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Vocabulary

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

acid:
Acid, as in acidity, is a component in grapes that decreases as they ripen. Acidity makes your mouth water and is considered an important part of a wine's structure. Too much acid tastes harsh, too little makes a wine taste flabby. Acidity incites an appetite and is key if a wine is going to be served with food.

acidify:
is the act of adding acid to wine to create more balance. When grapes ripen too quickly, or when they've been exposed to generous sunlight, they tend to lose their acidity. Acidity causes your mouth to water and incites your appetite. A wine lacking in acidity is said to be flabby. Many appellations, like Bordeaux, forbid the addition of acid to wines.

aeration:
is contact with air. Like breathing, aeration can happen by just opening the bottle, decanting, or pouring in a glass and allowing the wine to come in contact with air. A wine's flavor can bloom with aeration, but contact with oxygen will eventually cause its flavors to decline until it is oxidized.


alcohol:
Ethyl alcohol is a chemical component created when live yeast consumes sugar. Ethyl alcohol adds structure and body to the wine. Most wine contains 9-15% alcohol after fermentation. If a wine's alcohol content is too high in relationship to the other components, it is said to taste 'hot' because it has a prominent alcohol flavor. Not all wines with high alcohol taste hot. Fermentation generally does not create alcohol levels over 16% ABV or Alcohol By Volume.

American Viticultural Area:
was created in 1978 and governed by the ATF, American Viticultural Areas were instituted on January 1, 1983, allowing time for producers to become compliant with the new rules. Similar to the French AOC system (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée), The American system is not as restrictive as European systems. French, Italian, and Spanish appellation systems specify the geographic area, type of grapes, allowable blends, production methods, minimum alcohol levels, and maximum yields for the region specified. The American system only specifies the boundaries of the geographic regions and the minimum percentage of wine required from a specified region, in order to use that regional name on the bottle's label. At least 85% of the grapes must come from that particular area in order for the regions name to be listed on the label. Also, under the AVA system, a bottle can be referred to as a single grape if it contains 75% or more of that stated grape. For example a bottle of wine can be called cabernet sauvignon on the front label, even though it contains 15% merlot and 10% cabernet franc.
Regions specified in all appellation systems can be extremely large or so small that you can walk its perimeter in a few hours. AFT considers the soil, micro-climate, elevation, topography, and history when establishing AVAs. A producer within an AVA has the right to use the largest AVA name that surrounds its designation. For example, a producer in the Chalk Hill AVA can use the Chalk Hill AVA on their label, or they can use the larger Russian River AVA instead. Even more diluted, the Chalk Hill producer can use the even larger Sonoma Valley AVA or the largest AVA it qualifies for, the California AVA. A producer restricted to use the California AVA cannot use a smaller appellation. Generally, the smaller and more specific an area is defined, the better the growing conditions. Therefore, a producer located in the Chalk Hill AVA would use that appellation on the label, rather than any larger designation.
Why would a producer want to use a larger AVA? There is no reason an American producer would want to use a less prestigious region on its label. However, European producers are beginning to use less desirable, larger appellation designations because they pay less tax when exporting the wine into the United States. Since the Euro is stronger than the dollar, this allows European producers to position their products at a better price for American consumers.


aroma:
is the scent of a wine. It is also referred to as bouquet or nose. Some will say the term nose signifies a younger wine, while bouquet is an older one, but there is no official use for either term. Some grape varieties are known for contributing a significant nose. Riesling, cabernet franc, viognier are three grapes known for being very fragrant. Aging in oak barrels will impart scents of vanilla, sandalwood, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and other wood nuances. The nose is considered an important part of the tasting process.


balance:
is a representation of all of the components of wine, ripeness, sugar, acidity, finish, tannin, and alcohol. To be balanced these components should be in harmony. Every region, blend, and wine grape variety have a typical style and being balanced means those expectation are met. A wine can be out of balance and then aging can allow the wine to be balanced with time. A balanced wine offers components that do not overwhelm each other and are in accordance is with the norm, as well as what the palate desires.


bâtonnage:
is the process of stirring wine that has been resting on its lees. As dead yeast cells break down in the bottom of the wine vat or barrel, their components are know to add mouthfeel, body, and creamy tones to the wine. Stirring the wine encourages these flavors and is a common practice with white wine producers, especially chardonnay.


barnyard:
stinky wine, smelling like horse manure is often refered to as barnyard.


bâtonnage:
is the process of stirring wine that has been resting on its lees. As dead yeast cells break down in the bottom of the wine vat or barrel, their components are know to add mouthfeel, body, and creamy tones to the wine. Stirring the wine encourages these flavors and is a common practice with white wine producers, especially chardonnay.


botrytis cinerea:
is a mold that affects many different plants species. When it infects grapes it cause two different outcomes. One is called gray rot. Gray rot causes the berries to rot and usually means the whole cluster must be destroyed. The other infection is called noble rot. Noble rot causes the grapes to shrivel on the vine, concentrating the sugars and flavors. Botrytis does not happen to a vineyard each year, so the advantageous results are rare. Botrytis causes the grape to be intensley flavored and often imparts a musky undertone.


bottle shock:
also called bottle sickness, is a conditions that occurs when wine is bottled, or transported. Because of the agitation and exposure to air, some bottles of wine will close down and lose the fruit flavors temporarily. This condition can be extreme, but the fruit flavors usually return after a few weeks of the wine being stationary.


bottle stink:
a smell that is not appealing to the olfactory. When first opened, some bottles of wine emit an odor that is not pleasing. These odors often blow off leaving a very palatable wine.


bouquet:
see aroma.


breathe:
allowing a bottle of wine to come in contact with the ambient air. Breathing can be done by merely opening the bottle, pouring into glasses, decanting, or even by adding an aeration device to the wine. There are no charts or rules-of-thumb for allowing a wine to breathe. Some bottles of wine are exceptionally better when exposed to air. Ultimately, all wine is degraded by exposure to air. The better the quality the grapes, the more the wine will benefit from breathing. Generally, all wine is better after being open for an hour. Some wines can breathe for hours and even days with favorable results.


brix:
is a measure of sugar content in a grape or grape juice. Measuring the brix give an indication as to how much alcohol a wine will contain after fermentation. Brix is a measurement used to determine when grapes should be picked.


canopy:
refers to the grapevines and what shape they are grown. Canopy management is the strategy used to manage the grapevines. Canopy management is a highly developed science dating back as far as grape growing itself. Training vines, cutting excessive growth, pruning in the winter, and shaping the plant are all part of canopy management plan. Location of grapes and leaves are considered. Canopy management can reduce disease, improve the quality of grapes, and affect yields.


carbonic maceration:
also called whole berry fermentation. A form of fermentation where the grapes are kept whole and allowed to ferment naturally inside their skins. Wild yeast occurs on the skins of grapes, which assists with this type of fermentation. Carbonic maceration is used in the French appellation Beaujolais. It produces simple wines with distinctly grape-like flavors. Wines made from this process are often lighter in body.


Cava:
is a sparkling wine produced in the Penedés region of Spain. Traditionally, Cava is produced from a combination of three indigenous white grapes, macabeo, parellada, and xarello, although some producers have been adding chardonnay to the blend as well. Cava gets its name from an old Catalan word meaning cave. It is a fresh, young sparkling wine meant to be drunk young. Rosé versions of Cava can use the red grapes monstrell and garnacha.


Charmat Method:
is name after its inventor, Eugène Charmat. This is process places still wine under pressure while it is fermenting, so that the carbon dioxide is trapped in the liquid. Many producers use this inexpensive method of creating sparkling wine, rather than Méthode Champenoise. Charmat is a step up from the method of merely pumping carbonation into still wine. Charmat sparkling wines lose their carbonation much faster than sparkling wine that have under gone Méthode Champenoise.


closed:
closed down or tight, refers to the inability for a bottle of wine to show its fruit flavors. This could be because the wine needs to breathe, it too young, or is suffering from bottle shock. It is often difficult to determine if a bottle of wine is close, rather than lacking in fruit. Often othe flavors are available in a close wine that indicate fruit flavors will evolve eventually. Some closed bottles of wine require a day of breathing before the fruit flavors are tasted.


cooked:
when a wine has been exposed to heat it can become spoiled. A cooked wine has a baked fruit flavor and often has a bit of fizz. The cork may be pushed up and wine may have leaked out and over the outside of the bottle. A cooked wine can also taste of nuts and turpentine. Heat can break the seal of a wine bottle and cause it to oxidize. Flavors of oxidation are similar to a wine being cooked.


corked:
2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA is a mold taint that comes from infected corks. This mold is so prevalent that it can infect an entire winery. It is a difficult eradicate because it thrives on bleach. When a bottle of wine is severely tainted, or corked, it can taste like wet dog, mildew, wet cardboard, or ground up rubber bands. As revolting as a corked bottle can taste, TCA starts out as a loss of fruitiness with no ill flavor. Even though it tastes like it could kill you, you can drink the wine, but I don't know why you would want to.


cooperage:
see oak.


crush:
is a slang term for the harvest of wine grapes. Crush is a slang term for the time of year when grapes are harvested. Crush is the act of removing the grape juice from the grape berries. Although this word implies pressure, often juice is acquired using free run methods. Juice can also be released by pressing the grapes.


cuvée:
is a blend of wines, usually in Champagne. A cuvée is styled to taste the same with each release. It is usually non-vintage, abbreviated NV, blending several years together to obtain the same flavor. Vintners outside of Champagne can call their blend a cuvée, but the term originated in the Champagne area. Sparkling wine producers use this term and technique too. Tête de cuvée refers to the producer's house blend.


destem:
grape berries are removed from the stems prior to fermentation to reduce tannins. Most producers use mechanical methods to remove stems, but some choose to destem by hand, allowing employees to inspect the grapes prior to vinification. Handling the grapes by hand leads to a better quality wine because rotten, bruised, and unripe grapes can be omitted from the press.


disgorgement:
is the removal of a frozen plug of dead yeast (lees) from the neck of a bottle of sparkling wine. It is one of the steps in Méthode Champenoise. After the riddling process is complete, when all the sediment has sunk to the neck of an inverted sparkling wine bottle, the neck of the bottle is frozen. One the cork is removed, the relief in pressure causes the plug of frozen sediment to push out of the bottle. Once the plug is removed the bottle is given a dosage and recorked.


dosage:
pronounced doh-sahj, is a small amount of wine with sugar (and sometimes brandy and citric acid) that is added to a bottle of sparkling wine after disgorgement has taken place. It is one of the steps in Méthode Champenoise. This addition of sugar acts as fuel for the domant yeast, which causes a secondary fermentation. The waste product from yeast eating sugar is alochol and carbonation. A dosage purpose is to add more carbonation to a sparkling wine and return the fill line to an exceptable level after disgorgement.



free run:
refers to the juice that is released from grapes under their own weight. Free run juice comes from grapes that are not pressed. Grape juice that is released from pressed grapes tends to be more tannic because tannins are released from the skins of the grapes. Free run juice is reputed to be the best grape juice. A winery will often collect the free run juice first and then collect the juice from pressing separately.


filter:
removes solids in wine by pouring the wine through a strainer to capture the particles. Filtering clarifies wine. Many producers are choosing to forego filtering to retain all the nuances the wine has to offer.


fining:
is the process of removing small particles from wine prior to bottling. This process removes cloudiness, removes color (mostly in white wines), removes undesirable odors, makes the wine clear, and can even reduce some tannins. Fining agents bond with the particles to make them heavy so that they drop to the bottom of the vat or barrel. After fining, the wine can then be racked off the top of the barrel or vat leaving behind the solids that once made the wine cloudy. Fining agents are activated charcoal, activated carbon, egg whites, gelatin, bentonite, casein, nylon, and PVPP (polyvinyl poly-pyrrolidone). There is a movement away from fining, although many producers still put wine through this process.


finish:
The lingering impression a wine leaves after it is swallowed (or spit) is referred to as the finish. The finish is part of a wine's structure. A finish can offer flavors that were prominent on the palate or completely different impressions. Some wines have a long finish with evolving flavors, such as better quality rieslings. Wines that have a non-existing or short finish are considered flawed.


frizzante:
is an Italian term for petillant. Frizzante (pronounced freet-zan-tay) is not quite sparkling, but lightly effervesant. Some frizzante wines are Gavi, Vinho Verde, Moscato, Lambrusco, Bottles containing frizzante wines do not need the sparkling wine cork and muselet. Sometimes frizzante is slightly sweet.


flabby:
A flabby wine is soft in the mouth, lacking acidity. Acidity offers an opposite facet to fruit flavors, alcohol, and tannins. Acidity is a component considered in winemaking as well as culinary arts. Some people prefer a lower acid level and do not mind the thicker mouthfeel. Less acidity often comes from too much sun. Flabby wines can taste sweet when the actually don't have any residual sugar.


fortified wine:
is wine that has had spirits added to it to give it longevity. When the only transportation to the new world was an unrefrigerated ship, wine would often spoil during the journey. Some clever sailor poured a bit of brandy into a barrel containing wine and the rest is history. The spirits allow the wine to withstand warm temperatures often experienced at sea. This is the technique used to make Portos.


French oak:
Often called barrique, French oak barrels made from oak trees in highly regarded forests. Vosges, Nièvre, Alliers, Sarthe, Tronçais, and Limousin are considered the best oak forests in the world for cooperage (barrel making). Oak barrels have been used for storing libations for centuries. While American, Russian, and Slovenian oak are commonly used to age wine, French oak is considered the best and consequently is most expensive. The climate in these regions of France promote very slow growing. Oak barrels made from oak from these forests, imparting subtle flavors because of their tight grained wood. French oak can be recognized by its vanilla, cinnamon, and clove characteristics.



hang time:
A slang word referring to the amount of time grapes are able to hang on the vine to ripen. It also infers a long slow ripening. Most grapes benefit from long, slow ripening, but some grapes, like pinot noir, require it. Long hang time happens when the weather is optimal.


hot:
Refers to the distinct flavor of alcohol in a wine. Wine can have high levels of alcohol, yet still not taste strongly alcoholic. When a wine has a flavor of rubbing alcohol it is said to be hot. It is considered a flaw and can be detected at many levels, from slightly hot, where the rest of the characteristics make up for the strong flavor, to unmistakably hot, where no matter how much fruit or flavor the wine offers otherwise, the alcohol flavor is overwhelming. Pinot noir is known for being hot as a flaw.


Ice Wine:
is made by freezing late harvest grapes and then gently pressing to leave behind the water crystals. This process expresses juice that is extremely concentrated. In German, where this wine is called Ice Wein, it is against the law to freeze the grapes by mechanical methods. The rest of the world is not so particular however producers in Canada have taken to producing this exotic treat in the traditional manner.




lees:
are sediment created by fermentation. Lees are made up of dead yeast and other debris, such as small grape solids. When wine is left on the lees it is called sur lie. Allowing wine to rest on the lees adds creamy flavors. This technique is generally used with white wines, in particular, chardonnay.


legs:
are tears that roll down the side of a glass containing wine. The more distinct and colorful the legs, the more body and alcohol the wine contains. Colorful tears form when grapes are grown in a hot growing region.

Sometimes legs do not show right away when the wine is rolled inside the glass, but with a little patience most wines will show some legs. Wines that are lower in alcohol, like German wines, will often not generate legs. Legs are used by wine professionals to determine alcohol levels.


Malolactic fermentation:
is a process where the tart fruit acidity called malic acid is changed into a softer, creamier tasting malic acid. Malo, as it is called, is the introduction of bacteria into the wine, either by inoculation, or by natural means. Some Champagnes allow natural malolactic fermentation to occur. Malo is performed on most red wines to soften their prominent acidic flavors and some white wines, to soften the acidic flavor and to impart flavors of butter. Many new world chardonnays use a recipe of malolactic fermentation and aging in newer oak barrels.


Méthode Champenoise:
is a set of meticulous procedures to produce sparkling wine. These procedures were established in Champagne, but now are used globally to impart quality. Many sparkling wines show the term Méthode Champenoise on their label, even though they are produced outside of Champagne.


new world:
comprises the countries Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and the United States. New world refers to a geographic area, but can also define a style of wine. The geographic parameters of the new world definition are defined by a young wine industry and sunny weather. The new world style is fruit-forward, softer in acidity and tannins, and generally is not made to be stored in a wine cellar for extended periods of time. The old world has a wine history that often spans thousands of years. nose:
see aroma.


oak:
has been used to store libations for hundreds of years. In fact, one Sherry producer admitted he has American oak barrels that are older than the United States. Oak barrels allow a wine to breathe slightly through their pores. The wood adds flavor to whatever is being stored in it. Newer oak barrels add the most flavor, with distinct notes of vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, and caramel from toasting of the wood. Barrels also add tannins to the wine. White wines, which have their skins removed as soon as the juice is released, generally do not have tannic components. Newer oak barrels will add tannins to white wine (and red wine too). Traditionally wines were aged in oak as a convenience or to add a soft touch of spice. Barrels were used as long as they had structural integrity. The older the barrel--the less flavor it adds to the wine. Older oak barrels will soften the wine's flavor, adding a soft sensation on the back of the tongue. New oak barrel aging has nearly become a prerequisite for red wines sold in the US.


oak adjuncts:
are pieces of oak added to wine to impart oak flavor in wine. Oak barrels are expensive, especially the popular French oak cooperage. Winemakers with less budget for barrles will put small pieces of French oak directly in their wine. Adjuncts can be staves, pellets, or beans. French oak has become so popular that it was almost mandatory to appease the American palate. With anything good, knock-offs usually follow. If a wine brags about oak and is inexpensive ($10 or under) it probably has been treated with oak adjuncts. Some people experience headaches from the tannins in oak adjuncts. Although new oak barrels impart plenty of oak flavor, the nuances are more subtle than adjuncts. As barrels age they add less flavor to the wine.


old world:
comprises the countries France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain and other European wine producing areas. (Spain is often considered both old world and new world because of their new world styled wines, even though they have been making wine for some five thousand years.) Old world refers to geographic areas as well as a style of winemaking. Old world wines often are grown in areas that struggle with getting enough sunlight. The grapes can be under-ripe and the wines are consequently more acidic.


open up:
A wine with generous aromas and flavors is opened up. The nose, fore-palate, mid-palate, and finish contribute to the experince with nuances of flowers, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, minerals, wood, and more. Exposing wine to air can cause these aromas and flavors to be obvious. A wine needs to open up when it is tight or closed, lacking aromas and flavors. A tight wine is acidic and tannic, but often has an illusive density on the mid-palate.


oxidation:
is a flaw in wine that causes its flavors to become dull and flat. Oxidation happens when the wine is exposed to air. The more air it is exposed to the more the wine deteriorates. When wine is bottled it often suffers from bottle shock, a form of oxidation that causes the flavors to close up and not be available again for weeks and sometimes months. Oxidation happens when corks dry up in the neck of the bottle. Allowing a wine to breathe is also oxidation and can improve the flavor up to a certain point, usually a few hours, but sometimes more. Sherries are wines that benefit from controlled oxidation.


phyloxera:
is a louse indigenous to North America. In the mid-nineteenth century lambrusca root stocks were introduced to the Rhône Valley containing the root louse phyloxera. The entire European wine industry was devastated by the foreign insect. This insect slowly eats the roots and the vines die slowly over a period of a decade. Decades later the root louse was accidentally introduced to Europe, vinifera vines were grafted onto lambrusca root stock as way to combat the infestation. This method is still used to this day. Phyloxera is still a global concern. Some growers can boast that they tend pre-phyloxera vines. Phyloxera does not thrive in sandy soil, so some areas in places such as Spain, were not as affected by the bug. The phloxera infestation of the nineteenth century was a historic agricultural calamity.


Prosecco:
is the name of a grape used to make Italian sparkling wine. The wine is named after the grape, rather than the village, like other European wines. Prosecco is produced in the villages Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. It is a fresh sparkling wine meant to be drunk young.



residual sugar:
is grape sugar that is left over after fermentation is complete. Residual sugar can make a wine seem flabby or thick in the mouth. With ample acidity most wines with residual sugar taste balanced. Sparkling wines can contain a little residual sugar as a matter of style. Because of a lack of sun, German wines often need to leave some residual sugar. Grapes lacking ripeness are very acidity and leaving a touch of grape juice behind after fermentation can help soften the perception of the acid. Dessert wines are created by leaving grapes on the vine after main harvest has been completed. The extra ripening causes excessive sugar that cannot be fermented by the yeast.


riddling:
is the act of removing sediment from a bottle of sparkling wine. It is one of the steps in the Méthode Champenoise and is also called remuage. Riddling is preformed by placing bottles of sparkling wine into a rack at a 45 degree angle, upside-down. Every few days someone will give the bottle of sparkling wine a shake to dislodge sediment and force it to fall into the neck of the bottle. After all the dead yeast cells gather in the neck, the sediment plug, is frozen and then removed from the bottle in what is called disgorgement. Riddling is mostly done by machine these days.


skin contact:
Skin contact is also called maceration. Freshly picked grapes are crushed and allowed to soak with their skins to extract color, tannins, flavor and other phenolic materials. The skins form a cap on the top of the vat, which is mechanically or manually punched back into the liquid over several days to facilitate the extraction process. Red wine grapes spend much time on their skins, while the skins of white wine grapes are removed almost immediately. Rose wines are generally made with red wine grapes, but the juice rests on the skins for a short period of time compared to when the grapes are made into red wine.


sparkling wine:
is all wine containing carbonation. Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Champagne can only come from the region of France called Champagne. If a sparkling wine is from any other place it is called sparkling wine or another regional name as in Prosecco (from Italy) or Cava (from Spain). The use of the name Champagne on wine from outside of the region of Champagne is a misnomer. Sparkling wine can be made in several different ways, the two most popular are Méthode Champenoise and the Charmat method.


stainless steel fermentation:
refers to the type of container wine is fermented in. Wine can be fermented in glass lined vats made of concrete, French, American, or Hungarian barrels, or stainless steel vats. Newer oak barrels impart flavor and tannins to wine. Old barrels, concrete, or stainless steel vessels are considered neutral in flavor. New barrels are expensive compared to neutral containers. Stainless steel fermentation is becoming more popular, after an apex of oak barrel use over the last few decades. Stainless steel wines offer people who suffer from oak tannin headaches relief from their morning headaches.


sur lie:
a procedure where wine is permitted to rest on the lees for a period of time during aging, imparting rich flavors to the wine. Lees are the precipitates and dormant yeast cells that fall or are pulled, (by the use of fining), to the botom of the wine vat or barrel. As spent yeast cells break down their components are known to add mouthfeel, body, and creamy tones to the wine. A French term, meaning on lees.


Stelvin closure:
is an upscale screw cap. Because of the TCA infestation of cork trees in Portugal, more and more producers are putting Stelvin closures (and other non-cork closures) on the business end of their bottles. Stelvin closures are more expensive than corks. They have ten times the integrity when it comes to guarding against oxidation and do not run the risk of cork-taint. Stelvin closures are easier to re-use than latex corks. Many new world producers embrace this technology.


structure:
Structure is the combination of acidity, tannins, fruit flavor, and alcohol. When these components are in proper proportion the wine is said to be balanced. Every wine has structure. To describe a wine's structure is to use these terms in reference to it's overall appeal. For example, a particular wine's structure is too tannic and another one's structure doesn't have enough acidity and is too fruity. Structure can also include fore-palate, mid-plate, and finish.


tannin:
Tannins, tannic, tannic acid, an astringent component in wine that comes from grape skins, seeds, and stems. Tannic acid makes your mouth feel rough, like eating walnuts and can be softened by eating fats. Tannins can also be imparted in the process of extracting the juice from the grapes or aging wine in newer oak barrels. Tannic acid allows wine to last longer and often mellows as a wine is stored over time.


terroir (teh-rwahr):
is the subtle component that is often absent in new world wines. Terroir is the flavor of the land, weather, and environment. It is often called aspect. It is the slight flavor of rocks, chalk, autumn leaves, spring rain, dust, baked earth, ocean breeze or minerals. Terroir is destroyed by sulfites that are added when the grapes are first crushed. It is also diminished by the quick ripening that happens in hot growing regions. A whopping alcohol level is a sign that the delicate flavors of terroir are lost. Aspect of the land is an old world occurrence. More and more new world producers try to preserve terroir in their wines. The best examples of terroir can be found in European wines.


tête de cuvée:
is a blend of wine, usually Champagne or sparkling wine, that represents the producers 'house style.' Tête de cuvée is a blend of several years and is labeled non-vintage, NV.


tight:
is a description for wine with diminished aromas and flavors. A tight wine is generally very tannic and acidic and often has a dense, but illusive flavor on the mid-palate. Closed is another description of tight wine. A wine can open up when exposed to air or when aged longer. A tight wine will eventually offer aromas and flavors. Wines that are over the hill are not tight.



vegetal:
is a flavor reminiscent of vegetables or fresh herbs. Some varieties are naturally vegetal, like carménère and its distinct green pepper flavor. Other wines can taste vegetal because they ripen unevenly, like zinfandel. Vegetal flavors are usually similar to peppers and in small amounts can add character. Vegetal flavors can indicate under ripe grapes.


vigneron (vee-nyeh-rohn):
There are some word in French that do not interpret to English, like terroir. Conversely, there are some words in English that do not interpret to French, like winemaker. Europeans believe that wine makes itself. They also believe that you cannot make qualtiy wine without great grapes, regardless of the skill of the winemaker. The European belief that wine is made in the vineyard is driven home by the fact that they, in particular the French, do not have a word for winemaker. Vigneron means vine grower or grape grower. This word is widely used in Europe and now being used more and more in the United States.


vinify:
is the technical word for 'to make wine out of.' Vinification is the act of making wine out of juice. The term is almost always used in reference to grapes.


vitis lambrusca:
is the indigenous grape species of North America. Vitis lambrusca has a thicker root stock than its cousin vitis vinifera, which protects it from the phyloxera louse. Lambrusca varieties include Concord, Niagara, Michigan, Catabwa, and Delaware. These varieties generally do not ripen to high sugar levels. To soften the high acidity, producers will stop the fermentation to leave some grape juice behind or they will add generous amounts of sugar. Lambrusca varieties are said to be musky or foxy in flavor, refering to their earthy flavors.


vitis vinifera:
is the grape species of Europe, which as a thinner root stock than its cousin vitis lambrusca, which makes it suseptiable to the phyloxera louse. Vinifera varieties include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, syrah, grenache, riesling and more.




yeast:
is a single celled, micro-organism that consumes starch, often in the form of sugar. The by-product of this consumption is alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yeast grows on all food and is floating in the air. When grapes are picked they contain wild yeasts on their skins. Some producers choose to use these wild yeasts for fermentation, but most choose to kill of the wild yeasts and use a cultivated yeast for more controlled results. Different yeasts are bred for use with different grapes and grains. Yeasts have been used for thousands of years, but it wasn't until the 1857 that Louis Pasteur discovered the connection between yeast and fermentation. Yeast has specific requirements in order to thrive and becomes dormant in alcohol levels over 16%.

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