Sunday, September 20, 2015


HALBFÜDER (Ger.) An oval cask with a capacity
of 500 liters (132 gallons), more prevalent in Mosel
areas than in those of the Rhine.
HALBSTÜCK (Ger.) An oval cask with a capacity
of 600 liters (159 gallons).
HARD Indicates a certain severity, often due to
excess tannin and acidity.
HARSH A more derogatory term than coarse.
moderation flushes out the cholesterol and fatty
substances that can build up inside the body’s artery
walls. It does this through the powerful antioxidant
properties of various chemical compounds found
naturally in wine (through contact with grapeskins),
the most important of which are polyphenols such
as procyanidins and rytoalexins such as reservatol.
Most chloresterol in the body is carried around the
body on LDLs (low density lipoproteins), which clog
up the arteries. By contrast, HDLs (high density
lipoproteins) do not clog the arteries, but take the
cholesterol straight to the liver, where it is processed
out of the system. The antioxidants convert LDL into
HDL, literally flushing away the cholesterol and
other fatty substances. Together with alcohol itself,
these antioxidants also act as an anticoagulant on
the blood, diminishing its clotting ability, which
reduces the chances of a stroke by 50 percent in
contrast with nondrinkers. (However, I would be
equally as dishonest as the neoprohibitionists who
make phoney health-danger claims if I did not point
out the one true health danger of moderate drinking
that has recently come to light. In 2002, the British
Journal of Cancer published a study demonstrating
that a woman’s risk of contracting breast cancer
increases by 6 percent if she consumes just one
drink per day, and this rises to 32 percent if she has
three or four drinks per day. The report concludes
that 4 percent of all breast cancers are attributable to
alcohol. It is, however, not cut-and-dried. In a
summary of this report, Dr. Isabel dos Santos Silva
of the International Agency for Research on Cancer
wrote “Alcohol intake… is likely to account, at
present, for a small proportion of breast cancer
cases in developed countries, but for women who
drink moderately, its lifetime cardioprotective
effects probably outweigh its health hazards.” And
as Dr. Philip Norrie pointed out, 10 times the
number of women die from vascular disease as
from breast cancer.)
HEAT SUMMATION A system of measuring the
growth potential of vines in a specific area in terms
of the environmental temperature, expressed in
degree-days. A vine’s vegetative cycle is activated
only above a temperature of 50°F (10°C). The time
during which these temperatures persist equates to
the vine’s growing season. To calculate the number
of degree-days, the proportion of the daily mean
temperature significant to the vine’s growth—the
daily mean minus the inactive 50°F (10°C)—is
multiplied by the number of days of the growing
season. For example, a growing season of 200
days with a daily mean temperature of 59°F (15°C)
gives a heat summation of 1,800 degree-days
Fahrenheit (1,000 degree-days Celsius) based on
the following calculation: (59 – 50) x 200 = 1,800
HERBACEOUS A green-leaf or white-currant
characteristic that is usually associated with too
much vigor in the vine’s canopy, which can cause
underripeness. A herbaceous quality can also be the
result of aggressive extraction techniques employed
for red wines fermented in stainless steel.
HERBAL, HERBAL-OAK These terms apply to wines
matured in cask, but unlike vanilla-oak, creamyoak,
smoky-oak, and spicy-oak, their origin is
unknown. A herbal character devoid of oak is
usually derived from the varietal character of a
grape and is common to many varieties.
HERBICIDE A weedkiller that is usually, but not
necessarily, a highly toxic concoction of chemicals.
HIGH-DENSITY VINES Vines planted close together
compete with each other to yield higher-quality fruit,
but less of it per vine, than vines planted farther
apart. Initial planting costs are higher and more
labor is required for pruning, but if the vineyard is
in balance, the greater number of vines should
produce the same overall volume per acre, even
though the output per vine is reduced. Quantity can
therefore be maintained while significantly raising
quality, although there is a threshold density that
vineyards must reach before real benefits appear.
For example, more than half the vineyards in the
New World are planted at less than 800 per acre
(2,000 vines per hectare) and 500 to 600 (1,200 to
1,500 per hectare) is very common, whereas in
Champagne, 2,666 vines per acre (6,666 per hectare)
is the minimum allowed by law, 2,800 to 3,200 the
average (7,000 to 8,000), and 4,400 (11,000)
possible. In pre-Phylloxera times, it was something
like 10,000 vines per acre (25,000 per hectare).
Indeed, before California’s vineyards were
mechanized, the average density of vines was twice
what it is now because every other row has been
ripped up to allow for tractors. When Joseph
Drouhin planted his vineyard in Oregon, he planted
2,980 vines per acre (7,450 per hectare) and brought
over French tractors that straddled the rows of vines,
rather than went between them. All of a sudden,
high-density vineyards entered the American
vocabulary, although Drouhin did not consider them
to be high density—merely a matter of course.
HIGH-TONE A term used in this book to describe
elements of the bouquet that aspire to elegance,
but that can become too exaggerated and be
slightly reminiscent of vermouth.
HOGSHEAD A barrel with a capacity of between
300 and 315 liters (79 and 83 gallons), commonly
found in Australia and New Zealand.
HOLLOW A wine that lacks any real flavor in the
mouth compared to the promise shown on the
nose. Usually due to a lack of body, fruit, or acidity.
HONEST Applied to any wine, but usually to one
of a fairly basic quality, honest implies it is true in
character and typical of its type and origin. It also
implies that the wine does not give any indication
of being souped-up in any unlawful way. The use
of the word honest is, however, a way of damning
with faint praise, for it does not suggest a wine of
any special or truly memorable quality.

ICON A marketing term for a quality category;
INKY Can refer either to a wine’s opacity of color
or to an inkiness of character indicating a deep
flavor with plenty of supple tannin.
IPR (Port.) Short for Indicação de Proveniência
Regulamentada, a Portuguese quality designation
that falls between DOC and VR.
IRON This is found as a trace element in fresh
grapes that have been grown in soils in which
relatively substantial ferrous deposits are located.
Wines from such sites may naturally contain a tiny
amount of iron, which is barely perceptible on
the palate. If there is too much iron, the flavor
becomes medicinal. Above seven milligrams per
liter for white and 10 milligrams per liter for red,
there is a danger of the wine going cloudy. But
wines of such high iron levels should have been
blue-fined prior to bottling.
ISINGLASS A gelatinous fining agent obtained from
the swim-bladder of freshwater fish and used to
clear hazy, low-tannin wines.
JAMMY Commonly used to describe a fat and
eminently drinkable red wine rich in fruit, if
perhaps a bit contrived and lacking elegance.
JUG WINE California’s mass-produced vin de table,
synonymous with carafe wine.
KABINETT (Ger.) The first rung of predication in
Germany’s QmP range, one below Spätlese, and
often drier than a QbA.
KIESELGUHR A form of diatomaceous earth.
LACTIC ACID The acid that develops in sour milk,
and which is also created in wine during the
malolactic fermentation.
LAGAR (Port.) A rectangular concrete receptacle in
which people tread grapes.
LAID-BACK A term that has come into use since
the arrival of California wines on the international
scene in the early 1980s. It usually implies that a
wine is very relaxed, easy to drink, and confident
of its own quality.
LANDWEIN (Ger.) German equivalent of vin de pays.
LD A sparkling-wine term that stands for “late
disgorged” and, paradoxically, means the same as
“recently disgorged.” The use of LD implies that
the wine in question is of a mature vintage that
has been kept on its yeast deposit for an extended
LEACHING A term that may be used to refer to
the deliberate removal of tannin from new oak
by steaming—or when discussing certain aspects
of soil, such as pH, that can be affected when
carbonates are leached (removed) by rainwater.
LEES Sediment that accumulates in the bottom of a
vat during the fermentation of a wine.
LEMONY Many dry and medium-sweet wines have
a tangy, fruity acidity that is suggestive of lemons.
LENGTH A wine that has length is one whose
flavor lingers in the mouth a long time after
swallowing. If two wines taste the same, yet you
definitely prefer one, but do not understand why,
it is probably because the one you prefer has a
greater length.
LIE (Fr.) The French for lees: sur lie refers to a
wine kept in contact with its lees.
LIEU-DIT (Fr.) A named site (plural: lieux-dits).
This term is commonly used for wines of specific
growths that do not have Grand Cru status.
LIGHT VINTAGE A light vintage or year produces
relatively light wines. Not a great vintage, but not
necessarily a bad one either.
HONEYED Many wines develop a honeyed
character through bottle-age, particularly sweet
wines and more especially those with some
botrytis character. However, some dry wines can
also become honeyed, a mature Riesling being
the classic example.
HORIZONTAL TASTING A tasting of different wines
of the same style or vintage, as opposed to a
vertical tasting (different vintages of the same wine).
HOT Synonym for baked.
HOUSE CLARET An unpretentious, and not too
expensive, everyday-drinking red Bordeaux.
HYBRID A cross between two or more grape
varieties from more than one species.
HYDROGEN SULFIDE When hydrogen combines
with sulfur dioxide (SO2), the result is a smell of
bad eggs. If this occurs prior to bottling and is
dealt with immediately, it can be rectified. If
allowed to progress, the hydrogen sulfide can
develop into mercaptans and ruin the wine.
LIME This is the classic character shared by both
the Sémillon and Riesling grape varieties when
grown in many areas of Australia, which explains
why Sémillon from the Hunter Valley used to be
sold as Hunter Riesling.
LINALOOL A compound found in some grapes,
particularly the Muscat and Riesling varieties. It
contributes to the peachy-flowery fragrance that
is characteristic of Muscat wines.
LINGERING Normally applied to the finish of a
wine—an aftertaste that literally lingers.
LIQUEUR DE TIRAGE (Fr.) Bottling liqueur: the mix
of wine, yeast, and sugar added to still Champagne
to induce the mousse.
LIQUOREUX (Fr.) Literally “liqueurlike,” this term
is often applied to dessert wines of an unctuous
quality. (Sometimes also “liquorous.”)
LIQUORICE A quality often detected in Monbazillac,
but may be found in any rich sweet wine. The
term refers to the concentration of flavors from
heat-shriveled, rather than botrytized, grapes.
LIVELINESS A term that usually implies a certain
youthful freshness of fruit due to good acidity and
a touch of carbonic gas.
LONGEVITY Potentially long-lived wines may owe
their longevity to a significant content of tannin,
acidity, alcohol, and/or sugar.
with voluptuous, although more frequently used to
describe an unctuous, sweet white wine than a
succulently rich red.


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