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Wine Glossary

  • Aging: Allows flavors and aromas of the wine to develop and mature prior to bottling.
  • Appellation: Generally, the area where grapes are grown and made into wine. Examples: Bordeaux, Sonoma. In the U. S. an appellation is a state, county, or other legal geographic area. To be labeled with a specific U.S. appellation, 75% of the wine's grapes must come from the area. California law requires 100% of the grapes to be grown in the state for a wine to be labeled "California."
  • Aroma: Smells that are directly related to the odor of the fresh wine grape.
  • Balance: Harmony among wine's components -- fruit, acidity, tannins, alcohol. Great wines have balance. Also known as "integration."
  • Body: Perceived weight of the wine, sensation of fullness. The density of a wine on the palate -- either light, medium, or full.
  • Bouquet: Smells that result from the fermentation or aging process.
  • Brix: A measurement of the sugar content of grapes before they are harvested. Used to estimate the alcohol content of the resulting wine.
  • Fermentation Process: Process of yeast cells converting grape sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Finish: The wine's aftertaste. Not only the flavors, but the length of time those flavors linger in the mouth.
  • Fruit-first: Term used to describe softer less acid white and lower tannin red wines. Also called "fruit forward." See also tannin.
  • Hang Time: Time the grape cluster is on the vine.
  • Malolactic fermentation: A secondary fermentation that may occur either during primary fermentation or after primary fermentation is completed. This is the conversion of tart malic acid into softer lactic acid. This process can be induced or occur naturally.
  • Mouthfeel: Tasting term for the texture of a wine, for example, its smoothness.
  • Nose: Smell of wine, divided into two sub-components: the aroma and the bouquet. Aroma comes from the characteristics of the grape. Bouquet is the complex fragrance developed by the winemaker's influence during fermentation and aging.
  • pH: A measurement of the concentration of acidity in the juice/wine.
  • sur lie aging: Wine is left on its natural sediment.
  • Tannin: Natural preservative found in varying degrees in skin, seeds and stems of grapes. Most prominent in reds, where it creates dry mouth-puckering sensation. A result of grape to skin/seed/stem contact. Can build structure and improve aging.
  • Titratable Acid (TA): Measurement of the total acidity present in grape juice or wine.
  • Varietal wines: Wines made from, and named after, a particular grape variety. In order to name the variety on the label, at least 75% of the blend must be composed of that grape.
  • Vintage: Refers to wine's age (year of harvest shown on label) and if wine was produced in a "good year" (abundant harvest, high-quality harvest or both). The year in which the grapes were harvested.
  • Viticultural: Term for science of grape production for wine and the making of wine.
  • Viticultural Area: A well-defined region with climate, soil, elevation and physical features that set it apart from surrounding areas.