Sunday, September 20, 2015


MACERATION A term that is usually applied to the
period during the vinification process when the
fermenting juice is in contact with its skins. This
process is traditionally used in red-winemaking,
but it is on the increase for white wines utilizing
prefermentation maceration techniques.
covering several methods of vinifying wine under
the pressure of carbonic gas. Such wines, Beaujolais
Nouveau being the archetypal example, are
characterized by amylic aromas (peardrops, bubblegum,
nail-polish). If this method is used for just a
small part of a blend, however, it can lift the fruit
and soften a wine without leaving such telltale
MADERIZED All Madeiras are maderized by the
estufagem, in which the wines are slowly heated
in specially constructed ovens, and then by
cooling them. This is undesirable in all wines
except for certain Mediterranean wines that are
deliberately made in a rancio style. Any ordinary,
light, table wine that is maderized will often be
erroneously diagnosed as oxidized, but there is a
significant difference in the symptoms: maderized
wines have a duller nose, have rarely any hint of
the sherrylike character of acetaldehyde, and are
flatter on the palate. All colors and styles of wine
are capable of maderizing and the likely cause is
storage in bright sunlight or too much warmth.
MAILLARD REACTIONS Chemical interactions
between amino acids created during autolysis
and residual sugar added by dosage, which are
responsible for many of the mellow, complex
post-disgorgement aromas adored by drinkers of
mature Champagne. Maillard Reactions also play
an important role in the raisining of grapes.
MALIC A tasting term that describes the green
apple aroma and flavor found in some young
wines due to the presence of malic acid, the
dominant acid found in apples.
MALIC ACID A very strong-tasting acid that
diminishes during the fruit’s ripening process, but
still persists in ripe grapes and, although reduced by
fermentation, in wine too. The quantity of malic acid
present in a wine may sometimes be considered too
much, particularly in a red wine, and the smoothing
effect of replacing it with just two-thirds the quantity
of the much weaker lactic acid is often desirable.
MALOLACTIC The malolactic fermentation is often
termed a secondary fermentation, but is actually a
biochemical process that converts the hard malic acid
of unripe grapes into soft lactic acid and carbonic
MANURE A very extreme form of farmyardy.
MANNOPROTEIN Nitrogenous matter secreted
from yeast during autolysis.
MARC 1. The residue of skins, seeds, and stalks
after pressing. 2. The name given to a four-ton
load of grapes in Champagne. 3. A rough brandy
made from the residue of skins, seeds, and stalks
after pressing.
MARQUE A brand or make.
MATURE,MATURITY Refers to a wine’s
development in bottle, as opposed to ripe, which
describes the maturity of the grape itself.
MEAN An extreme qualification of ungenerous.
MEATY This term suggests a wine so rich in body
and extract that the drinker feels almost able to
chew it. Wines with a high tannin content are
often meaty.
MELLOW Describes a wine that is round and
nearing its peak of maturity.
MEMBRANE FILTRATION Use of a thin screen of
biologically inert material, perforated with
microsized pores that occupy 80 percent of the
membrane, to filter wine. Anything larger than
these holes is denied passage when the wine is
pumped through during filtration.
MERCAPTANS Methyl and ethyl alcohols can react
with hydrogen sulphide to form mercaptans, foulsmelling
compounds that are often impossible to
remove and can ruin a wine. Mercaptans can smell
of garlic, onion, burnt rubber, or stale cabbage.
MÉTHODE CHAMPENOISE (Fr.) The process in
which an effervescence is produced through a
secondary fermentation in the same bottle in which
the wine is sold (in other words, not transvasage).
This procedure is used for Champagne and other
good-quality sparkling wines. In Europe, the term
is forbidden on the label of any wine other than
Champagne, which never uses it itself.
Méthode Rurale involving disgorgement.
MÉTHODE RURALE (Fr.) The precursor of Méthode
Champenoise, this method involves no secondary
fermentation. The wine is bottled before the first
alcoholic fermentation has finished, and carbonic gas
is produced during the continuation of fermentation
in the bottle. There is also no disgorgement.
METODO CHAMPENOIS (It.) Italian for Méthode
MICROCLIMATE Due to a combination of shelter,
exposure, proximity to mountains and/or water
mass, and other topographical features unique to
a given area, a vineyard can enjoy (or be prone
to) a specific microclimate that differs from the
standard climate of the region as a whole.
membrane filtration.
MICROVINIFICATION This technique involves
fermentation in small, specialized vats, which
are seldom bigger than a washing machine. The
process is often used to make experimental
wines. There are certain dynamics involved in
fermentation that determine a minimum optimum
size of vat, which is why home-brewers seldom
make a polished product and why most wines
made in research stations are dull.
MID-PALATE 1. The center-top of your tongue.
2. A subjective term to describe the middle of the
taste sensation when taking a mouthful of wine. It
may be hollow if the wine is thin and lacking, or
full if it is rich and satisfying.
MILLERANDAGE (Fr.) A physiological disorder of
the vine that occurs after cold or wet weather at
the time of the flowering. This makes fertilization
very difficult, and consequently many berries fail
to develop, remaining small and seedless even
when the rest of the bunch is full-sized and ripe.
MINERAL Some wines have a minerally aftertaste
that can be unpleasant. Vinho Verde has an
attractive, almost tinny aftertaste when made
from certain grape varieties.
MISTELLE (Fr.) Fresh grape juice that has been
muted with alcohol before any fermentation can
take place.
MOELLEUX (Fr.) Literally soft or smooth, this term
implies a rich, medium-sweet style in most areas
of France. In the Loire, however, it is used to
indicate a truly rich, sweet botrytis wine, thereby
distinguishing it from demi-sec.
MONOPOLE (Fr.) Single ownership of a vineyard.
MOUSSE (Fr.) The effervescence of a sparkling
wine, which is best judged in the mouth because
a wine may appear to be flat in one glass and
vigorous in another due to the different surfaces.
The bubbles of a good mousse should be small
and persistent; the strength of effervescence
depends on the style of wine.
MOUSSEUX (Fr.) Literally “sparkling.”
MOUTH-FILL Literally meaning a wine that easily
fills the mouth with a satisfying flavor. There is no
holding back, but it does not quite imply anything
too upfront or obvious.
MUID (Fr.) A large oval barrel with a capacity of
600 liters (159 gallons).
MUST Unfermented or partly fermenting grape
MUST WEIGHT The amount of sugar in ripe grapes
or grape must.
MUTAGE (Fr.) The addition of pure alcohol to
a wine or to fresh grape juice either before
fermentation can take place, as in the case of a
vin de liqueur, or during fermentation, as in the
case of a vin doux naturel.
NÉGOCIANT (Fr.) Trader or merchant. The
name is derived from the traditional practice of
negotiating with growers (to buy wine) and
wholesalers or customers (to sell it).
NÉGOCIANT-ÉLEVEUR (Fr.) A wine firm that buys in
ready-made wines for éleveur. The wines are then
blended and bottled under the négociant’s label.
NERVY, NERVOUS A subjective term usually
applied to a dry white wine that is firm and
vigorous, but not quite settled down.
virtually all the minor, nondescript varieties that
produce bland tasting, low-quality wines, but also
encompass better known varieties such as the
Melon de Bourgogne, Aligoté, Pinot Blanc, Pinot
Meunier, and even classics such as Chardonnay
and Sémillon. The opposite of aromatic grapes,
these varieties are ideal for oak-maturation,
bottling sur lie, and turning into fine sparkling
wines because their characteristics are enhanced
rather than hidden by these processes.
NOBLE ROT A condition caused by the fungus
Botrytis cinerea under certain conditions.
NOSE The smell or odor of a wine, encompassing
both aroma and bouquet.
OAK Many wines are fermented or aged in wooden
casks and the most commonly used wood is oak.
OECHSLE LEVEL (Ger.) A system of measuring the
sugar content in grapes for wine categories in
Germany and Austria.
OENOLOGIST, OENOLOGY Pronounced “enologist”
and “enology” (and usually spelled this way in the
US), oenology is the scientific study of wine. It is
a branch of chemistry, but with practical
consequences, hands-on production experience,
and an understanding of viticulture.
OFF VINTAGE An off vintage or year is one in
which many poor wines are produced due to
adverse climatic conditions, such as very little
sunshine during the summer, which can result
in unripe grapes, and rain or humid heat at the
harvest, which can result in rot. Generally an off
vintage is a vintage to be avoided, but approach
any opportunity to taste the wines with an open
mind because there are always good wines made
in every vintage, and they have to be sold at
bargain prices if a vintage has a bad reputation.
OIDIUM A fungal disease of the vine that turns
leaves powdery grey and dehydrates grapes.
OILY A subjective term meaning fat and viscous,
and often also flat and flabby.
OLOROSO (Sp.) A sherry style, naturally dry but
usually sweetened for export markets.
OPEN-KNIT An open and enjoyable nose or palate,
usually found in a modest wine that is not capable
of much development.
OPULENT Suggestive of a rather luxurious varietal
aroma; very rich, but not quite blowzy.
ORGANIC WINES A generic term for wines made
using the minimum amount of SO2 (sulfur
dioxide), from grapes grown without the use of
chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
ORGANOLEPTIC Affecting a bodily organ or sense,
usually that of taste or smell.
OSMOTIC PRESSURE When two solutions are
separated by a semipermeable membrane, water
will leave the weaker solution for the more
concentrated one in an endeavor to equalize the
differing solution strengths. In winemaking, this is
most commonly seen when yeast cells are put to
work in grape juice with an exceptionally high sugar
content. Since water accounts for 65 percent of
a yeast cell, osmotic pressure causes the water to
escape through the semipermeable cell membrane.
The cell caves in (a phenomenon called plasmolysis),
and the yeast dries up and eventually dies.
OVERTONE A dominating element of nose and
palate; often one that is not directly attributable to
the grape or wine.
ambiguous; as soon as grapes are pressed or
crushed, oxidation sets in and the juice or wine
will become oxidized to a certain and increasing
extent. Oxidation is also an unavoidable part of
fermentation and essential to the maturation
process. In this case, however, in order not to
mislead it is best to speak of a “mature” or, at the
extreme, “oxidative” wine. This is because when the
word oxidized is used, even among experts, it will
invariably be in an extremely derogatory manner,
to highlight the sherrylike odor of a wine that is in
a prematurely advanced stage of oxidation.
OXIDATIVE A wine that openly shows the character
of maturation on the nose or palate. This can range
from buttery, biscuity, and spicy characteristics
through to a hint of nuttiness.


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