The quality of wine that gives it its crispiness and vitality. A proper balance of acidity must be struck with the other elements of a wine, or else the wine may be said to be too sharp – having disproportionately high levels of acidity – or too flat – having disproportionately low levels of acidity. The three main acids found in wine are tartaric acid, malic acid and lactic acid. The first two come from the grapes and the third from Malolactic fermentation which often occurs in the winemaking process.
The breakdown of dead yeast cells (or lees) and the process through which desirable or undesirable traits maybe imparted to the wine. Wines that are deliberately aged sur lie such as Muscadet or some white Burgundies derive certain flavors and textures from this process.
Blending unfermented, fresh grape juice into a fully fermented wine in order to add sweetness. Synonymous with the German winemaking technique Sussreserve.
A wine fermented in oak barrels as opposed to stainless steel or concrete. Traditional with white Burgundies, some Chardonnays and some Champagne.
French term for a 225 liter cask that is traditionally used in Bordeaux and now adopted worldwide
A white wine, usually sparkling, made from red grapes.
The mixing of two or more different parcels of wine together by winemakers to produce a consistent finished wine that is ready for bottling. Laws generally dictate what wines can be blended together, and what is subsequently printed on the wine label.
Also known as bottle-sickness, a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines (usually fragile wines) are shaken in travel. After several days the condition usually disappears.
A natural by product of the fermentation process in which yeast cells convert sugar into nearly equal parts alcohol and carbonic gas. While a small amount stays presence in the wine as carbonic acid, most of the gas will rise to the surface of the fermentation vessel and attempt to escape into the air. If the fermentation vessel is closed (such as a sealed wine bottle used to make sparkling wine), the gas will dissolve into the wine and when released will make the wine sparkling.
A winemaking practice of fermenting whole grapes that have not been crushed. This intracellular fermentation (as opposed to the traditional extracellular fermentation of wine yeast) tends to produce fruity, deeply colored red wines with low tannins
A wood barrel or storage vessel, often made from oak, that is used in winemaking for fermentation and/or aging
A term sometimes seen in Cognac production (but more often associated with grain spirits) to denote a Cognac that has not been watered down to reduce its alcohol level. Like whiskeys these Cognacs will usually be unfiltered and with a high alcohol proof over 40% ABV
An unwanted haze in wine caused by various unstable compounds (such as proteins or excess copper from previous finings) that can develop into a wine fault if not corrected before bottling
Sparkling wine production method where the secondary fermentation takes place in a tank as opposed to the traditional method where it takes place in the individual wine bottle that the consumer eventually purchases
An optional attachment to the Cognac still that heats the wine prior to the first distillation
Classification system used in the Armagnac and Cognac region based on the age of the spirit ranging from 00 for a newly distilled spirit to 2 for a VS ("Very Special"), 4 for a VSOP Reserve, 6 for a Napoleon XO (extra old) and 10 for a the longest aged XO.
Organic compounds that are produced throughout the winemaking process from fermentation through maturation and even distillation for spirits such as a Cognac. These compounds include aldehydes, esters and ketones which can influence the aroma and flavor of wine.
After harvest, and prior to pressing, grape are "crushed" or broken up so that the juice is released and allowed to macerate with the skins prior to and during fermentation. In viticultural terms, "Crush" is used as a synonym for harvest time.
A mechanical means of concentrating the grape must (and such increasing sugar concentration) by chilling the must until its water content freezes into ice crystals that are then removed. This production method is used to make so called "ice box wines" in a style similar to ice wines which are produced by the grapes naturally freezing on the vine before harvest
A blending term used to refer to either blending a wine with one distinct characteristic (such as high acidity) into a wine that currently dominated by the opposite characteristic (such as low acidity). It can also mean blending a red wine with a white wine in order to make a rosé. Cutting may also refer to the illegal practice of diluting a wine with water. The French term tailles or "cut" refers to the point during pressing when the quality of the grape juices degrades. The first tailles is the free-run juice followed by successive pressing.
The disgorging or removal of sediment from bottles that results from secondary fermentation.
French term for racking with the purpose of removing harsh tannins from the wine in the form of grape seeds. In this process the wine is drained into a secondary vessel, allowing the cap to settle to a bottom and loosen the seeds that are trapped in the pulps. As the wine drains, a filter captures the seeds and removes them from the wine. The wine is then returned the first vessel.
A large oak barrel that holds 159 gallons (600 liters). In between the petit foudre and the barrique.
A means of filtering a wine that takes solely inside filtration medium, such as a kieselguhr, rotary drum vacuum or a frame filter.
The process of separating red must from pomace, which can happen before or after fermentation.
Very fine particles of sedimentary rock used for filtering wine. Also known as D.E. or Kieselghur.
Spanish winemaking term describing a wine that is macerated with double the normal ratio of grape skins to juice. This is achieved by the winemaker bleeding off and disposing of extra juice in order to increase the ratio of grape skin and concentration of phenolic compounds.
A German oak barrel that holds 635 gallons (2,400 liters).
Everything in a wine except for water, sugar, alcohol, and acidity, the term refers to the solid compounds such as tannins. High levels of extract results in more colour and body, which may be increased by prolonging the wine's contact with the skins during cuvaison.
The point when a wine becomes limpid, or clear, after all the cloudy sediments falls to the bottom of container. The wine is then usually racked over the sediment or, in the case of sparkling wine, disgorged.
An unpleasant characteristic of wine resulting from a flaw with the winemaking process or storage conditions.
The "tails" of alcohol spirits leftover at the end of distillation in the production of Cognac. These are usually low in alcohol and may be re-distilled or blended with the "heart" (distillate with 70% ABV taken after the "heads" are produced) to add flavor to the Cognac.
A clarification process where flocculants, such as bentonite or egg white, are added to the wine to remove suspended solids. Fining is considered a more gentle method of clarifying a wine than filtering.
The first press, after the free run juice has been collected, that contains the clearest and cleanest juice that will come out of pressing.
A measurement of "total acidity" (TA), including tartaric, malic and lactic, of a wine minus the volatile acids.
The "heads" of alcohol spirit that are first released during distillation in the production of Cognac. These often include acetone, methanol and the lighter aldehydes and ester compounds with low boiling points and are usually discarded rather than added to the final blend of Cognac
The process of adding pure alcohol or very strong (77 to 98 proof) grape spirit to a wine. Depending on when the alcohol is added, either before, during or after fermentation, this can result in a wine with a high alcohol content and noticeable sweetness.
A generic French term for a large wooden vat between 20 and 120 hectoliters.
The separate parts that are released at different boiling points during the distillation process in the production of Cognac. These include the "heads", "heart" and "tails" with each fractions containing different alcohol levels and flavor compounds
The active element of sulfur dioxide that combined with molecules of oxygen to prevent oxidation. For more details see fixed sulfur above.
A fermented alcoholic beverage made from non-grape fruit juice which may or may not include the addition of sugar or honey. Fruit wines are always called "something" wines (e.g., plum wine), since the word wine alone is often legally defined as a beverage made only from grapes.
A German oak barrel with the capacity to hold 265 gallons (1000 liters)
A wine that was allowed to complete the process of fermentation without interruption to produce a wine that is completely dry.
Also known as Fusel oils. By-products of fermentation and distillation that are encountered in small quantities in winemaking that can contribute to a wine's complexity. Yeast naturally produce propyl alcohol, isobutyl alcohol, isoamyl and amyl alcohol as fusel oils with the distillation process able to produce even larger long-chain hydrocarbons that can be potentially unpleasant tasting and toxic. These are usually found in the "tails" fraction of a distillate which is often discarded.
Generic French term for an oak cask where wines are fermented and/or aged.
Winemaking technique historically associated with Chianti where a small amount of partially dried grapes are added to vat of wine that completed or stopped fermentation in order to restart fermentation, potentially adding more alcohol and glycerine to the wine
A mechanized riddling palate that can complete the remuage process that would manually take several weeks over the course a few days
In Cognac production, this is the first fraction of alcohol spirit that is collected during the distillation process which includes volatile alcohol compounds, ethanol and potentially toxic alcohols such as methanol. This fraction is discarded.
The second fraction that is collected during the distillation process in Cognac production that makes up the vast majority of the end product
A German oak barrel with the capacity of 132 gallons (500 liters)
A German oak barrel with the capacity of 159 gallons (600 liters)
A traditional Portuguese concrete vessel used for treading grapes by foot.
A term, often abbreviated as LD on sparkling wine labels, that means the wine was recently disgorged after spending an extended period aging on its lees.
A process of oak barrel production during which some tannins are deliberately removed from the wood by steaming. The viticultural term refers to the loss of certain qualities of the soil, such as pH, when rainwater removes or "leaches out" carbonates from the soil.
Wine sediment that occurs during and after fermentation, and consists of dead yeast, grape seeds, and other solids. Wine is separated from the lees by racking.
Also known as bâttonage, A process associated with sur lie aging where the lees are stirred up to extract flavor and other sensory components into the wine and to avoid reductive conditions that may contribute to various wine faults
A strong tasting acid in wine reminiscent of the flavor of green apples. The amount of malic acid in grapes is gradually reduced during the ripening process while the grapes are on the vine and can be further reduced during winemaking by fermentation and malolactic fermentation.
Also known as malo or MLF, a secondary fermentation in wines by lactic acid bacteria during which tart tasting malic acid is converted to softer tasting lactic acid, during which carbon dioxide is generated.
A nitrogen rich protein secreted by dead yeast cells during the autolysis process that occur while the wine ages on its lees.
(aka Methode Traditionelle, Traditional Method) Process whereby sparkling wines receive a second fermentation in the same bottle that will be sold to a retail buyer. Compare with Charmat, transfer or bulk fermented methods.
A method of sparkling wine production similar to the Champagne method except there is no secondary fermentation. Rather the wine bottled before the primary fermentation has completed, trapping the resulting carbon dioxide gas, and leaving the residual sediment in the wine.
The tendency of water of within two solutions separated by a semipermeable membrane to travel from a weaker solution to the more concentrated one to achieve equilibrium. In winemaking, osmotic pressure is observed in yeast cells added to grape must with a high sugar content. The water in the yeast cell escapes through the cell mebrane into the solution causing the cell to experience plasmolysis, caving in on itself and dying.
The degradation of wine through exposure to oxygen. In some aspects oxygen plays a vital role in fermentation and through the aging process of wine. But excessive amounts of oxygen can produce wine faults.
A method of straw wine production that involves drying bunches of grapes in a special room in order to dehydrate them and concentrate flavors. In some circumstances the grapes maybe left on the vine to dry out in a method similar to the French technique of passerillage.
A measure of the acidity. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity. The term comes from the French Pouvoir Hydrogéne meaning "hydrogen power". pH is a shorthand for its mathematical approximation: in chemistry a small p is used in place of writing log10 and the H here represents [H+], the concentration of hydrogen ions.
Compounds found in the seeds, skins and stalks of grapes that contribute vital characteristics to the color, texture and flavor of wine. Two of the most notable phenols in wine include anthocyanins which impart color and tannins which add texture and aging potential.
A Portuguese oak barrel with the capacity of 145 gallons (550 liters).
An ultrafine means of filtration usually done with kieselguhr or perlite that leaves a wine with exceptionally bright clarity – giving the impression that it has been polished. Premium wines will often decline polishing because ultra fine precision can also remove flavor and phenolic compounds that may diminish the quality and aging potential of the wine.
Distillation vessel, usually made of copper, used in the production of Cognac and other alcohol spirits. Usually a wash will be distilled twice with three fractions (heads, hearts and tails) coming from each distillation.
The time prior to fermentation that the grape must spends in contact with it skins. This technique may enhance some of the varietal characteristics of the wine and leech important phenolic compounds out from the skin. This process can be done either cold (also known as a "cold soak") or at warmer temperatures.
Refers to the alcohol content of a beverage. In the United States, proof represents twice the alcohol content as a percentage of volume. Thus, a 100 proof beverage is 50% alcohol by volume and a 150 proof beverage is 75% alcohol. In the Imperial system, proof, (or 100% proof), equals 57.06% ethanol by volume, or 48.24% by weight. Absolute or pure ethanol is 75.25 over proof, or 175.25 proof.
A condition in wines with an excessive amount of protein particles. These particles react with tannins to create a cloudy, hazy appearance in the wine. This condition is rectify with the use of a fining agent, such as bentonite, to remove the proteins.
An oak wine barrel with the capacity of 119 gallons (450 liters)
An A-frame rack used in the production of sparkling wine. The drilled holes in the boards allow sparkling wine bottles to go through the riddling process to slowly move the leftover sediment from secondary fermentation into the neck for removal.
A group of aromatic compounds in grapes that contribute to some of the green herbaceous notes in wine from the green bell pepper notes in some Cabernet Sauvignon to the grassy notes of some Sauvignon blanc. In red wines, the abundance of pyrazines can be a sign that the grapes came from vines with vigorous leaf canopy that impeded the ripening process of the grapes.
This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (July 2010)
The process of drawing wine off the sediment, such as lees, after fermentation and moving it into another vessel.
French and Spanish term for a fortified wine that has been madeirized, often by storage in oak barrels for at least two years often exposed to direct sunlight. Rancio wines are often found in the Roussillon region of France and in various Spanish regions.
A liqueur made by combing unfermented grape juice with a brandy made from the residue of seeds, skins and grape stalks left over from pressing.
The second column used in a patent still during the production of some wine-based spirits where the vapor from the analyzer containing the alcohol spirits is separated into fractions through a process of several "mini-distillations" taking place between segments of perforated plates.
French term for the process of pulling out wine from underneath the cap of grape skins and then pumping it back over the cap in order to stimulate maceration.
In sparkling wine production, these are the still wines kept over from previous vintages in order to blend with the product of a current vintage in order to improve quality or maintain a consistent house style with a non-vintage wine.
The unfermented sugar left over in the wine after fermentation. All wines, including those labeled as "dry wines" contain some residual sugars due to the presence of unfermentable sugars in the grape must such as pentoses.
Also known as "Rémuage" in French, part of the Méthode Champenoise process whereby bottles of sparkling wine are successively turned and gradually tilted upside down so that sediment settles into the necks of the bottles in preparation for degorgement.
Pink wines are produced by shortening the contact period of red wine juice with its skins, resulting in a light red colour. These wines are also made by blending a small amount of red wine with white wine.
Most commonly the term is used to refer to the continuation of fermentation in a second vessel – e.g. moving the wine from a stainless steel tank to an oak barrel. The Australian meaning of this term is malo lactic fermentation MLF, as distinct from primary fermentation, the conversion of sugar to alcohol.
An acid that can be added to wine in order to halt yeast activity and alcohol production – such as in the production of some sweet wines. If a wine goes through malolactic fermentation when there is a significant amount of sorbic acid present, the wine can develop a fault characterized by a strong odor of crushed geraniums.
A wine that starts out as a lighter bodied and perhaps weaker flavor that is blended with a stronger, more robust wine.
The process of decreasing the volatility of a wine by removing particles that may cause unwanted chemical changes after the wine has been bottled. In winemaking wines are stabilized by fining, filtration, adding sulfur dioxide or techniques such as cold stabilization where tartrate chemicals are precipitated out.
An additive such as potassium sorbate which is added to wines before they are sweetened. Unlike sulfites, these products do not stop fermentation by killing the yeast, rather they prevent re-fermentation by disrupting the reproductive cycle of yeast.
Cutting or diluting a wine with water, often used to lower the alcohol level of the wine. In many wine regions this practice is illegal.
A fermentation that has been halted due to yeast prematurely becoming dormant or dying. There are a variety of causes for a stuck fermentation including high fermentation temperatures, yeast nutrient deficiency, or an excessively high sugar content.
A winemaking practice that involves prolonged aging on the dead yeast cells (the lees).
French term for a sparkling wine that has been aged with its neck down following the completion of autolysis but before dégorgement. Wines that are being riddled (remuge) will end up sur pointe with the yeast sediment consolidated in the neck of the bottle.
Defined by the level of residual sugar in the final liquid after the fermentation has ceased. However, how sweet the wine will actually taste is also controlled by factors such as the acidity and alcohol levels, the amount of tannin present, and whether the wine is sparkling.
In the distillation process used in Cognac and Armagnac production, this is the third fraction that is collected during from a pot still that usually contains a large number of less volatile compounds and alcohols, many of which are toxic with this fraction being discarded.
Also known as the "Charmat" or "Cuve close" method where the secondary fermentation of sparkling wine production takes place under pressure within a sealed tank.
Phenolic compound that give wine a bitter, dry, or puckery feeling in the mouth while also acting as a preservative/anti-oxidant and giving wine its structure. It is derived from the seeds (pips), skins and stalks of grapes.
The primary acid found in wine that is detectable only on the palate. Prior to veraison, the ratio of tartaric and malic acid in grapes are equal but as malic acid is metabolized and used up by the grapevine, the ratio of tartaric sharply increases.
A method of sparkling wine production where a wine undergoes normal secondary fermentation in the bottle but then after the bottles are open, its contents transferred to a tank where they are filtered and then rebottled in small "splits" or large format size bottles. Also known as transvasage.
French term for the sorting of grapes after harvest but before crushing/pressing to remove less desirable bunches or MOG
Also known as headspace, the unfilled space in a wine bottle, barrel, or tank. Derived from the Frenchouillage, the terms "ullage space" and "on ullage" are sometimes used, and a bottle or barrel not entirely full may be described as "ullaged". It also refers to the practice of topping off a barrel with extra wine to prevent oxidation.
A means of removing water from grape must at a lower temperature than standard distillation/boiling which could also burn off the delicate flavors and aromas of wine. Within a vacuum, the pressure on the liquid is reduced allowing the must to boil at between 25 °C (77 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F) which can cause much less damage to the wine. In winemaking, this technique is sometimes used in vintages where late harvest rains has caused the grapes to swell with water, diluting the flavor and potential alcohol level of the wines.
Winemaking technique where the volatile acidity of a wine is deliberately elevated in order to enhance the fruitiness of wines that are meant to be consumed young.
The juice that is still remaining the wine grapes during Champagne wine production after the second pressing has retrieved the taille fraction. By law this juice can not be used to make Champagne and is usually discarded or distilled
Vin de presse
The dark, tannic wine produced from pressing the cap of grape skins.
Acids that are detectable on both the nose and the palate. The level of fatty or volatileacids in a wine that are capable of evaporating at low temperatures. Acetic and carbonic acids are the most common volatile acids but butyric, formic and propionic acids can also be found in wine. Excessive amounts of VA are considered a wine fault.