A-Z of Wine Jargon

A is for Acidity – A wine’s acidity should be detectable as a sharpness in the mouth, particularly around the back sides of the tongue. It should be neither too obvious nor absent. It provides a refreshing sensation in white wines, and balance in reds. Its absence makes a wine dull and ‘flabby’ – a defect in any wine, but a disaster in sweet wines which makes them become undrinkable without balancing acidity. Too much acidity can make a wine difficult to drink.


B is for Biodynamic Viticulture – An extension of organic viticulture, taking into account the effect of the moon and planets on the health of the vines. Based on the principles of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.


D for Demi Sec – Demi Sec is the French term which refers to Medium Dry.


E is for Eiswein – A delicious sweet wine made from frozen grapes.


F for Flor – The layer of yeast that covers the wine while in the process of making Fino Sherry.


G is for Grafting – In viticulture this is where the vitis vinifera (European vine) is attached to the root stock of an American vine, which is tolerant to phylloxera.


H is for Health – Much research has been carried out in the world of wine drinking and health with lots of conflicting arguments.

Such as alcohol its highly addictive and causes liver disease, however alcohol also increases the high density cholesterol, “the good cholesterol” thus lowers the risk of heart disease. The polyphenols in wine (from the skin that provides tannin) is full of antioxidants which are essential to the body.

“I feel that common sense prevails wine it comes to the intake of wine”.


I is for Indigenous – Grape varieties that you may only find in certain parts of the world. This maybe due to reasons such as they are only suited to that particular area or have just never travelled to other parts of the world. The white grape Grolleau Gris from the Loire Valley is an example of this, as is PicPoul from the Languedoc. Italy alone has over 800 indigenous grape varieties and it is said that Portugal may have more. Time to get adventouous and explore.


J is for Jeroboam – A double magnum, equal to four bottles.


K is for Kabinett. – German term indicating wine made without chaptalisation (adding of sugar) but from the grapes harvested at ordinary ripeness. This is the driest of styles.


L is for Lees – The sediment of dead yeast cells which fall to the bottom of the tank. some wines are ‘rested’ on their lees to produce a fuller bodied wine.


M is for Malolactic Fermentation – The process in winemaking which allows the harsh malic acids (green apple flavours) to soften to lactic acids (more of a cooked apple flavour)


N is for Noble Rot – Is a fungus encouraged on grapes to produce sweet wine.


O is for Oenologist – Someone who has studied the science of wine and winemaking


P is for Phylloxera – Is a serious pest to the vineyard and changed viticulture and the planting of the vitis vinifera (European vine) vine by grafting on to American rootstock. The louse eats away at the roots of the plant and therefore kills the vine. There is no way of killing the pest and this is why grafting on vineyards is now common practice.


Q is for QbA Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete – This indicates a wine from a quality wine region in Germany.


R is for Rootstock – American rootstock is specially selected to be grafted with the vitis vinifera (European vine). The type of soil it will be planted in and other factors will also be taken in to consideration when selecting a rootstock.


S is for Sussreserve – Is unfermented grape must used to sweeten dry wine prior to bottling.


T is for Terroir – A word used to describe a sense of place for a wine. This will include all aspects of the growing environment, such as climate, aspect, weather altitude and soil.


U is for Ugni Blanc – A white grape variety that is widely used and produces different styles of wine and spirits. As a wine it produces dry, crisp with high acidity. In spirits it is the main grape used in the highly regarded Cognac and Armagnac.


V is for Veraison – Is the time in the grapes life when it changes colour and starts to ripen


W is for Wine – A wonderful alcoholic beverage that is made out of fermented grape juice. Made out of love and passion giving pleasure to many.


X is for Xarel-lo – A white grape variety indigenous to Spain and is one of the three grapes used for the blend of Cave. It gives a strong aromatic and earthy flavour


Y is for Yeast – Yeast is needed to turn grape juice in to wine, the winemaking will either use the natural yeasts from the grape or introduce a cultured yeast to help control the fermentation process.


Z is for Zinfandel – A red grape variety that is widely grown in California. It produces a lot of semi sweet rose often for a mass market. In its full red wine form it produces deep coloured full bodied wines. It is also the grape variety found in the heel of Italy, Puglia but known as Primitivo.



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