Wine 201: A Follow Up to Wine 101

Here are the terms, in order, that I reviewed on the 23 Mar 19 podcast over at Ladies Chit Chat Club.

Varietal is a term used to describe a single type of Vitis Vinifera  or wine grape.

Vitis Vinifera is the Latin name for wine producing grapes that originated in the

Viticulture is the process of growing grapes to produce wine.

Viniculture is the process of producing wine.

Wine Cycle describes the cycle from the dormant period of the grape vines to the bottling process.

Bud Break occurs following the dormancy period (spring in the Northern Hemisphere) when the buds for the flowers begin to appear and then begin to flower.

Veraison occurs once the grapes begin to shift their colors from the bright green of an unripened grape to their final color.

Harvest occurs once the acid and sugars reach the desired level for the wine maker in the grapes. This can be done by hand or machine, or a combination of both.

Crush can be as simple as using the feet to stomp the grapes to release their juice (think of Lucille Ball) or can involve larger machines that crush the grapes to release the juice. If the wine is white, the juice is immediately racked off of the skins and seeds to avoid any unwanted coloring. Red wines, and rosés for less time, will spend time with the skins, seeds, and the occasional stem or leave to add color and tannins to finish product.

Fermentation occurs when yeast is introduced to the grape juice. triggering the chemical process that consumes the sugars to release Carbon Dioxide and alcohol.

Malolactic Fermentation is the secondary fermentation that all red wines, and some white wines like Chardonnay, go through to convert Malic Acid to Lactic. Malic is the green apple skin, extremely tart acid whereas Lactic tends to be creamier and smoother.

Fining is the process to remove invisible proteins and other sediment that may cloud the wine in its final state. This is where the question of vegan versus non-vegan wines comes into play as the fining materials used are often from either fish bones or egg whites.

Traditional Method is the term used to describe how sparkling wines from Champagne, France, are created. Since all other sparkling wines made outside of Champagne must be referred to as “sparkling” this term informs the consumer the method used to produce the wine. Secondary fermentation involves a fermentation in the bottle and the wine is often left on the dead yeast cells to produce the dry biscuit flavor associated with these kinds of wines.

Tank Method is a process used to make sparkling wines, like Prosecco, to produce light and clean sparkling wines without the yeast influence on the pallet associated with the Traditional Method.

Color, bowl vs rim, is one of the first thing you observe during a tasting experience. You will want to tip the glass to see what the wine looks like at its edges, as well as at the bowl, or base, of your glass.

Nose is the term used to describe the notes you smell when first observing your wine. You can swirl the wine in order to introduce more oxygen to the wine to help bring out different notes, but this is a very personal aspect that relies heavily on your own memories and exposure to different smells.

Legs are the streaks of wine down the glass into the bowl itself after swirling and often indicate the alcohol or sugar content. The more of these present, the longer it takes for the wine to return to the bowl, thus the term “long legs.”

Pallet is the term used to describe the mouth, saliva glands, and taste buds. You will often hear things described “on the pallet,” to reference how the mouth reacts to a wine and what notes you may taste as part of the experience. It can also be used in conjunction with mouthfeel and finish.

Tannins vs Acidity are the common aspects of wine that are at play within the pallet. Acids naturally occur in the grapes themselves and as a by-product of fermentation and can present as Malic, Lactic, Citric, or Succinic. They trigger the saliva glands to engage, causing the mouth to water, and sending a message to the brain to feed the body, hence the reason most Old World (European) wines have some level of acidity. Tannins derive from the skins and seeds, as well as the oak or stems, and act to dry the mouth out in various places, depending on where the tannins derive from…it is often the feeling of the gums receding from the teeth or an overall dryness to the mouth. Many New World red wines often have strong and bold tannins and very little acidity. Often the term “Body” can begin to come into play here as a lightly acidic and zero tannic wine would be considered a light body versus a heavier tannic wine with minimal acidity and higher alcohol may often be described as full bodied.

Mouthfeel describes the overall experience in the mouth, bringing the acidity, tannins, alcohol, sugar, and body into a description of how the wine interacts with your mouth. This is different for every person (similar, yes…but depending on your body’s reaction to the wine, it will slightly differ from your tasting partner’s experience) and often where differences are noticed from each individual tasting. Mouthfeel can often be used to describe faults in the wine (unbalanced, young, cloying, hot, flat, etc.)

Finish is the final impression of the wine in the mouth and throat. Lighter wines will have shorter finishes whereas bigger bodied wines will often have much longer finishes. The tastes or results of the tannins and/or acidity may linger well beyond the act of swallowing or spitting the wine. (Spitting wine??? WHO DOES THAT???)

Terroir is a French term you will often hear to describe the place where the grapes are grown and wine produced. It takes into account all aspects from the process, to include the soil, slope, precipitation, winds, temperature, amount of sun exposure, etc. It is also a great place to start when considering wine and food pairing…what grows together often goes together. Having pasta with red sauce? Consider a Chianti from Italy! French cheeses on your cheese tray? Consider pairing a wine from the region your cheese comes from (or close to it.)

I hope this quick guide is useful as you sit down to taste your favorite wine. Need an easy wine note taker? Here is a very clean and easy to use note for your next wine tasting! tasting-sheet

Cheers and Namaste!


2015 wine

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