Sunday, September 20, 2015


SACCHAROMETER A laboratory device used for
measuring the sugar content of grape juice, based
on specific gravity.
SAIGNÉE (Fr.) The process of drawing off surplus
liquid from the fermenting vat in order to produce
a rosé wine from the free-run juice. In cooler wine
regions, this process may be used to produce a
darker wine than would normally be possible from
the remaining mass of grape pulp because the
greater ratio of solids to liquid provides more
coloring pigment.
SASSY Should be a less cringing version of the
cheeky, audacious character found in a wine with
bold, brash but not necessarily big flavor.
SEC (Fr.) Dry. When applied to wine, this means
without any sweetness, but it does not mean there
is no fruit. Dry wines with plenty of very ripe fruit
can sometimes seem so rich they may appear to
have some sweetness.
fermentation that occurs in bottle during the Méthode
Champenoise. The term is sometimes also used,
mistakenly, to refer to malolactic fermentation.
SEKT (Ger.) Sparkling wine.
rare, intensely sweet, botrytized wine.
the traditional macération carbonique method of
fermentation, in which whole bunches of grapes
are placed in a vat that is then sealed while its air
is displaced with CO2.
SHARP This term applies to acidity, whereas
bitterness applies to tannin and, sometimes, other
natural solids. Immature wines may be sharp.
However, if used by professional tasters, the term
is usually a derogatory one. The opposite to sharp
acidity is usually described as ripe acidity, which
can make the fruit refreshingly tangy.
SHEET FILTRATION Synonymous with pad filtration.
SHERRYLIKE This term refers to the odor of a
wine in an advanced state of oxidation, which is
undesirable in low-strength or unfortified wines.
It is caused by excessive acetaldehyde.
SHORT Refers to a wine that may have a good
nose and initial flavor, but falls short on the finish,
its taste quickly disappearing after the wine has
been swallowed.
SKIN-CONTACT The maceration of grape skins
in must or fermenting wine can extract varying
amounts of coloring pigments, tannin, and
aromatic compounds.
SMOKY-OAK Some grapes have an inherent smoky
character (particularly Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc).
This charcter can also come from well-toasted oak
casks, but may also indicate an unfiltered wine.
Some talented winemakers do not rack their wines
and sometimes do not filter them in a passionate
bid to retain maximum character and create an
individual and expressive wine.
SMOOTH The opposite of aggressive and more
extreme than round.
SO2 A commonly used chemical formula for sulfur
dioxide, an antioxidant with aseptic (antibacterial)
qualities that is used in the production of wine. It
should not be noticeable in the finished product,
but sometimes a whiff may be detected on
recently bottled wine. A good swirl in the glass or
a vigorous decanting should remove this trace and
after a few months in bottle it ought to disappear
altogether of its own accord. The acrid odor of
sulfur in a wine should, if detected, be akin to the
smell of a recently extinguished match. If it has a
rotten egg aroma, the sulfur has been reduced to
hydrogen sulfide and the wine may well have
formed mercaptans that you will not be able to
remove. SOFT Interchangeable with smooth, although it
usually refers to the fruit on the palate, whereas
smooth is more often applied to the finish. Softness
is a very desirable quality, but “extremely soft” may
be derogatory, inferring a weak and flabby wine.
SOLERA (Sp.) A system of continually refreshing an
established blend with a small amount of new wine
(equivalent in proportion to the amount of the blend
that has been extracted from the solera) to effect
a wine of consistent quality and character. Some
existing soleras were laid down in the 19th century,
and whereas it would be true to say that every bottle
of that solera sold today contains a little of that first
vintage, it would not even be a teaspoon. You would
have to measure it in molecules, but there would
be infinitesimal amounts of each and every vintage
from the date of its inception to the year before
bottling. SOLID This term is interchangeable with firm.
SOLUMOLOGICAL The science of soil and, in the
context of wine, the relationship between specific
soil types and vine varieties.
SORBIC ACID A yeast-inhibiting compound found
in the berries of mountain ash, sorbic acid is
sometimes added to sweet wines to prevent
refermentation, but it can give a powerful geranium
odor if the wine subsequently undergoes
malolactic fermentation.
SOUPED-UP, SOUPY Implies a wine has been
blended with something richer or more robust. A
wine may well be legitimately souped-up, or use
of the term could mean that the wine has been
played around with. The wine might not be
correct, but it could still be very enjoyable.
SOUS MARQUE (Fr.) A marque under which
wines, usually second-rate wines, are offloaded.
SOUTHERN-STYLE This term describes the obvious
characteristics of a wine from the sunny south
of France. For reds, it may be complimentary at an
honest basic level, indicating a full-bodied, fullflavored
wine with a peppery character. For
whites, it will probably be derogatory, implying a
flabby wine with too much alcohol and too little
acidity and freshness.
SOUTIRAGE (Fr.) Synonymous with racking.
SPARGING A process in which carbonic gas is
introduced into a wine before bottling, often simply
achieved through a valve in the pipe between the
vat and the bottling line.
SPÄTLESE (Ger.) A QmP wine that is one step
above Kabinett, but one below Auslese. It is
fairly sweet and made from late-picked grapes.
SPICY 1. A varietal characteristic of some grapes,
such as Gewürztraminer. 2. An aspect of a complex
bouquet or palate, probably derived from bottle-age
after time spent in wood.
SPICY-OAK A subjective term describing complex
aromas derived from fermentation or maturation in
oak that can give the impression of various
spices—usually “creamy” ones such as cinnamon or
nutmeg—and that are enhanced by bottle-age.
SPRITZ, SPRITZIG (Ger.) Synonymous with pétillant.
SPUMANTE (It.) Fully sparkling.
STABILIZATION The process by which a heaving
broth of biochemical activity becomes firmly fixed
and not easily changed. Most wines are stablized
by tartrate precipitation, filtration, fining, and the
addition of SO2 (sulfur dioxide).
TERPENE Any one of a class of unsaturated
hydrocarbons that are found in the essential oils
of many plants. Terpenes and terpene alcohols
are responsible for some of the most aromatic
characteristics in wine; these range from the
floral aromas of Muscat to the gasoline or kerosene
character of a wonderfully mature Riesling. In
sparkling wine, a terpene character may indicate
Riesling in the blend, but is more likely to be due
to part or all of the base wine being kept unduly
long in tank prior to the second fermentation.
TERROIR (Fr.) This literally means “soil,” but in a
viticultural sense terroir refers in a more general way
to a vineyard’s whole growing environment, which
also includes altitude, aspect, climate, and any other
significant factors that may affect the life of a vine,
and thereby the quality of the grapes it produces.
TÉTE DE CUVÉE (Fr.) The first flow of juice during
the pressing of the grapes, and the cream of the
cuvée. It is the easiest juice to extract and the
highest in quality, with the best balance of acids,
sugars, and minerals.
THIN A term used to describe a wine that is
lacking in body, fruit, and other properties.
TIGHT A firm wine of good extract and possibly
significant tannin that seems to be under tension,
like a wound spring waiting to be released. Its
potential is far more obvious than that of reticent
or closed wines.
TOAST 1. A slow-developing, bottle-induced
aroma commonly associated with Chardonnay, but
that can develop in wines made from other grapes
(including red wines). Toasty bottle aromas are
initially noticeable on the aftertaste, often with no
indication on the nose. 2. A fast-developing oakinduced
aroma. 3. Barrels are toasted during their
construction to one of three grades: light or low,
medium, and heavy or high.

STAGE A period of practical experience. It has
long been traditional for vineyard owners to
send their sons on a stage to a great château in
Bordeaux. Now the Bordelais send their sons on
similar stages to California and Australia.
STALKY 1. The herbaceous-tannic varietal
characteristic of Cabernet grapes. 2. Applies literally
to wines made from grapes which were pressed with
their stalks. 3. Could be indicative of a corked wine.
STERILIZATION The ultimate sterilization of a very
cheap, commercial wine may be pasteurization or
flash pasteurization.
STICKIES Common parlance for very sweet wines,
usually fortified or botrytized.
STRETCHED This term describes a wine that has
been diluted or cut with water (or a significantly
inferior wine), which is usually illegal in an official
appellation. It can also refer to wine that has been
produced from vines that have been “stretched”
to yield a high volume of attenuated fruit.
STRUCTURE The structure of a wine is literally
composed of its solids (tannin, acidity, sugar, and
extract or density of fruit flavor) in balance with
the alcohol, and how positively they form and feel
in the mouth.
STÜCK (Ger.) A large oval cask with a capacity of
1,200 liters (317 gallons).
STUCK FERMENTATION A stuck, literally halted,
fermentation is always difficult to rekindle and,
even when done successfully, the resultant wine
can taste strangely bitter. The most common causes
for a stuck fermentation are: 1. temperatures of 95°F
(35°C) or above; 2. nutrient deficiency, which can
cause yeast cells to die; 3. high sugar content,
which results in high osmotic pressure, which
can cause yeast cells to die.
STYLISH Describes wines possessing all the
subjective qualities of charm, elegance, and finesse.
A wine might have the “style” of a certain region
or type, but this does not mean it is stylish. A wine
is either stylish or it is not—it defies definition.
SUBTLE Although this description should mean a
significant yet understated characteristic, it is often
employed by wine snobs and frauds who taste a
wine with a famous label and know that it should
be special, but cannot detect anything exceptional.
They need an ambiguous word to get out of the
hole they have dug for themselves.
SUMMER PRUNING Synonymous with green pruning.
SUPERPREMIUM A marketing term for a quality
SUPER-SECOND A term that evolved when Second-
Growth (Deuxième Cru) châteaux, such as Palmer
and Cos d’Estournel, started making wines that
came close to First-Growth (Premier Cru) quality
at a time when certain First Growths were not
always performing well. The first super-second
was Palmer 1961, although the term did not evolve
until some time during the early 1980s.
SUPER-TUSCAN This term was coined in Italy in the
1980s for the Cabernet-boosted vini da tavola
blends that were infinitely better and far more
expensive than Tuscany’s traditional Sangiovesebased
SUPPLE Describes a wine that is easy to drink, not
necessarily soft, but the term suggests more ease
than round does. With age, the tannin in wine is
said to become supple.
SUPPLE TANNIN Tannins are generally perceived
to be harsh and mouth-puckering, but the tannins
in a ripe grape are supple, whereas those in an
unripe grape are not.
SUR LIE (Fr.) Describes wines, usually Muscadet,
that have been kept on their lees and have not
been racked or filtered prior to bottling. Although
this practice increases the possibility of bacterial
infection, the risk is worth taking for those wines
made from neutral grape varieties. In the wines of
Muscadet, for example, this practice enhances the
fruit of the normally bland Melon de Bourgogne
grape and adds a yeasty dimension of depth that
can give the flavor of a modest white Burgundy. It
also avoids aeration and retains more of the
carbonic gas created during fermentation, thereby
imparting a certain liveliness and freshness.
SÜSSRESERVE (Ger.) Unfermented, fresh grape
juice commonly used to sweeten German wines
up to and including Spätlese level. It is also added
to cheaper Auslesen. Use of Süssreserve is far
superior to the traditional French method of
sweetening wines, which utilizes grape
concentrate instead of grape juice. Süssreserve
provides a fresh and grapey character that is
desirable in inexpensive medium-sweet wines.
TABLE WINE A term that often implies a wine is
modest, even poor-quality, because it is the literal
translation of vin de table, the lowest level of
French wine. Yet it is not necessarily a derogatory
term as it may also be used to distinguish between
a light (unfortified) and a fortified wine.
TAFELWEIN (Ger.) Table wine or vin de table.
TALENTO (It.) Since March 1996, producers of
Italian Méthode Champenoise wines may use the
new term “Talento,” which has been registered as a
trademark by the Instituto Talento Metodo
Classico—established in 1975 and formerly called
the Instituto Spumante Classico Italiano. Talento is
almost synonymous with the Spanish term Cava,
although to be fully compatible it would have to
assume the mantle of a DOC and to achieve that
would require the mapping of all the areas of
production. However, it will take all the talento
they can muster to turn most Italian Spumante
brut into an international class of sparkling wine.
TANNIC,TANNIN Tannins are various phenolic
substances found naturally in wine that come from
the skin, seeds, and stalks of grapes. They can also
be picked up from oak casks, particularly new
ones. Grape tannins can be divided into “ripe” and
“unripe,” the former being most desirable. In a
proper balance, however, both types are essential
to the structure of red wines, in order to knit the
many flavors together. Unripe tannins are not
water-soluble and will remain harsh no matter
how old the wine is, whereas ripe tannins are
water-soluble, have a suppleness or, at most, a
grippy feel from an early age, and will drop out as
the wine matures. Ripe grape tannin softens with
age, is vital to the structure of a serious red wine,
and is useful in wines chosen to accompany food.
TART Refers to a noticeable acidity somewhere
between sharp and piquant.
TARTARIC ACID The ripe acid of grapes that
increases slightly when the grapes increase in
sugar during the véraison.
tartaric acid look very much like sugar crystals at
the bottom of a bottle and may be precipitated
when a wine experiences low temperatures.
Tartrates are also deposited simply through the
process of time, although seldom in a still or
sparkling wine that has spent several months in
contact with its lees, as this produces a
mannoprotein called MP32, which prevents the
precipitation of tartrates. A fine deposit of glittering
crystals can also be deposited on the base of a
cork if it has been soaked in a sterilizing solution
of metabisulphite prior to bottling. All are
TASTEVIN (Fr.) A shallow, dimpled, silver cup
used for tasting, primarily in Burgundy.
TbA (Ger.) A commonly used abbreviation of
Trockenbeerenauslese, this category is for wines
produced from individually picked, botrytized grapes
that have been left on the vine to shrivel. The wine
is golden-amber to amber in color, intensely
sweet, viscous, very complex and as different from
Beerenauslese as that wine is from Kabinett.
TCA Short for trichloroanisole, the prime (but by no
means only) culprit responsible for corked wines.
TCA is found in oak staves as well as in cork.
TEINTURIER A grape variety with colored (red), as
opposed to clear, juice.
TOBACCO A subjective bouquet/tasting term often
applied to oak-matured wines, usually Bordeaux.
TOTAL ACIDITY The total amount of acidity in
a wine is usually measured in grams per liter
and, because each acid is of a different strength,
expressed either in terms of sulfuric or tartaric acid.
TRANSFER METHOD Synonym of transvasage.
TRANSVASAGE (Fr.) In what is also known as
the transfer method, non-Méthode Champenoise
sparkling wines undergo a second fermentation
in bottle, and are then decanted, filtered, and
rebottled under pressure to maintain the mousse.
TRIE (Fr.) This term usually refers to the harvesting
of selected overripe or botrytized grapes by
numerous sweeps (tries) through the vineyard.
TYPICAL Overused, less-than-honest form of honest.
TYPICITY A wine that shows good typicity is one
that accurately reflects its grape variety and soil type.


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