Saturday, March 28, 2015

Read Responsibly - Wine Terminology

Today we're going to play a game. We're going to see how many times my computer restarts while I'm trying to write this post. What do we win? Wine of course! I'll report at the end the number of times I had to stop myself from throwing my computer out the window and we all get to have that many glasses of wine with dinner tonight. You get a post - we all get wine. I don't see how this isn't win-win for everyone.

Based on some discussions with friends I decided it would be smart to follow up my overview of wine with an overview of wine terminology. Upon entering the wine world I found out that it had its own language, which just like the wine itself, can be confusing and overwhelming. In order to not overwhelm you, I'm going to keep this post simple and address (what I consider to be) the vocabulary you need most and some extras thrown in to make you sound smart.

Editor's Note - While I'd love to be full of this knowledge naturally, I'm not, and to make sure no one sues me I will provide references at the end of this post which I consulted. In case anyone wants to sue me, I'm going to point back to the beginning of this post where I reference my ownership of a malfunctioning computer and leave that as evidence to my overall wealth.

Acid: This is not the acid of high school science class kids! Acid has many purposes in relation to wines but the one to remember is that acid plays an important part in the fermentation of wine.

Acidity: Term used to describe a wine; can be applied to red and white wines. Typically describes a wine that comes across as sharp or biting on the tongue.

Aeration (Breathing): The process of introducing oxygen into the wine. Most often applied to red wines through opening the bottle, swirling the wine in the glass, or pouring into a decanter. Aerating a wine is said to open up or release the flavor of a wine.

Balance: Pretty much means what you would think; refers to a wine that is not overpowering in any aspect.

Barrel Aged: Do I have any whiskey or scotch (or even craft beer) lovers in the room?! Y'all will be familiar with this term. Barrel Aged Wine defines wine that has spent time in a barrel before bottling. This can be used in a multitude of ways to change the flavor of the wine because the end result depends on the barrel.

Body: There is the complicated definition and the simple definition for this term. And what is this blog about my dear and faithful readers? Simple. Body refers to the fullness of the wine. It can also be used to classify a wine; light-bodied, medium-bodied, and full-bodied.

Botrytis Cinerea (Noble Rot): This is one of those I'm throwing in here to make you sound smart. It is not a term you're going to hear every day, even when talking about wine, but it is important. While it sounds scary, I assure you it is not. Botrytis Cinerea or Noble Rot is a type of fungus that attacks grapes in cool, humid conditions. It causes that grapes to shrivel and rot but when picked at the correct time during the infestation, can lead to wonderful and concentrated sweet wine.

Cork Taint: Bringing us to our first negative term of the day, we get corked. Cork Taint is used when describing wines that smell musty or moldy because the cork either is the cause of or allowed improper components into the wine.

Decanting: Pouring a wine into a decanter for breathing and presentation purposes; it can also be used to keep the sediments in wine out of the glass.

Early-Harvest: Sounds like what it is; wine that is made from grapes harvested early in the season. These wines tend to have lower alcohol and sugar content.

Estate Bottled: Wine makers use this to describe grapes that are harvested and bottled on the same estate. Indicates that a winery has the equipment on site to make wine instead of them sending the grapes elsewhere for fermenting and bottling.

Harvest: Another easy one; act of gathering grapes.

Late-Harvest: Wine made from grapes harvested late in the season. These grapes and subsequent wines contain more sugar and concentrated flavors so are usually sweeter.

Legs: Ever swirled your wine and then seen veins running down your glass? Those my friends are the legs of the wine. Yes there is a term for that. It is an indicator of two things: the alcohol content and the amount of sugar in the wine; more legs means higher alcohol content and slow flowing legs means a sweeter wine.

Malolactic Fermentation: This is another term that you will not be using every day but if you use it correctly (and with the right people), you will look smart. Malolactic Fermentation is the process of taking naturally present tart malic acid and converting it to a softer lactic acid. It can happen on its own but is usually started by the wine maker dependent on the type of wine.

New World: "Every wine-producing country other than Europe, basically." I quote this from Wine Made Simple by Fiona Sims because it is simple and to the point. It also can refer to producers who introduce new technology to wine making.

Nose: What do you use your nose for? Smelling. As such, the nose of the wine is the aroma of the wine.

Old World: Traditional wine-producing countries in Europe and those who use traditional techniques in wine making.

Oxidized: Wine that has been exposed to oxygen too long and has become vinegary.

Sediment: Particulates in wine that settle during aging; these can occur in the barrel or the bottle.

Tannins: Most often used to describe a dry red wine, tannins actually come from the stems and skins of the grapes. Tannins also cause that puckering or 'sucker punch' feeling you get in your mouth after a sip of dry wine.

Varietal: Used to describe the type of wine. Can also reference a wine that is made from and named after a single type of grape.

Vintage: The year the grapes were harvested.

We're going to stop there for today! This is a very basic introduction to words used in the wine world but should give you a solid place to start. I'll introduce you to more terms as we go!

If there is a topic you'd like me to blog about, feel free to leave a comment or message me privately! While I'm by no means an expert, I'm a few years removed from my own first dip into wine and could use a gentle reminder about what was most foreign to me at the start.

And of course, the moment we've all been waiting many glasses of wine have you all earned for reading through this entire post (to those who skipped to the not pass go and do not collect wine!)? Drum roll please! You have earned 3 glasses of wine!

Thank you for reading my blog! Now go have a fantastic evening and enjoy your wine!

Editor's Second Note - The making of this post was assisted by, Wine Made Simple by Fiona Sims and Basic Wine Terms and Vocabulary by

No comments:

Post a Comment