Saturday, September 19, 2015


ABC An acronym for “Anything But Cabernet” or “Anything But Chardonnay,” ABC was a more than- Acceptable term when originally conceived by Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon. Grahm was selling Cabernet at the time, but saw it as a rut that every California winery was trapped in. He wanted to explore the quality potential of other grapes, particularly the Rhône varieties, but was severely restricted by the public demand for Cabernet and Chardonnay. While Cabernet walked off the shelf, Grahm had to work hard at selling the virtues of anything more exotic. Compelled to sell Cabernet to fund other activities, he came up with the ABC term.
Everyone loved it when Grahm invented it. It has since been hijacked by inverted snobs and myopic critics, however, who have been zealots in their crusade to rid the world of two great wine grapes.
ABV Abbreviation for alcohol by volume.
AC (Port., Gr.) Short for Adega Cooperativa in Portugal and Agricultural Cooperative in Greece,
or other titles denoting a local or regional cooperative in these countries.
ACCESSIBLE Literally that the wine is easy to approach, with no great barriers of tannin, acidity,
or undeveloped extract to prevent enjoyment of drinking. This term is often used for young, fine-quality wine that will undoubtedly improve
with age but whose tannins are supple and thus approachable.
ACETALDEHYDE The principal aldehyde in all wines, but found in much greater quantities in sherry. In light, unfortified table wines, a small
amount of acetaldehyde enhances the bouquet, but an excess is undesirable because it is unstable,
halfway to complete oxidation, and evokes a sherry like smell.
ACETIC ACID The most important volatile acid found in wine, aside from carbonic acid. Small amounts of acetic acid contribute positively to the attractive flavor of a wine, but large quantities produce a taste of vinegar.
ACETIFICATION The production of acetic acid in a wine.
ACETOBACTER The vinegar bacillus (rod-shaped bacterium), which can cause acidification.
ACIDITY Essential for the life and vitality of all wines. Too much will make wine too sharp (not sour—that’s a fault), but not enough will make it taste flat and dull, and the flavor will not last in the mouth.  also Total acidity and pH.
ACTIVE ACIDITY Acids contain positively charged hydrogen ions, the concentration of which determines the total acidity of a wine. The pH is the measure of the electrical charge of a given solution (positive acidity hydrogen buffered by negative alkalinity hydrogen ions). Thus, the pH of a wine is a measure of its active acidity.
ADEGA (Port.) Cellar or winery. Often used as part of a firm’s title.
AEROBIC Occurring in the presence of air.
AFTERTASTE A term for the flavor and aroma left in the mouth after the wine has been swallowed. When the aftertaste is attractive, it could be the reason why you prefer one wine to a similar wine with no particular aftertaste.
AQUIFER A water-retaining geological formation into which rainfall from the surrounding area drains.
AROMA This should really be confined to the fresh and fruity smells reminiscent of grapes, rather than the more winey or bottle-mature complexities of bouquet; but it is not always possible to use this
word in its purest form, hence aroma and bouquet may be thought of as being synonymous

BENCH or BENCHLAND The flat land between two slopes, this term describes a form of natural, rather than artificial, terrace.
BENTONITE This is a fine clay containing a volcanic ash derivative called montromillonite, which is a hydrated silicate of magnesium that activates a precipitation in wine when used as a fining agent.
BEREICH (Ger.) A wine district in Germany, which contains smaller Grosslagen and is itself part of a larger Anbaugebiet.
BIG VINTAGE, BIG YEAR These terms are usually applied to great years, because the exceptional weather conditions produce bigger (i.e., fuller and richer) wines than normal. They may also be used literally to describe a year with a big crop.
BIG WINE This term describes a full-bodied wine with an exceptionally rich flavor.
BIODYNAMIC Wines produced biody namically are grown without the aid of chemical or synthetic sprays or fertilizers and are vinified with natural yeast and the minimum use of filtration, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and capitalization.
BISCUITY A desirable aspect of bouquet that is found in some Champagnes—particularly in well matured, Pinot-Noir-dominated blends (Chardonnay dominated
Champagnes tend to go toasty, although some top-quality Chardonnay Champagnes can slowly acquire a creamy bis-cuitiness).
BITE A very definite qualification of grip. Bite is usually a desirable characteristic, although an unpleasant bite is possible.
BITTERNESS This quality may be an unpleasant aspect of a poorly made wine or an expected characteristic of an as-yet undeveloped concentration of flavors that should, with maturity, become rich and delicious. The term is often applied to tannin.
BLACKSTRAP A derogatory term that originated when port was an unsophisticated product, colored by elderberries and very coarse.
BLANC DE BLANCS (Fr.) This literally means “white of whites,” and describes a white wine made from white grapes. It is a term often, but not exclusively, used for sparkling wines.
BLANC DE NOIRS (Fr.) This literally means “white of blacks,” and describes a white wine made from black grapes. It is a term that is often, but not exclusively, used for sparkling wines. In the New
World, such wines usually have a tinge of pink (often no different from a full-fledged rosé), but a classic blanc de noirs should be as white as Possible without artificial means.

AGES GRACEFULLY Describes wine that retains finesse as it matures and that sometimes may even increase in finesse.
AGGRESSIVE The opposite of soft and smooth.
ALBANY DOCTOR One of Western Australia’s beneficially cooling sea breezes, the Albany Doctor provides similar relief to that of the famous Fremantle Doctor, only farther south and closer to the coast.  also Canberra Doctor.
ALBARIZA (Sp.) A white-surfaced soil formed by diatomaceous (decomposed deep-sea algae) deposits, which is found in the sherry-producing area of Spain.  also Sherry Country.
ALCOHOL In wine terms, this is ethyl alcohol; a colorless flammable liquid. Alcohol is essential to the flavor and body of alcoholic products, thus a de-alcoholized wine is intrinsically difficult to perfect.
ALCOHOLIC This term is usually employed in a pejorative rather than a literal sense and implies that a wine has too much alcohol to be in balance.
ALDEHYDE The midway stage between an alcohol and an acid, formed during the oxidation of an alcohol. Acetaldehyde is the most important of the common wine aldehydes, and forms as wine alcohol oxidizes to become acetic acid (vinegar). Small amounts of acetaldehyde add to the complexity of a wine, but too much will make
a table wine smell like sherry.
AMINO ACIDS Proteins formed by a combination of fruit esters, amino acids are found naturally in grapes and are both created and consumed during fermentation and autolysis. They are essential precursors to the complexity and finesse of a sparkling wine.  also Maillard Reactions.
AMPELOGRAPHER An expert who studies, records, and identifies grapevines.
AMYLIC The peardrop, banana, or bubble-gum aromas of amyl or isoamyl acetate, excessive amounts of which can be produced in white wines if the fermentation is conducted at a very low temperature, and in red wines made by macération carbonique.
ANAEROBIC Occurring in the absence of oxygen. Most maturation processes that take place in a sealed bottle are considered to be anaerobic.
ANBAUGEBIET (Ger.) A wine region in Germany, such as Rheinpfalz or Mosel, that is divided into districts (Bereiche). All QbA and QmP wines must show their Anbaugebiet of origin on the label.
ANTHOCYANINS The second-most important group of phenolic compounds found in wine, anthocyanins are color pigments located in the grapes’ skins.
ANTIOXIDANT Any chemical that prevents grapes, must, or wine from oxidizing, such as ascorbic acid or sulfur dioxide (SO2).
AOC (Fr.) Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée is the top rung in the French wine-quality system, although in practice it includes everything from the greatest
French wines to the worst; thus it is almost always better to buy an expensive vin de pays than a
cheap AOC wine.
APERITIF Originally used exclusively to describe a beverage prescribed purely for laxative purposes, the term aperitif now describes any drink that is taken before a meal in order to stimulate the appetite.
APPELLATION Literally a name, this term is usually used to refer to an official geographically-based designation for a wine.

BOTTLE-AROMAS In Riesling and Gewürztraminer, these are richer aromatics as terpenes develop under anaerobic conditions. In sparkling wine, they are the mellowing aromas created after disgorgement.
BOUQUET This should really be applied to the combination of smells directly attributable to a wine’s maturity in bottle—thus “aroma” for grape-related smells and “bouquet” for maturation-related smells. But it is not always possible to use these words in their purest form, hence aroma and bouquet may be considered synonymous.
BOURGEOIS (Fr.) Cru Bourgeois is a Bordeaux château classification beneath Cru Classé.
BREATHING A term used to describe the interaction between a wine and the air after a bottle has been opened and before it is drunk.
BREED The finesse of a wine that is due to the intrinsic quality of grape and terroir combined with the irrefutable skill and experience of a great winemaker.
BRETTANOMYCES A genus of yeast that can inhabit a winery or barrels that are sold from one winery to another. Brett (as it is commonly referred to) is a common spoilage organism that mainly, although not exclusively, affects red wines. It
creates various volatile phenols, including ethyl- 4-phenol, which is responsible for the “Brett” offodors,
such as the so-called sweaty saddles,
barnyard, stables, and generally horsey smells.
BRUT (Fr.) Normally reserved for sparkling wines, brut literally means raw or bone dry. Even the driest wines, however, contain a little residual sugar.
BURNT Synonymous with baked, and marginally uncomplimentary.
BUTTERY This is normally a rich, fat, and positively delicious character found in white wines, particularly those that have undergone malolactic fermentation.
BUYER’S OWN BRAND BOB for short, this is a brand that belongs to the wine buyer, which could be a wine merchant, supermarket, or restaurant (the buyer is the seller as far as the consumer is concerned)..
BLIND, BLIND TASTING A winetasting at which the identity of the wines is unknown to the taster
until after he or she has made notes and given scores. All competitive tastings are made blind.
BLOWZY An overblown and exaggerated fruity aroma, such as fruit jam, which may be attractive
in a cheap wine, but would indicate a lack of finesse in a more expensive product.
BLUSH WINE A rosé wine that is probably cheap.
BODEGA (Sp.) The Spanish equivalent of the Portuguese adega (i.e., a cellar or winery).

classic varieties are Gewürztraminer, Muscat, and Riesling, and they are defined as such because when ripe they possess high levels of various terpenes in their skins. Although attractive when young, these terpenes take a few years in bottle to
Develop their full varietal potential.
AROMATIZED WINE Usually fortified, these wines are flavored by as few as one, or as many as 50,
Aromatic substances and range from bittersweet vermouth to retsina. The various herbs, fruits, flowers, and other less-appetizing ingredients used include strawberries, orange peel, elderflowers, wormwood, quinine, and pine resin.
ASCORBIC ACID Otherwise known as Vitamin C, ascorbic acid is an antioxidant, which is often used in conjunction with sulfur. It has a more freshening effect than sulfur, which tends to dampen the aromatics in wine. It also enables less sulfur to be used in the vinification process. Not to be confused with sorbic acid.
ASEPTIC A particular characteristic of a substance such as sorbic acid or sulfur dioxide (SO2) that can kill bacteria.
ASPECT The topography of a vineyard, including its altitude, the direction in which the vines face, and the angle of any slope.
ASSEMBLAGE (Fr.) A blends of base wines that create the final cuvée.
ATMOSPHERE A measure of atmospheric pressure: 1 atmosphere = 15 pounds per square inch. The
Average internal pressure of a bottle of Champagne is six atmospheres.
ATTACK A wine with good attack suggests one that is complete and readily presents its full armament of taste characteristics to the palate. The wine is likely to be youthful rather than mature and its attack augurs well for its future.
AUSLESE (Ger.) A category of German QmP wine that is very sweet, made from late-harvested grapes,
and may also contain some botrytized grapes.
AUSTERE This term is used to describe wine that lacks fruit and is dominated by harsh acidity and/or tannin.
AUTOLYSIS The enzymatic breakdown of yeast cells that increases the possibility of bacterial spoilage; the autolysis effect of aging a wine on its lees is therefore undesirable in most wines, exceptions being those bottled surlie (principally Muscadet) and sparkling wines.
AUTOLYTIC With the aroma of a freshly disgorged brut-style sparkling wine, which is not “yeasty” at all, but has a flowery, often acacia-like, freshness.
BACK-BLEND To blend fresh, unfermented grape juice into a fully fermented wine, with the goal of
Adding a certain fresh, grapey sweetness commonly associated with German wines. Synonymous with the German practice of adding Süssreserve.
BACKWARD Describes a wine that is slow to develop (the opposite of precocious).
BAKED Applies to wines of high alcoholic content that give a sensory perception of grapes harvested in great heat—either from a hot country or from a classic wine area in a swelteringly hot year. This characteristic can be controlled to some extent by the following methods: early harvesting, night
harvesting, rapid transport to the winery, and modern cool fermentation techniques
BALANCE Refers to the harmonious relationship between acids, alcohol, fruit, tannin, and other natural elements. If you have two similar wines but you definitely prefer one of them, its balance is likely to be one of the two determining factors (length being the other).
BAN DE VENDANGE (Fr.) Official regional start of grape-picking for the latest vintage.
BARREL-FERMENTED Some white wines are still traditionally fermented in oak barrels—new for
top-quality Bordeaux, Burgundy, and premium varietal wines; old for middle-quality wines and top-quality Champagnes. New barrels impart oaky characteristics; the older the barrels, the less oaky and more oxidative the influence. Barrel-fermented wines have more complex aromas than wines that have simply been matured in wood. Stainless Steel or Oak
BARRIQUE (Fr.) This literally means “barrel,” but is used generically in English-speaking countries for any small oak cask and often denotes the use of new oak. BASIC A marketing term for a quality category;
BAUMÉ (Fr.) A scale of measurement used to indicate the amount of sugar in grape must.
BEERENAUSLESE (Ger.) A category of German QmP wine that comes above Auslese but beneath
Trockenbeerenauslese, and is made from botrytized grapes. It has more finesse and elegance than any other intensely sweet wine, with the possible exception of Eiswein.

BODY The impression of weight in the mouth, which is brought about by a combination of the fruit extract and alcoholic strength.
BOTA (Sp.) A sherry butt (cask) with a capacity of between 600 and 650 liters (159 to 172 gallons).
BOTRYTIS A generic term for rot, but also often used as an abbreviation of Botrytis cinerea.
BOTRYTIS CINEREA The technically correct name for noble rot, the only rot that is welcomed by
winemakers—particularly in sweet-wine areas, as it is responsible for the world’s greatest sweet wines.
also Sauternes,
BOTRYTIZED GRAPES Literally “rotten grapes,” but the term is commonly used for grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea.
BOTTLE-AGE The length of time a wine spends in bottle before it is consumed. A wine that has good bottle-age is one that has sufficient time to mature properly. Bottle-aging has a mellowing effect.
BOB An acronym for “Buyer’s Own Brand,” under which many retailers and restaurants sell wine of increasingly good value particularly in the supermarket sector, in which the selection process has been increasingly honed to a fine art since the early 1980s


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