Most vines are composed of two parts: the part above ground, the scion (SIGH-on) and the part that’s mostly below ground, the rootstock. The scion is grafted onto the rootstock. The scion is a particular grape variety. So a scion could be cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay or a thousand other varieties, for example.
Veraison (ver-AY-zhun) is happening right now all over California. It’s the time in a vine’s growing cycle when grape berries begin to soften and change color. “White” grapes go from green to yellowish, and red grapes go from green to dark red or purple. Veraison is important to winemakers because it signals the onset of final ripening before harvest.
During the Last Ice Age, the repeated episodic freezing and melting of glaciers near Lake Missoula in western Montana resulted in an estimated 25 cataclysmic floods from ruptured ice dams. The massively destructive floods, which came to be known as the Missoula Floods, carved out huge swaths of the Pacific Northwest, including Washington’s vast Columbia Valley now the state’s largest wine growing region at 11 million acres.
The addition of cane or beet sugar to wine must before or during fermentation to increase the total amount of sugar and therefore raise the final alcohol content. Chaptalization is legal and widely practiced in many cooler northern European wine regions, where cool years can lead to grapes that aren’t fully ripe and, in turn, to wines that are thin and lacking in body. By increasing the alcohol content of such wines, the winemaker can make them a bit more full bodied and make them seem a bit more substantial.
A type of restaurant in Lyon, France, known for serving traditional Lyonnaise dishes, which are often rich and hearty. The goal of a bouchon is not haute cuisine but a friendly and personal atmosphere. There are about 20 certified bouchons in Lyon, although many more proclaim themselves to be. A bouchon also refers to a stopper for a wine bottle, most often a sparkling wine or Champagne, as it prevents the bubbles from escaping.
This Austrian term is used only in the Wachau region of Lower Austria for the ripest grapes and, hence, for the fullest-bodied wines. Smaragd (pronounced smar-AHGD) wines must have a minimum of 12.5 percent alcohol, but most have considerably more. The word smaragd is also the name of a bright green lizard that suns itself in the Wachau vineyards.29
The science of identifying and classifying grapevines according to their physical properties, such as the size, shape, and contours of their leaves, petioles, shoots, and grape clusters, as well as the color, size, seed content, and flavor of their grapes. French scientist Pierre Galet introduced modern ampelography in the 1950s and it remained the main system for identifying grapevines until the advent of DNA typing in the 1990s.
The noun “clone” refers to plants of the same species that have identical physical characteristics. The DNA of a grapevine is not stagnant, so in Nature, clones change and evolve as the result of natural genetic mutations taking place over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. A grape variety may have many clones (like pinot noir), or relatively few (like sauvignon blanc). Two different clones of the same grape variety may taste remarkably different. Clone is also a verb. In viticulture, “to clone” means to propagate a group of vines from a “mother” vine that has desirable characteristics. These characteristics may include qualities such as resistance to certain diseases, berry size, and/or flavor attributes.
País (pie EECE) is the historic grape behind Chile’s table wines. Originally known as criolla chica, pais (the name means “country”) is the same as California’s mission grape. Based on DNA typing, both país and mission are the Spanish grape listán prieto, brought to Chile, Mexico, and Argentina in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Spanish conquistadors and missionaries.
Trockenbeerenauslese (TRAWK-en-bear-en-OWSS-lay-zeh) wines, or TBAs, are generally made only a few times a decade, and in very small quantities. TBAs are a specialty of Germany, and—to a lesser extent—of Austria. Among the world’s greatest sweet wines, TBAs are low in alcohol but high in acidity and residual sugar, giving them incredible balance. It takes one person a full day to select just the right concentrated, botrytis-infected grapes that will become a single bottle of TBA. The resulting wine is absolutely mesmerizing in its intensity and balance (and it’s expensive).