The A-Z of wine

The A-Z of wine

Are you a true Oenophile? Read through our glossary of wine terms and find out.

Acid is the element that gives a wine that crisp flavour and can be found in all wines in different quantities. The measure of the amount of acidity in wine is known as the “titratable acidity” or “total acidity”, which refers to the test that yields the total of all acids present, while the strength of acidity is measured according to pH, with most wines having a pH between 2.9 and 3.9.

Ageing allows the development of complexity and can be done in oak barrels, tanks (with or without oak staves) or in the bottle like you would at home or in the traditional making of Champagne.

The French word used for the method of stirring the lees during ageing and maturation of wine in barrel.

The cordon, or "arms", of the grapevine extend from the trunk and are the part where additional arms and eventually leaves and grape clusters extend. The cordons are usually trained along wires as part of a trellis system. This training usually fixes the cordon into a permanent position, such as horizontal extending from the trunk in opposite directions.

A winemaking technique in the making of Cap Classique and Champagne, where the necks of the inverted bottles (to collect yeast cells and sediment) are frozen; then the crown caps (typically used when bottling beer) are removed and out will shoot a “plug” of frozen wine and yeast, leaving clear Champagne or MCC behind.

En Premiuer
A method of purchasing wines that are not yet ready for retail sale as the wine is still maturing in barrels. Typically associated with French wines from prominent producers, collectors and investors are given the opportunity to purchase the wine now for delivery in the future e.g. when the wine has been matured and bottled.

Fortified wine
This is a wine to which a distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added to increase the alcoholic and sweetness levels. Many different styles of fortified wine have been developed, including Port, Sherry, Madeira and Marsala.

Grand Cru
Meaning ‘Great Growth’ this is a French classification that applies to a particular vineyard within an AOC and is the highest possible ranking given to certain sites within the region of Burgundy.

High-density planting
Some South African pinot producers have adopted the Burgundian model of high-density planting in the vineyard. This method not only maximises the use of the land, but the smaller canopies also create competition between the vines. This results in wines with more intense flavours.

Ice Wine
A dessert wine made from grapes that have been picked while frozen on the vine. This requires sub-zero temperatures and often the grapes are picked at night. Canada is the largest producer of Ice Wine in the world.

These large format bottles can hold 4,5 litres of wine (the equivalent of six 750ml bottles).

Kosher wine
Wine made according to Jewish dietary laws.

The time it takes the taste of a wine to remain after swallowing is referred to as its ‘Length’. A wine with a long length will have an aftertaste that remains noticeable for more than a just few seconds. This lingering aftertaste would commonly be referred to as a wine’s ‘finish’ given it is the last stage in the process of enjoying a wine.

Malolactic fermentation (ML)
A bacterial conversion that occurs in most wines. It’s a natural process that can be manipulated in the making of red wines. This type of fermentation is generally associated with rich and creamy Chardonnays and full-bodied red wines. When making Sauvignon Blanc, for example, winemakers will often prevent malolactic fermentation from taking place – or any other wine where a sharper, crisper flavour profile is desired.

This is a wine bottle even bigger than the Jeroboam as previously mentioned. The bottle contains 15 litres which are the same as 20, 750ml wine bottles.

This is a name for people who love wine and enjoy the details of the winemaking process and all the other parts that go into making wines.

A set of naturally occurring chemical compounds that are found in wine that contribute to the overall colour, flavour and texture of a wine.

A term often used in wine branding that has no specific meaning in most New World wines but usually suggest a wine is of higher quality. In countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy, the equivalent word ‘Riserva’ actually has a governed meaning and can only be used when a wine has spent a particular amount of time ageing in the barrel before bottling.

A profession within the hospitality industry that requires in-depth knowledge of wine. A sommelier will often work in a restaurant recommending appropriate wines for guests based on their preferred style and budget.

A vine naturally wants to sprawl, so viticulturists tie up the annual green growth of vines on wires to expose more leaves and grape bunches to the sun, to encourage air circulation and to prevent rot.

Refers to the small air space in a wine bottle or barrel.

The vine is the main part of the grapevine, extending from the root system in the ground up to the cordons, or arms, of the vine.

Organisms that issue enzymes that trigger the fermentation process; yeasts can be natural or commercial.

A variety of black-skinned wine grape, also known as Primitivo, has enjoyed great success in California.
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