Saturday, September 19, 2015


DEFINITION A wine with good definition is one
that is not just clean with a correct balance, but
that also has a positive expression of its grape
variety or origin..
DÉLESTAGE (Fr.) Commonly known to anglophile
winemakers as “rack and return.” Délestage is a
process designed to produce softer red wines by
reducing harsh tannins from the grape seeds, and is
particularly successful in areas where unripe seeds
are common due to uneven ripening. The basic
délestage procedure starts after a cold soak of juice
and skins. The juice is drawn off into a separate
tank, allowing the cap to fall to the bottom of the
first tank, where it is left to drain for several hours.
During this time, many seeds are loosened from the
pulp and can be caught by a filter that allows free
passage to the draining juice, which also goes to the
second tank. Once the cap has drained out, the
drain is closed off, and the juice from the second
tank is pumped back into the first tank, where it is
mixed with cap. This process is repeated daily until
all the seeds and their harsh tannins are removed.
DELICATE Describes the quieter characteristics of
quality that give a wine charm.
DEMI-MUID (Fr.) A large oval barrel with a
capacity of 300 liters/80 gallons (600 liters/160
gallons in Champagne).
DEMI-SEC (Fr.) This literally means “semidry” but
such wines actually taste quite sweet.
DENDOMETER A very accurate device that measures
the minute swelling and shrinkage of the vine trunk
in response to water use. It can be used to control
the amount of irrigation water taken up by the vine,
rather than the amount that goes into the ground.
DÉPARTEMENT (Fr.) A French geopolitical division,
similar to a state in the US and a county in the UK.
DEPTH This refers primarily to a wine’s depth of
flavor and secondarily to its depth of interest.
DEPTH FILTRATION The separation of solids from
a liquid solely inside a filtration medium such as
kieselguhr A Rotary Drum
Vacuum or Plate and Frame filter is commonly used.
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH Also known as kieselguhr,
this is a fine, powdered, silaceous earth evolved
from decomposed deep-sea algae called diatoms.
Ceramic filtration, and Polishing.
DIRTY This applies to any wine with an
unpleasant off-taste or off-smell, and is probably
the result of poor vinification or bad bottling.
DISGORGEMENT This is part of the process of
making a bottle-fermented sparkling wine such as
Champagne. After fermentation, the yeast forms a
deposit, which must be removed. To allow for this
removal, the bottles are inverted in a freezing brine
for just long enough for the sediment to form a
semifrozen slush that adheres to the neck of the
bottle. This enables the bottle to be reinverted
without disturbing the wine. The temporary cap
used to seal the bottle is removed and the internal
pressure is sufficient to eject or “disgorge” the
slush of sediment without losing very much wine at
all. The wine is then topped off and a traditional
Champagne cork is used to seal the bottle.
DISTINCTIVE Describes a wine with a positive
character. All fine wines are distinctive to some
degree or other, but not all distinctive wines are
necessarily fine.
DIURNAL DIFFERENCE In viticulture, any reference
to a diurnal or daily difference will invariably be a
reference to temperature, comparing the highest
daytime temperature with the lowest nighttime
temperature—the greater the difference, the better
the grapes’ acidity retention. There can be a wide
diurnal difference in relatively cool wine areas,
such as Champagne, as well as in essentially hot
ones, such as Idaho.
DO (Sp.) This stands for Spain’s Denominación de
Origen, which is theoretically the equivalent of the
French AOC.
DOBLE PASTA (Sp.) Red wines macerated with
double the normal proportion of grape skins to
juice during fermentation.
DOC (It., Port.) Short for Italy’s Denominazione di
Origine Controllata and Portugal’s Denominação
de Origem Controlada, which are theoretically the
equivalent of the French AOC.
DOCa (Sp.) Abbreviation for Spain’s Denominación
de Origen Calificada, which is the equivalent of
the Italian DOCG.
DOCG (It.) Italy’s Denominazione di Origine
Controllata e Garantita is theoretically one step
above the French AOC. Ideally it should be similar
to, say, a Premier or Grand Cru in Burgundy or a
Cru Classé in Bordeaux, but in reality, it is almost as
big a sop as Italy’s Denominazione di Origine
Controllata itself.
DOPPELSTÜCK (Ger.) A very large oval cask with
a capacity of 2,400 liters (635 gallons).
DOSAGE (Fr.) Sugar added to a sparkling wine after
disgorgement, the amounts of which are controlled
by the terminology used on the label—brut, demisec,
and so on.
DOUX (Fr.) Sweet, as applied to wines.
DRIP IRRIGATION Various forms exist, but at its
most sophisticated, this is a computer-controlled
watering system programmed with the vine’s
general water requirement and constantly amended
by a continuous flow of data from soil sensors.
The water is supplied literally drip-by-drip through
a complex system of pipes with metered valves.
.DRYING UP Describes a wine that has dried up
and lost some of its freshness and fruit through
aging in the bottle. It may still be enjoyable, but
remaining bottles should not be kept long.
DUPLEX SOILS So-called when two contrasting
soil textures are found layered, with a sharp divide
between the two. Duplex soils usually consist

of a coarse soil over a fine-grained soil, and are
commonly found in Western Australia, where they
are invariably sand over clay. They are categorized
by color (red, yellow, brown, dark, and gray
duplex soils) based on the color of the subsoil, not
the topsoil.
DUSTY Akin to “peppery” in a red wine; a blurring
of varietal definition in a white wine
EARTH FILTRATION This term can be synonymous
with depth filtration.
EARTHY Describes a drying impression in the
mouth. Some wines can be enjoyably earthy, but
the finest-quality wines should be as clean as a
whistle. When a wine is very earthy, it is usually
due to a preponderance of geosmin, which can
occur naturally in grapes, but in excess can give
a wine a corked taste.
EASY This term is to a certain extent synonymous
with accessible, but probably implies a cheaper,
value-for-money wine, whereas “accessible” often
applies to finer wines.
EAU-DE-VIE (Fr.) Literally, “water of life”;
specifically, a grape-derived spirit.
EDELFÄULE (Ger.) The German term for noble rot;
EDELKEUR (S. Afr.) The South African term for
noble rot.
EDGE Almost, but not quite, synonymous with
grip; wine can have an edge of bitterness or
tannin. Edge usually implies that a wine has the
capacity to develop, while grip may be applied to
a wine in various stages of development, including
fully mature wine.
EDGY Synonymous with nervy or “nervous.”
EGG WHITE A traditional fining agent that fines
out negatively charged matter.
EINZELLAGE (Ger.) A single-vineyard wine area;
the smallest geographical unit allowed under
German wine law.
EISWEIN (Ger.) Originally a German concept but
now used in the New World as well, this rare wine
resulted from the tradition of leaving grapes on the
vine in the hope of attracting Botrytis cinerea. The
grapes are then frozen by frost or snow, harvested,
and pressed while frozen. They are pressed while
still frozen because the frozen ice rises to the top
of the vat and it can be scraped off to leave a
concentrated juice that produces a wine with a
unique balance of sweetness, acidity, and extract.
ELEGANT A subjective term applied to wines that
may also be termed “stylish” or “possessing finesse.”
ELEVATED FRUIT Synonymous with VA lift.
ÉLEVÉ EN FÛTS DE CHÊNE Aged in oak barrels.
ELEVEUR, ÉLEVAGE (Fr.) Literally “bringing up” or
“raising” the wine. Both terms refer to the traditional
function of a négociant: namely to buy ready-made
wines after the harvest and take care of them until
they are ready to be bottled and sold. The task
involves racking the wines and blending them into
a marketable product as each house sees fit.
EMBRYO BUNCHES In spring, the vine develops
little clusters of miniature green berries that will
form a bloom a few weeks later. If a berry
successfully flowers, it is capable of developing
into a grape. The embryo bunch is thus an
indication of the potential size of the crop.
EN PRIMEUR (Fr.) Classic wines such as Bordeaux
are offered for sale en primeur, which is to say
within a year of the harvest, before the final blending
and bottling has taken place. For experienced buyers
given the opportunity to taste, this is a calculated risk
and the price should reflect this element of chance.
ENCÉPAGEMENT (Fr.) The relative proportions of
the grape varieties in a blend.
ENOLOGIST, ENOLOGY (Am.) Spelling of
oenologist, oenology often used in the US.
ENTRY-LEVEL WINE From the producer’s point of
view, this will be his cheapest, most basic quality
of wine. From a critic’s point of view, this will be
the cheapest wine worth buying.
ENZYME A protein produced by living organisms
(anything from yeast cells to human beings) that
functions as a biochemical catalyst.
ESTERS Sweet-smelling compounds, formed
during fermentation and throughout maturation,
that contribute to a wine’s aroma and bouquet.
ESTUFAGEM (Port.) The process whereby Madeira
is heated in ovens called estufas, then cooled.
ETHANOIC ACID Synonymous with acetic acid.
ETHANOL Synonymous with ethyl alcohol.
ETHYL ALCOHOL This main alcohol in wine is
so important in quantitative terms that to speak
of a wine’s alcohol is to refer purely to its ethyl
alcohol content.
EU LOT NUMBER Proposed by an EC directive in
1989 and implemented by all member states of the
Community by 1992, this Lot Number must be
indicated on every bottle of wine produced in or
sold to the EU. Should a wine have to be removed
from general distribution for any reason, this code
can save unnecessary waste by pinpointing the
shipment involved.
EVERYDAY WINES These are inexpensive, easydrinking
EX-CELLARS Wines offered en primeur are usually
purchased “ex-cellars”; the cost of shipping the
wine to the importer’s cellars is extra, on top of
which any duty and taxes will be added.
EXPANSIVE Describes a wine that is big, but open
and accessible.
EXPRESSIVE A wine that is expressive is true to its
grape variety and area of origin.
EXTRACT Sugar-free soluble solids that give body
to a wine. The term covers everything from
proteins and vitamins to tannins, calcium, and


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