This page will be dedicated to give you a definition of what some of the words we use actually mean. Look at the wine folks as the last people in the world that speak Latin. We have our own terms that mean something very specific or different than what you think it is. This list will constantly be updated with new terms.
Acidification – Adjusting the pH level to have a good acidity level. Usually done in warmer regions due to losing too much malic acids during the ripening of the grape. The result would be of low acidity and lacking freshness and this step is to adjust that.
Added CO2 – When CO2 is added to add some freshness to wines (you see this all over the world. Common in modern Vinho Verde for example. Back in the was due to MLF happening in the bottle, but nowadays mostly for consistency reason it is added CO2).
Ambient Yeast – The winemaker may decide to not add any yeast and in the case ambient yeast or also called wild yeast, which is present in the vineyard and in the winery will make fermentation happen. Fun fact that ambient yeasts such as Kloeckera and Candida for example, die when alcohol reaches about 5%abv and then Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the dominant yeast. So the magic of natural wines, or any wine that didn’t have any cultured yeast happens until those die.
Barrel – New vs old barrel. New barrels will give you more smoke, woody, vanilla and spices aromas than an old one. New barrel is when it is used for the first time. The 2nd, and following years it is not called new barrel anymore. Broadly, barrels give you aromas for about 4/5 usages.
Batonnage – The process of stirring the lees of the wine, which adds brioche, nuts, yeast, bread and toast aromas/flavours. It also gives you a fatty cheeks, mouth coating feeling.
Blending – The art, because it truly requires skills, of mixing wines from several batches. That can be done for multiple reasons such as a consistency of the brand’s wine from year to year, to create a specific style of wine, to add complexity, to create more volume/influence the price of the wine by mixing better and not as good wine and others. Could be here all day.
Cold Soak – Most common for premium red wines, it happens after you crushed the grapes and have the juice and skin in a vessel and, before fermentation starts, you allow the juice to gently extract color, flavour and tannins at a cool temperature.
Cork Taint – Aka “corked”, is when a wine has a mouldy, wet cardboard smell.
Crushing – Breaking intact grapes so that the juice comes out to start to make wine.
Destemming – Removing the grapes from the stems. Most common for the production of fruity white wines, and to avoid too much tannins for reds.
Enrichment – When the must is lacking sugars, according to local laws, the winemaker might be allowed to add sugars, aka enrich. Most commonly used are grape must, grape concentrate or rectified concentrated grape must (RCGM), or by any process of concentration such as reverse osmosis for example. Most common in cold region where the grapes don’t reach an appropriate sugar content to make wine.
Fermentation – The conversion of sugars to CO2 and Alcohol.
Filtration – A physical technique of separating the solids out (while fining is through an added agent).
Fining (or fining agent) – A process where a fining agent is added so that small particles, unstable proteins, undesirable phenolics or colour can be removed. This is important because it is the step that makes most wines out there not vegan. Some of the fining agent are animal based, such as egg white, isinglass (from fish bladders) or gelatin. It is a way of clarifying the wine.
Gross Lees – The first lees created in the first 24h, which is basically the bigger and heavier particles. Fine lees are the smaller and lighter particles that come next.
Lees – The solids found during winemaking such as the solids of the juice coming from crushing the grapes (think of it as the pulp let’s say), and also the solids created by dead yeast once the fermentation is over.
Malolactic Conversion/Fermentation (aka MLF or malo) – Technically a conversion and not a fermentation. This is when a lactic acid bacteria converts malic acid into lactic acid and CO2. This is what give you buttery, cheesy and creamy aromas/flavours.
Maturation – Ageing of the wine.
Micro-oxygenation – Oxygen is sometimes useful. This is usually done naturally by having your wine in a barrel. But sometimes you don’t want the oaky flavours in your wine or don’t have money for the barrel yet still want the benefits from oxygen. In that case you have some oxygen go through the wine, aka micro-oxygenation.
Must – The juice the is going to ferment into wine.
Natural Wine – Even though there are no laws around the meaning of Natural Wine, it usually is a with made from organic grapes and with minimalist approach to winemaking minimizing interventions such as filtering, fining and others.
Oak Fermentation – Have the fermentation to happen insane an oak barrel
Organic Wine(making) – Wine made from grapes grown organically, and without/low SO2 added (varies depending on the laws of the country).
Pressing – Pressing the skins to remove the remaining juice/wine that didn’t come out from crushing the grapes.
Rectified Concentrated Grape Must (RCGM) – Flavourless syrup from grapes used to enrich the must.
Removal of Alcohol – Wines sometimes need to have their alcohol content adjusted for consistancy or flavour reasons. Most common ways are reverse osmosis or spinning cone.
Sediment – Solid particles found in bottled wines.
Skin Contact – The step of leaving the skins of the grape in contact with the juice. Usually pre-fermentation and less than 24h. Most common in some style of white wine to exctract some phenolics.
Skin Maceration – Leaving the skins in contact with the juice/wine for a longer period to extract flavour, color and phenolics. Most common in red wine winemaking.
Sulphites or Sulfur or SO2 – Mostly works as an Anti-oxidant and Anti-microbial.
Tank Method –Production method of sparkling wine. It is when the second fermentation of the wine (which gives you the bubbles) happens in a pressurized tank.
Tannins – Most common in red wines, they are extracted from the skin of the grapes, seeds and/or stems. Is what dries your mouth when drinking some red wine leaving you with a bitter and astringent taste. It binds with protein (that’s why they say red wine with red meat. So that the tannins go to the protein of the meat and this way you avoid that bitterness and astringency).
Traditional Method – Production method of sparkling wine. It is when the second fermentation of the wine (which gives you the bubbles) happens inside the bottle.
Vessel – Vessels where either fermentation or maturation happens, as well as where the wine might be stored until sold. Most common are stainless steel tanks, concrete vats and wood barrels.