Weather: Temperature, precipitation and sunshine hours associated with specific events such as a hailstorm. In contrast, climate refers to long-term patterns
Varietal: Refers to a wine labeled with a single grape variety. Used predominantly in the United States and Australia, the term "varietal" denotes a wine named after and made from a single grape variety. For example, "The popular varietal is served in many restaurants" and "The herbal aromas of this Sauvignon Blanc are varietally correct." For varietal bottling, a minimum of 75 percent of that wine must be made from the designated grape variety. The term is frequently misused in reference to a grape variety itself.
Table Wine: Still wines containing 7 percent to 14 percent alcohol. The term is also a quality classification in many European countries, indicating the lowest level of quality: Vin du Table in France, Vino da Tavola in Italy and Tafelwein in Germany.
Sec: French term for dry, not sweet
Racking: The practice of moving wine from one container to another for aeration or clarification, leaving sediment behind.
Palate: The flavor or taste of a wine; also referred to as different sections of taste in the mouth. As the wine travels through the mouth, it first contacts the front palate, then the midpalate and finally the back palate, all which can process different tastes, such as sweet, sour and bitter.
Oak Chips: Instead of gaining complexity in expensive oak barrels during the aging process, some popularly-priced wines are aged with small pieces of wood to gain their oaky flavors. Also called beans.
New Oak: Refers to the first time a barrel is used, when it has the greatest impact on wine. With successive uses, the wood imparts fewer flavors and tannins. Flavors associated with new oak include vanilla, cedar, toast and smoke. The wood tannins in newer barrels add firmness to the wine's structure. As with most components in wine, moderation and balance are key; new oak can be a positive or a negative influence, depending on whether it subtly enhances the wine or overpowers the fruit flavors.
Made and Bottled By: On U.S. labels, this indicates only that the winery crushed, fermented and bottled a minimum of 10 percent of the wine in the bottle.
Lactic Acid: A smooth (not sharp) acid created during malolactic fermentation. This acid is also found in milk
Imperial: A large-format bottle holding 6 liters; the equivalent of eight standard 750ml bottles. The Bordelaise equivalent of Burgundy’s Methuselah
Hard: Firm; a quality that usually results from high acidity or tannins. Often a descriptor for young red wines.
Generic: Lower-quality blends with names like "Mountain White" that are frequently made from inexpensive varieties. New World wines using place names such as Chablis or Burgundy as generic terms have largely disappeared thanks to international trade agreements; understandably, wine producers in those places do not appreciate the use of their name on wines from other areas that may be made from different grape varieties or according to different standards.
Fading: Describes a wine that is losing color, fruit or flavor, usually as a result of age
Early Harvest: Denotes a wine made from early-harvested grapes, usually lower than average in alcoholic content or sweetness.
Decanting : A technique that removes sediment from wine before drinking. After allowing the sediment to settle by standing the bottle upright for the day, the wine is poured slowly and carefully into another container, leaving the sediment in the original bottle.
Cap : The thick layer of skins, stems and seeds that forms at the surface of fermenting red wine. Cap management, or breaking up the cap to increase contact between the skins and the liquid, is important since red wines extract color and flavor from the skins
Bacchus: Roman god of wine
Acid: A compound present in all grapes and an essential component of wine that preserves it, enlivens and shapes its flavors and helps prolong its aftertaste. There are four major kinds of acidstartaric, malic, lactic and citricfound in wine. Acid is identifiable by the crisp, sharp character it imparts to a wine.
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