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Ice

The word ice is usually used along with the word wine, as in ice wine (or eiswein). But ice can be used alone, as in “Riesling Ice.” A wine that is described simply as “ice” is made from grapes frozen artificially. By contrast, all ice wine globally must be made from grapes frozen naturally on the vine. Ice wine is usually expensive—often costing over $100 for a half bottle. By contrast, wines simply labeled ice can cost as little as $20 a half bottle.

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Fiasco

Literally, “a flask,” but more often the word fiasco is used to describe the bulbous, straw-encased Chianti bottle that was a fixture of the bohemian lifestyle in the 1960s in the United States. (Memory lane, right Boomers?). Chiantis sold in fiaschi (the plural) were usually quite cheap. Plus the bottle doubled as a candle holder once the wine was drunk. If fiaschi make a comeback, remember, you heard it here.

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Tartrates

Usually found clinging to the bottom of a cork, tartrates look like bits of crushed glass or small white snowflakes. But these tasteless, odorless bits of tartaric acid are harmless. Tartrates precipitate out when acidity in its liquid state turns into a solid. This can happen when wines do not go through the winemaking process known as cold stabilization.

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Millerandage

A viticultural problem caused by abnormal pollination, millerandage results in differently sized berries within one bunch. (The berries are affectionately known as hens, chicks, pumpkins and peas). Getting the berries to ripen evenly can therefore be difficult. And the yield of the crop is also reduced, although smaller berries can increase the quality of the wine.

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Rough

Used to describe the coarse texture of a (usually young) tannic red wine before.  Aging can sometimes soften a rough wine.

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Autolysis

The decomposition of spent yeast cells. When a wine is left sur lie, or on the lees, it remains in contact with the spent yeasts that performed the fermentation. As the yeasts’ cell walls collapse, enzymes start to break down the cells themselves, producing mannoproteins and polysaccharides that are released into the wine. These impart an extra dimension of flavor, texture, viscosity, and complexity.

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Vanillin

A compound in oak barrels that is ultimately imparted to wine as a flavor and smell reminiscent of vanilla beans. New barrels have more vanillin than older barrels, and hence wine stored in new barrels has a more pronounced vanilla character.

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Veraison

The time in summer when grape berries change color signaling the onset of final ripening. White grapes go from green to yellow, and red grapes go from green to red.

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Glycerine

Also called glycerol, glycerine is a colorless, odorless, slightly sweet, oily substance that is a minor by-product of fermentation. Though often commented on by tasters, glycerine probably makes no more than a negligible contribution to a dry wine’s viscosity, and it is not responsible for a wine’s so-called “legs” or “tears.” The wines with the highest glycerine levels are sweet botrytized wines. In these wines, glycerine may contribute slightly to the wine’s sweetness and unctuous feel.

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Lagar

A shallow stone or cement trough in which grapes are trodden by foot (usually for several hours) in order to crush them and mix the skins with the juice. Treading grapes by foot, an ancient method, is still widely practiced in Portugal, where many wineries have ancient lagares.