Sunday, September 20, 2015


PAD FILTRATION A filtration system utilizing a Plate
and Frame filter with a series of cellulose, asbestos,
or paper sheets through which wine is passed.
PALATE The flavor or taste of a wine.
PASSERILLAGE (Fr.) Grapes without noble rot that
are left on the vine become cut off from the plant’s
metabolic system as its sap withdraws into its roots.
The warmth of the day, followed by the cold of
the night, causes the grapes to dehydrate and
concentrate in a process known as passerillage. The
sweet wine produced from these grapes is prized in
certain areas. A passerillage wine from a hot fall will
be totally different to one from a cold fall.
PASSITO (It.) The Italian equivalent of passerillage.
Passito grapes are semidried, either outside—on
the vine or on mats—or inside a warm building.
This concentrates the pulp and produces strong,
often sweet wines.
PASTEURIZATION A generic term for various
methods of stabilization and sterilization.
PEAK The ideal maturity of a wine. Those liking
fresher, crisper wines will perceive an earlier peak
in the same wine than drinkers who prefer mature
wines. As a rule of thumb that applies to all
extremes of taste, a wine will remain at its peak
for as long as it took to reach it.
PEPPERY A term applied to young wines whose
components are raw and not yet in harmony,
sometimes quite fierce and prickly on the nose. It
also describes the characteristic odor and flavor of
southern French wines, particularly Grenachebased
ones. Syrah can smell of freshly crushed
black pepper, while white pepper is the character
of great Grüner Veltliner. Young ports and light
red Riojas can also be very peppery.
PERFUME An agreeable scented quality of a
wine’s bouquet.
PERLANT (Fr.) Very slightly sparkling, less so than
crémant and pétillant.
PERLITE A fine, powdery, light, lustrous substance
of volcanic origin with diatomaceous earth-like
properties When perlite is used for filtration, it is
sometimes referred to as ceramic filtration.
PESTICIDE Literally a pest-killer, but more
accurately a parasite-killer, the term pesticide infers
a highly toxic concoction of chemicals capable of
eradicating parasitic insects that attack the vine,
including larvae, flies, moths, and spiders.
PÉTILLANCE, PÉTILLANT (Fr.) This term describes
a wine with sufficient carbonic gas to create a
light sparkle.
PETIT CHÂTEAU (Fr.) Literally “small château,” this
term is applied to any wine château that is neither
a Cru Classé nor a Cru Bourgeois.
pH A commonly used chemical abbreviation of
“potential hydrogen-ion concentration,” a measure
of the active acidity or alkalinity of a liquid. It does
not give any indication of the total acidity in a wine,
but neither does the human palate. When we
perceive the acidity in wine through taste, it is
more closely associated with the pH than with the
total acidity.
found in the skin, seeds, and stalks of grapes, the
most common being tannin and anthocyanins.
PHOTOSYNTHESIS The process by which light
energy is trapped by chorophyll, a green chemical
in the leaves, and is converted into chemical
energy in the form of glucose. This is then carried
around the plant in special tubes called phloem to
grow shoots, leaves, flowers, and fruit.
PHYLLOXERA A vine louse that spread from
America to virtually every viticultural region in the
world during the late 19th century, destroying many
vines. New vines had (and still have) to be grafted
on to phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks.
PIPE (Port.) The most famous Portuguese barrel, a
Douro pipe has a 550-liter (145-gallon) capacity.
PIQUANT (Fr.) Usually applied to a pleasing white
wine with positive underlying fruit and acidity.
PLAFOND LIMITÉ DE CLASSEMENT. PLC Plafond Limité de Classement, a legalized
form of cheating whereby producers of AOC wines
are allowed to exceed the official maximum limit
by as much as 20 percent.
PLUMMY An elegant, juicy flavor and texture that
resembles the fleshiness of plums.
PLUM-PUDDING A subjective term for a rich
and spicy red wine; a more intense term than
Christmas cake.
POLISHED Describes a wine that has been
skillfully crafted, leaving no rough edges. It is
smooth and refined to drink.
POLISHING The very last, ultrafine filtration of
a wine, usually with kieselguhr or perlite. It is so called because it leaves the wine bright. Many high-quality wines are not polished because the process can wash out natural flavors.
disgorgement and when the wine is consumed.
With the sudden exposure to air after an extended
period of aging under anaerobic conditions, the
development of a sparkling wine after disgorgement
is very different from its development before.
POURRITURE NOBLE (Fr.) Noble rot, which is
caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea under
certain conditions.
PRD Partial rootzone drying, a clever way of fooling
the vine into thinking that it is not being irrigated,
when in fact it is. This is achieved by alternating
irrigation between two separate parts of the root
system. Part of the vine receives a carefully metered
out drip irrigation, but the rest of the plant system
is unaware of this and, not sensing the irrigation,
believes that it is in fact experiencing a mild water
stress. The vine thus diverts its metabolism (energy)
from the leaves to the grape clusters, improving
the quality of the fruit. When the water is drawn
into the part of the vine that has shut down the
metabolism of its leaves, this part of the vine
reverses the metabolic process. This is the very
time that the drip irrigation is switched to that side
of the vine, as it has already accepted the water’s
presence. However, by turning off the irrigation to
the other side of the vine, that side now believes it
is experiencing a mild water stress, and it is its turn
to divert the vine’s metabolism from the leaves to
the grape clusters. And so it goes on, drip feeding
either side of a vine that perpetually experiences
a mild state of water stress. This conserves water,
and while it does not increase yields per se, it
does produce better quality at normal yields.
ROOTSTOCK The lower rooting part of a grafted
vine, often phylloxera-resistant.
ROSÉ This French term has become as anglicized
for pink wine as rendezvous has for appointment.
In most cases, a rosé is made by crushing black
grapes and keeping the juice in contact with the
grapeskins for a short while prior to pressing or by
running off colored juice (saignée). It will have no
discernible tannin content. Champagne rosé is a
rare case where the wine may be made by
blending a little red wine into a white wine.
ROUND A wine that has rounded off all its edges
of tannin, acidity, extract, and so on through
maturity in bottle.
of maceration of juice in grape skins prior to
fermentation, to enhance the varietal character of
the wine. This maceration is usually carried out
cold and is normally employed for aromatic white
varieties, but can be undertaken warm—or even
quite hot for red wines.
PREMIER CRU (Fr.) Literally “First Growth,” this
term is of relevance only in those areas where it is
controlled, such as in Burgundy and Champagne.
PREMIUM A marketing term for a quality category.
So-called premium or premium-quality wine is not as
expensive as you might think, and certainly not the
top category of wine. Because of the differential in
tax, duty, and shipping costs, it is actually possible
to categorize wines by exactly the same unit price
in dollars (US), pounds (UK), and Euros (rest of
Eurozone): Basic: less than $3/£3/ 3; Premium:
$/£/ 5–7; Superpremium: $/£/ 7–14; Ultrapremium:
$/£/ 14–150; and Icon: in excess of $/£/ 150.
PRICKLE, PRICKLY This term describes a wine
with residual carbonic gas, but with less than the
light sparkle of a pétillant wine. This characteristic
can be desirable in some fresh white and rosé
wines, but it is usually taken as a sign of an
undesirable secondary fermentation in red wines,
although it is deliberately created in certain South
African examples.
PRODUCER VINE Vines are usually grafted on
to phylloxera-resistant rootstock, but the grapes
produced are characteristic of the above-ground
producer vine or scion, which is normally a variety
of Vitis vinifera.
PROTEIN HAZE Protein is present in all wines.
Too much protein can react with tannin to cause a
haze, in which case bentonite is usually used as
a fining agent to remove it.
PUNCHEON A type of barrel that is commonly
found in Australia and New Zealand and has a
capacity of 450 liters (119 gallons).
PVPP Abbreviation for polyvinylpolypyrrolidone, a
fining agent used to remove compounds sensitive
to browning from white wines.
PYRAZINES One of the most important groups of
aromatic compounds found in grapes (especially
methoxypyrazines), pyrazines typically have green,
leafy, grassy characteristics through to bell-pepper,
green-pea, and asparagus. The more herbaceous
pyrazine aromas are symptomatic of an excessively
vigorous vine canopy, particularly in red wines.
Although pyrazines become less abundant as
grapes ripen, they are considered a vital element
in the varietal character of Sauvignon Blanc
QbA (Ger.) Germany’s Qualitätswein bestimmter
Anbaugebiete is the theoretical equivalent of the
French AOC.
QmP (Ger.) The abbreviation for Qualitätswein mit
Prädikat. Literally a “quality wine with predication,”
this term is used for any German wine above QbA,
from Kabinett upward. The predication carried by
a QmP wine depends upon the level of ripeness of
the grapes used in the wine.
QUAFFING WINE Describes an unpretentious wine
that is easy and enjoyable to drink.
QUINTA (Port.) A wine estate.
R2 A yeast strain (Saccharomyces cerevisiae race
bayanus) discovered by Danish-born winemaker
Peter Vinding-Diers.
RACKING The draining of a wine off its lees into a
fresh cask or vat.
RACY Often applied to wines of the Riesling
grape. The term racy accurately suggests the
liveliness, vitality, and acidity of this grape.
RANCIO Description of a vin doux naturel stored
in oak casks for at least two years, often with the
barrels exposed to direct sunlight. This imparts a
distinctive flavor that is popular in the Roussillon
area of France.
RATAFIA A liqueur made by combining marc
with grape juice, Ratafia de Champagne being
the best-known.
RD A sparkling-wine term that stands for “recently
disgorged,” the initials RD are the trademark of
RECIOTO (It.) A strong, sweet wine made in Italy
from passito grapes.
REDOX The aging process of wine was originally
conceived as purely oxidative, but it was then
discovered that when one substance in wine is
oxidized (gains oxygen), another is reduced (loses
oxygen). This is known as a reductive-oxidative,
or redox reaction. Organoleptically, however,
wines reveal either oxidative or reductive
characters. In the presence of air, wine is prone
to an oxidative character, but shut off from a
supply of oxygen, reductive characteristics begin
to dominate, thus the bouquet of bottle-age is a
reductive one and the aroma of a fresh, young
wine is more oxidative than reductive.
REDUCTIVE The less exposure it has to air, the
more reductive a wine will be. Different as they are
in basic character, Champagne, Muscadet sur lie, and
Beaujolais Nouveau are all examples of reductive,
as opposed to oxidative, wines, from the vividly
autolytic Champagne, through Muscadet sur lie with
its barest hint of autolytic character, to the amylic
aroma of Beaujolais Nouveau. A good contrast is
between sherry and Madeira, the latter of which is
reductive, while the former is oxidative. The term is,
however, abused, as many tasters use it to describe
a fault, when the wine is heavily reduced.
REFRACTOMETER An optical device used to measure
the sugar content of grapes when out in the field.
REMONTAGE (Fr.) The pumping of wine over the
cap (or manta) of skins during the cuvaison of
red wine.
REMUAGE (Fr.) An intrinsic part of the méthode
champenoise; deposits thrown off during secondary
fermentation are eased down to the neck of the
bottle and are then removed at disgorgement.
RESERVE WINES Still wines from previous vintages
that are blended with the wines of one principal
year to produce a balanced nonvintage Champagne.
RETICENT This term suggests that the wine is
holding back on its nose or palate, perhaps
through youth, and may well develop with a little
more maturity.
RICH, RICHNESS A balanced wealth of fruit and
depth on the palate, and a good finish.
RIPASSO (It.) Refermentation of wine on the lees
of a recioto wine.
RIPE Grapes ripen; wines mature. However, the
fruit and even the acidity in wine can be referred
to as ripe. Tasters should be careful not to mistake
a certain residual sweetness for ripeness.
RIPE ACIDITY The main acidic component in ripe
grapes (tartaric acid) tastes refreshing and fruity,
even in large proportions, whereas the main
acidity in unripe grapes (malic acid) tastes hard
and unpleasant.
ROASTED Describes the character of grapes
subjected to the shriveling or roasting of noble rot.
ROBUST A milder form of aggressive, which may
frequently be applied to a mature product.
A wine is robust by nature, rather than aggressive
through youth.


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