form new cells by
dividing.
Merlot: (mer-low) One of the great red varieties of Bordeaux. Also produces fine red wines in California, Chile, Australia, Argentina and in many other regions where it is often blended with its cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Methode Champenoise: The traditional bottle-fermented method for producing sparkling wines, including hand riddling and disgorging.
Microclimate: The localized climate in a specific, small area as opposed to the overall climate of the larger, surrounding region. A microclimate can be very small, as to encompass a single vine, or cover a whole vineyard of several acres or more. Microclimates can be caused by slope of the land, soil type and color, fog, exposure, wind and possibly many other factors.
Mildew: Grapevine disease. Can be devastating but is usually controlled by dusting the vines with sulfur or spraying with organic fungicides.
Mineral ions: Electrically charged forms of minerals, usually occuring in solution in the soil moisture and available for takeup by roots. Some examples used by grape vines are: potassium, calcium, phosphate, boron, nitrate, sulfate, iron, manganese and magnesium.
Mission: The first, and probably worst, of California's long line of wine grapes. Introduced by Spanish Catholic missionaries in the late 1600's.
Muscatel: Wine made from Muscat grapes, usually sweet and usually high in alcohol.
Must: The sloppy mess that results from crushing fresh grapes (before fermentation). Includes pulp, skins, seeds, juice and bits of stem.
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Napa: Town 50 miles northeast of San Francisco; it is at the entrance to Napa Valley, one of California's prime vineyard and wine areas (and now containing over 200 wineries).
Natural: Term used on the label to designate a champagne or sparkling wine which is absolutely dry.
Nevers: One of the types of French oak used for wine barrels. Similar to Alliers in that both come from central France and both woods are tight-grained.
Noble Rot: Common name for Botrytis Cinerea, the famous fungus of more than a few fabulous dessert wines.
Nodes: Slight enlargements occurring at more or less regular intervals along the length of vine shoots and canes. One leaf develops at each of these nodes and a new bud forms in the axil at the node also.
North Coast: A viticultural area in California comprising all the grape growing areas of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Solano, Lake and Marin Counties.
Nose: The odor of a wine, including aroma and bouquet.
Nouveau: Term used to describe a Beaujolais-like wine: Young, fresh, fruity and neither wood-aged nor complex. Nouveau wines are not designed for long aging but are made for prompt consumption.
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Oak: A type of hardwood commonly used for building wine barrels. American oak has a distinctive, bourbon-like flavor but French oak flavor is more subtle. Both types of oak barrels contribute considerable tannin and vanillin (vanilla) flavors to wines during aging.
Oaky: Excessive oak flavor in a wine.
Oidium: French word for the fungal vine disease "powdery mildew."
Oloroso: One of the categories of Spanish Sherry. Olorosos are "bigger" and fuller in body, flavor and sweetness than Fino Sherries.
Open-top tanks: Wine tanks without permanent covers, used only for red wine fermentation. This is the traditional design for fermenters, but modern wineries normally use only the closed-top design. Open top tanks are more difficult to keep clean, allow loss of wine flavor during fermentation and require some type of surrounding building or roof in case of rain.
Ordinaire: From "vin ordinaire," the term means any common wine of everyday quality. Ordinaire is a notch higher than "Plonk" on the quality scale.
Osmosis: The natural movement of fluids through a membrane or porous partition such as a cell wall. Fluid tends to move through the membrane towards a solution of higher concentration so as to equalize the concentrations on both sides of the membrane.
Overcropped: A vine which carries more crop than it can reasonably ripen. Vines which aren't pruned drastically enough tend to set too much crop. Wine produced from fruit of an overcropped vine is always poorer in quality than if the crop were normal size.
Overcropping: The act of allowing vines to set too much fruit (usually by pruning too lightly in winter).
Oxidation: Adverse change in wine flavor, stability and/or color caused by excessive exposure to air.
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Parts per million: A comparative unit of small measure which is exactly as it sounds -- pounds of something per million pounds of something else, grams per million grams, etc. One red grain of sand among a million white grains is one part per million.
Pasteur: Louis Pasteur, the "father of modern winemaking and pasteurized milk," did his famous research at the town of Arbois in France's Jura region. He correctly identified yeasts as the causative organisms for fermentation and developed a heat process (Pasteurization) for stabilizing wine, milk and other liquid foods from spoilage. Pasteur wrote, "Wine is the most healthful and hygienic of beverages."
Petillant: Term describing a wine which is noticeably sparkling or bubbly with CO2 -- but which is less carbonated than champagne.
Petiole: The stem which attaches a leaf to its main branch or shoot. Petioles are well designed for conducting water, sugars and mineral ions between the leaf and the rest of the vine.
pH: A far from simple mathematical term defining the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. pH is used as a measure of acidity in juice and wine.
Phenolics: see polyphenols.
Phloem: Living plant tissue located just beneath the bark and outside of the cambium layer. Phloem cells conduct sugars and other organic materials downward from the leaves towards the trunk and roots.
Photosynthesis: The formation of carbohydrates (sugars) in green tissue of living plants from CO2 and water. The reaction uses sunlight as its energy source and it is catalyzed by chlorophyll.
Phylloxera: Microscopic aphid which lives on vine roots by sucking their juice. Unfortunately this isn't very good for most roots. The aphid kills European wine varieties but native American vine roots are resistant.
Pinot: Family of grape varieties: The most famous member is Pinot Noir, although its white fruited variant, Pinot Blanc, deserves special recognition as well. Incorrectly called "Pinot," the Chardonnay grape is not a member of the Pinot family.

Pipe: A large barrel or cask used for storing, transporting or aging wine, especially dessert wine. Pipes vary in size between about 110 and 140 U.S. gallons.

Political Area: A viticultural area defined by political borders as opposed to geographic or geological divisions.

Polyphenols: Chemical class of compounds which occur naturally in wine, giving it an astringent, bitter or mouth-drying taste sensation. Tannins and grape skin pigments are two prominent classes of polyphenols.

Pomace: The solid residue (primarily skins, seeds and stems) left over from draining juice from white must, or draining new wine from a red fermentation tank.

Port: Any of the rich, sweet, alcoholic and full bodied wines from the Oporto region of Portugal. Other countries also use the term for wines of similar type, but the original name is Portuguese.

Powdery mildew: Fungal disease of grape vines which, unlike most fungal diseases, thrives in dry climates. Also called oidium, it occurs in most of the wine regions of the world. This is the most troublesome fungus disease of grapes in California by far. It can be controlled by timely application of sulfur dust directly onto the vine leaves and immature fruit. New fungicides have been introduced in recent years which greatly improve a vine's recovery from severe attacks.

Precipitation: The sudden formation of solids within a solution, as happens in the fining of wines. The solids normally settle to the bottom as a sludge within a few hours or days and can be easily removed by filtration, centrifuging or, many times, by simply racking.

Press juice: The juice obtained not by draining but by pressing fresh pomace. It is usually far more tannic (often bitter) than drained or lightly pressed (free run) juice.

Press wine: Wine obtained by pressing newly fermented red wine from spent pomace. It is invariably more tannic than free run wine.

Press: The act of squeezing the last remaining drops of juice or wine from pomace. Also, the machinery used to do such a thing.

Pressed pomace: The spent pomace after pressing has removed all the usable juice or wine. Pressed pomace can be sweet or dry, depending upon whether the pressing took place before or after fermentation.

Primativo: Italian grape variety thought to be the closest European relative (ancestor?) of Zinfandel.

Produced: Legal term used by the U.S. governing authority, B.A.T.F., to define the moment when fermenting grape "juice" becomes "wine" legally. "Made," "vinted," "cellared," "perfected" and other similar terms are not as legally restrictive as "produced."

Proof: Scale for measuring and expressing the alcohol content of liquids (NEVER used for wine). The "proof" of a liquor is twice its alcohol content, ie, 80 proof = 40% alcohol. Since wine is always much lower in alcohol than the range commonly used for proof, the term has no use in wine production or on wine labels.

Pruning: The act of cutting off various parts of grape vines, usually in
winter when the vines are dormant. Pruning develops the shapes of vines when they are young and controls the growth, fruit quantity (and therefore, quality) of producing vines.

Pumping over: Act of pumping wine out from a bottom valve of a fermenting tank up onto the top of the fermenting mass in order to keep the solid "cap" of skins wet. This is necessary during fermentation of red wine in order to achieve complete extraction of color and flavor from the skins.

Punching down: The act of pushing the cap down into the fermenting liquid to wet it and facilitate color and flavor extraction. This is the traditional method, but it can only be used for small tanks. Larger tanks are "pumped over."

Punt: The concave indentation in the bottom of certain wine bottles, especially those containing sparkling wine. Several reasons for it may be found in literature: to collect crystals or sediment (this only works if the bottle is standing upright) so that the wine may be decanted easily; to add "apparent size" to a bottle which contains exactly the same measure as a bottle which lacks the punt; to facilitate snobbiness by allowing the sommelier to pour a wine flamboyantly, with his thumb in the punt and the bottle cradled in his other four fingers; etc, etc. Reason # 1 is more correct than the others.

Pupitre : (pup-ee-ter) French name for the hinged, wooden "A-Frame" rack used for riddling Champagne bottles prior to disgorging. (Riddling settles the yeast sediment into the neck so that it can be easily removed.)
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 Quinta: "Farm" in Portuguese. The name on a Portuguese wine label identifies the source of grapes used for the wine.
Rachis: The skeleton of branched stems which gives a bunch or cluster its shape. The rachis isn't obvious when covered with grapes, but very obvious after the grapes have been removed.
Racking: Decanting clear juice or wine from above the sediment in a tank. This is the easiest method for getting rid of solids which have settled to the bottom in a tank. Wine tanks commonly have a built-in "racking valve" placed 20 inches (half a meter) above the bottom valve for use in racking wines during production.
Reduced: Term describing a state which is the chemical opposite of oxidized. In wine, the reduced state is usually recognized by the obvious smell of rotten eggs (hydrogen sulfide, or H2S).
Reims: (pronounced "ranss") Beautiful cathedral city in northeastern France. Along with the town of Epernay, Reims is the center of Champagne.
Residual sugar: Term commonly used in wine analysis referring to the content of unfermented sugar in a wine already bottled. Wine snobs take on a knowing look, lowering their eyes slightly, and call it "the RS."
Respiration: The process whereby plants use oxygen to burn fuel (usually sugar) to create energy for their own growth, development and fruit production. These same reactions are used by animals except that animals take in oxygen through lungs, whereas plants absorb it through leaf pores and by diffusion of dissolved oxygen across membranes in leaves, roots, etc.
Rhine: Famous wine river in Germany. Name given to all German wines produced from vineyards near the Rhine river.
Rhone: Major river in southeastern France, flowing from Switzerland to the Mediterranean. Name given to the wines produced from vineyards along the river.

Riesling: Wine variety; see Johannisberg Riesling.

Rioja: (ri-o-ha) Spain's best and most well known region for table wine
production. Located just south of the Pyrenees mountains (and the French border).

Rose: French word for pink wine, now commonly used all over the world.
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Sack: Shakespearean era name for Sherry wine.

Sapwood: The outer portion of woody (xylem) tissue, located just inside the cambium and just outside the heartwood. Sapwood forms the primary highway for transmission of water and minerals from the roots up through the vine.

Sauternes: Singular, like all those other malicious French words ending in s. A region in south west France which produces fine dessert wines of the same name from the Semillon and Sauvignon varieties. Chateau Y'Quem is the most famous.

Sauvignon (sauvignon blanc): White grape, second only to Chardonnay for table wines in many quarters. Used around the world for its ability to produce fine wines in regions a little too warm for the best Chardonnays. Often blended with its sister variety, Semillon.

Schloss: German word for castle; on a wine label it is equivalent to the
French word "Chateau."

Scuppernong: One of the two major classes of native American grapes. The wines are too pungent in flavor for most wine aficionados. However, the wine still has its followers, especially in the Carolinas.

Sec: French term meaning "dry." (However, on Champagne labels it means that the wine is sweet). Just one of the many pitfalls awaiting the unsuspecting initiate to the world of fine wines.

Secondary fermentation: Fermentation which happens after the primary (yeast) fermentation has been completed. Malolactic is a secondary fermentation which occurs in most red, and some white, still wines. Another secondary is the yeast fermentation which changes still wine into sparkling wine.

Sekt: German word for sparkling wine. (The word "Champagne" is not used on German labels, even for export.)

Semillon: One of the primary white wine grapes of the Bordeaux area (Graves and Sauternes). It doesn't have a large following in the U.S., but it should. Some of my favorite white wines are not the Chardonnay currently in vogue, but Semillon!

Set: The fixing of tiny, newly pollenated berries to the stem. Without set,
the pistil (containing an ovary) would simply dry up and fall off. But after
set, it becomes more firmly attached to its stem and develops into a grape berry.

Seyval Blanc: "French Hybrid" grape variety grown mostly in France and the eastern U.S. The wines can be quite good -- or mediocre. The best table wine I ever tasted that was grown in England was a Seyval Blanc!

Shatter: The drying up and falling of unsuccessfully pollenated pistils leaving a nearly bare stem skeleton (with few berries attached) where a fully populated cluster should be.

Shoot: The elongating, green, growing vine stem which holds leaves, tendrils, flower or fruit clusters and developing buds.

Shot berries: A few small, seedless grapes found in an otherwise normal bunch of wine grapes. The cause is improper fertilization during the blooming period.

SO2: See Sulfur dioxide.

Soave: One of the better types of Italian white wine. Always a blend, the wine is produced in northern Italy. Soaves are especially good when only 1-2 years old.

Soft: Legal term for a wine low in alcohol. Also a term for the taste of a
wine which is low in acidity, flavor, body and which tastes somewhat sweet.

Solera: Spanish system for aging and slow blending of Sherries in barrels. Solera wines are quite consistent year after year because of the blending of many different vintages together.

Sommelier: The (usually) pompous guy in the restaurant who looks down his nose all the time while making it clear that you should've ordered something more expensive from the wine list. A "wine steward" or waiter.

Sonoma: A coastal county north of San Francisco and one of the top wine producing areas of California. Many Sonoma wines are fully as acceptable, qualitywise, as the finest of Napa Valley. Sonoma and Napa Counties have a common border from San Francisco Bay northward along the ridge of the Mayacamas mountains.
Sour: The taste sensation of acid. Not to be confused with bitter, which is the taste of some tannins.
Spaetlese: German word meaning "late harvest." These wines are usually sweet, high in quality and more expensive than ordinary table wines.
Spicey (or Spicy): Tasting term to describe a wine which tastes as if it had spices added during production (it didn't, of course). Gewurztraminer is the wine variety which is most often referred to as spicy.
Spicey: Smell or taste sensation reminiscent of spices. The Gewurztraminer flavor is naturally spicey, especially when grown in cool climates.

Spumante: The Italian word for sparkling wine. Equivalent to sekt in German.

Spur: A shortened stub of cane, usually formed by pruning the cane to a length of only two to four nodes (buds). Spurs are obvious in the spring, after pruning but before new growth obscures the pruners' handiwork.

Stabilization: Any treatment or process which makes a wine stable, ie,
unlikely to suffer physical, chemical or microbial change.

Stalks: The word (in every English speaking country but America) for "stems." In the U.S., stalks means big stuff (like corn stalks). But in England, stalks can be little, too. Grape stems = grape stalks and an American "stemmy" tasting wine is "stalky" wine in England.

Stems: The rachis, or skeletal remains of a grape bunch or cluster after the grapes have been removed. Often during grape crushing the rachis gets broken, allowing bits of stem to remain in the must during fermentation. These bits of stem make up part of the cap in a red fermenter and part of the pomace after the new wine is drained from the tank. Generally, the stems in a fermentation are undesirable because they can supply "bitter" tannin to the
liquid.

Still wine: Wine which is not sparkling, ie, does not contain significant
carbon dioxide in solution.

Stomata: Tiny openings on the undersides of grape leaves through which pass air and water.

Stuck fermentation: A fermentation which stops prematurely and refuses to start up again even though fermentable sugar still remains in the liquid.

Sugaring: Called "chaptalization" in France and most other countries, sugaring in the addition of common sugar to fermenting grape juice or must for the purpose of raising the eventual alcohol content in the wine. Illegal in California, sugaring is usually needed only in very cool climates (or very cool vintages) in which the fruit fails to achieve full ripeness naturally.

Sulfite: The dissolved form of sulfur dioxide.

Sulfur Dioxide: A pungent gas used in wine to inhibit wild yeast growth, to protect wine from air oxidation and to inhibit browning in juice and wine.

Sur lies: French term (and recent, snobbish American term) meaning that the [white] wine was held in contact with yeast lees longer than usual in aging and processing. The result is often a wine with a pleasant yeastiness and more complexity (though sometimes oxidized and bacterial) than ordinary wines.

Sweet pomace: Solid grape residue after the juice is drained off, but prior to fermentation. Primarily composed of skins, stems and seeds.

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Table Wine: Legally defined category of wine which includes all wines with lower than 14% alcohol content. Coloquially, "wine meant to be enjoyed as a food with meals."

Tannin: Natural polyphenolic material which has a bitter or astringent taste, making the mouth pucker. Tannin in wine comes from grape skins, stems, seeds (if broken open) and from wood contact during barrel aging.

Tart: Acidic (used as a pleasant descriptor in wine tasting).

Tartaric Acid: The most prominent natural acid of grapes, juice or wine. The source of "cream of tartar."

Tastevin: A shallow silver (sometimes gold) wine tasting cup originally used in the Burgundy region of France. Now widely used also by sommeliers in restaurants, if only to make them look more threatening.

Tendrils: Stringlike, coiling growth from nodes of grape shoots which support vines by curling around objects. Tendrils are thought of as sterile or undeveloped grape clusters, since the two have a common origin.

Terroir: Earth or soil, used in the special sense of "place," which includes localized climate, soil type, drainage, wind direction, humidity and all the other attributes which combine to make one location different from another. This word is often mis-translated to mean simply "soil type", giving rise to a great deal of further misunderstanding and some argument.

Thief: A type of pipette, used for sampling wine from the top of a tank.

Thin: Term used in sensory evaluation referring to a wine which lacks body, viscosity, alcohol or sugar.

Tirage: (Tir-ah-j) Champagne production term describing the first bottling step of the new wine which will eventually turn it into champagne or sparkling wine.

Topping: The act of filling a barrel or tank to the very top with liquid,
usually wine of the same type and vintage. Contrary to popular belief,
topping adds air to the barrel being topped.

Translocation: Movement of water and nutrients from one part of a grapevine to another.

Transpiration: Loss of moisture from a vine by evaporation through the leaves.

Trockenbeerenauslese: The highest category of nectar sweet and expensive dessert wine produced in Germany. The word means "dry berry selection," which indicates that the raisined berries are individually picked to insure that only fully raisin dried grapes are used for the wine. Luscious.

Troncais: Name of a category of French oak shipped from the Troncais region.

Trunk: The main, vertical body of a grapevine which supports all the top growth.
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Ullage: The empty space above the liquid in a wine bottle (or wine barrel or tank) usually after long storage. Ullage is used as an indicator of how well a cork seals its bottle (in a very old wine, little or no ullage usually indicates that the wine will be sound and unspoiled when opened). Large ullage in an old bottle of table wine is a sure sign that the wine is dead.
Varietal wine: A wine produced primarily from a single grape variety and so labelled.
Veraison: First step in the maturation of grapes on the vine. The first color change from green to purple (in black grapes) or green to lighter green (in white grapes), accompanied by a softening of the texture.
Vermouth: A fortified wine, red or white, which has been flavored by addition of various herbs and barks (originally wormwood). Vermouth is used primarily as an aperitif.
Vigneron: Common French word for winegrower or winemaker.
Vignoble: Common French word for winegrowing area.
Vigor: A measure of quality of growth expressed by a grape vine, as opposed to capacity which measures quantity of growth and development.
Vin: French word for wine (vino in Spanish or Italian); widely used in other languages as well.

Vina: Spanish word for vineyard. Widely used in California as part of the name of a wine property.

Vinegar: Literally, "sour wine." See volatile acidity.

Vinho verde: A specific type of Portuguese wine which is noted for its youth, freshness and newness in the taste. These wines are always best if consumed young without aging.

Vinifera: Scientific name of the primary species of Vitis (vines) used for
winemaking. Vitis vinifera produces nearly all the world's wines (certainly all the world's best wines).

Vinification: Winemaking, including all the operations and processes involved. Somehow if you're talking to an audience, "vinification" seems so much more important than "winemaking."

Vinous: Tasting term to describe the "wine like" smell or taste which is
common to all grape wines, whether varietal or not.

Vintage: The "year" or season of winegrowing. Vintage wine is defined as wine which is produced at least 95% from grapes harvested in a single, stated year.

Vintner: Common term for anyone in the wine business.

Viognier: Grape variety used for white wine blends in the Rhone Valley of France. It has a distinctive, though difficult to describe, character. Expect to see this used more and more in California.

Viticulture: The science, art and study of grape growing.

Volatile acidity (V.A.): The acetic acid or vinegar content of a wine. Used as an index of bacterial activity since volatile acid arises only from microbial spoilage of wines in the presence of air.
 
Weingut: (Vine-goot) A wine producing property in Germany.

Weinstrasse: (Vine-strass-uh) "Wine road" in Germany. A tourist route which connects many wineries in a area. An excellent way to spend part of your vacation in any wine country.

White oak: The variety of American oak which is used for barrel manufacture. Many more white oak barrels are used for whiskey than for wine.

White Pinot: Common name given to any unidentified white wine grape of uncertain parentage (often Chenin Blanc) in California. Anything except the true and classic Pinot Blanc (which no one would ever stoop to calling "White Pinot").

White Riesling: True name of the so-called Johannisberg Riesling or Rhine Riesling grape and its wines. Viewed at a distance in the field, there is a distinctly whitish natural cast on the fruit as if powdered by a Japanese make-up artist. Immediately recognizable, this grape looks like no other on the vine.

Wine Institute: A trade organization of winery members headquartered in San Francisco for the purpose of advancing the business interests of its member wineries. Wine Institute keeps its members constantly informed and advised on the legal and social status of "anything important to the wine industry."

Wine Trade: Common name given to the collective group of retailers,
wholesalers, restaurateurs, wine salesmen and wine producers which make up the "wine industry."

Wine Vinegar: Vinegar which was made from wine -- as opposed to standard, kitchen run vinegar which is usually made from apples, pineapples, pears or any other fruit which happened to be cheap and available.

Wine: Alcohol containing beverage produced by the yeast fermentation of grape juice on must. Wine has a specific legal definition in (probably) all countries of the world.

Winegrowing: One of the most accurate descriptive words in the science of wine, but one of the most misunderstood also. It means that quality in wines is not made in a winery but outside in the vineyard. The grower who merely "grows grapes" tries to maximumize his tonnages and get maximum dollars -- without caring what the eventual use for his crop might be. By contrast, the winegrower tends his crop according to which farming practices will make the best wine. He avoids overcropping, uneven fruit ripening or the use of spray chemicals which could interfere with later fermentation. He works diligently to harvest his fruit as near as possible to the optimum ripeness level for the type of wine intended. He studies the latest viticultural practices and what they may mean to the quality of wine. Most of all, he understands that a winemaker in a winery doesn't improve quality. Either quality is in the grapes or it isn't. The winemaker can only hope to avoid ruining the wine by preserving whatever quality is there. He cannot produce quality wine from poor grapes.

Winemaker: The person in charge of winemaking in a winery. Also called "production manager." The winemaker may be in overall charge of the whole (small) company or only the fermentation, aging and bottling of a single wine in a large winery.

Winery: A place where wine is made. A winery may be made up of one or more buildings or no building at all; a cave or an open air assortment of tanks, barrels or other containers.

Wood tannin: Tannin which came from wood, as in a wine which was oak-aged.

Woody: Tasting term for a wine in which the effectof prolonged (perhaps too much) contact with wood is noticeable.In general, wood tastes exactly as it smells.

Xylem: The woody, center portion of a vine trunk,arm or cane.

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Yeast lees: Solid sludge-like sediment, primarily spent yeast, which settles to the bottom of a fermentation tank after the fermentation is completed. Yeast lees should not be allowed to remain in contact with the wine any longer than necessary. This is because spent and decomposing yeast is the primary source of H2S (the odor of rotten eggs) in wine. This can be confusing: the world's best sparkling wines are produced by deliberately leaving wine in intimate contact with spent yeast in bottles during the secondary fermentation. One answer is in the strains of yeast used and the conditions inside the champagne bottle compared to the tank.

Yeast: Unicellular microorganisms which occur naturally in the air, especially in areas where fruits are grown. Whether "wild" or "cultured," yeast can quickly metabolize natural sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (called fermentation). When all, or most, of the natural sugar of grape juice has been transformed into alcohol, it is said to have been changed into wine.
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Zinfandel: Historically, in most years, the most widely planted and important wine grape variety in California. It is certainly very similar to the variety called Primativo in extreme southern Italy (and to no other present day Europeanvariety). Yet the exact path of its entry into Californiais hidden in obscurity. A flexible grape, Zinfandel can produce virtually all types of wine now produced in California, including delicate white or pink carbonated refreshers, medium bodied "vin ordinaire," "Beaujolais" style nouveau red wines, heavy bodied, aged, rich, red table wines, dessert wines similar to Port and even sweet, late harvest red wines! It is truly amazing that the grape is only sparsely planted in the other warm, dry regions of the world.
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