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Solera

A solera is a complex network of barrels used for aging Sherry by progressively blending younger wines into older wines. Since the barrels are not completely filled, the wine is allowed to be gently subjected to oxidization during the process. Wine held in a solera is said to undergo the solera process.

 

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Rive

The word used to distinguish small, hand-tended vineyards grown on special steeply sloped hills in the area where Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore can be made. There are 43 such communes where Proseccos can have Rive status. The geology of the Rive (a result of glacial movements by the Alps as well as the desiccation of ancient seabeds) is quite amazing. Each Rive has a narrow crest and then slopes precipitously downward on both sides. Most vineyards are planted on what is considered the “front” slope, which, over centuries, has been worn away to reveal varying layers of rock and soil. Wines designated as “Rive” are highly sought after by lovers of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, and tend to be a bit more expensive. The word Rive will be listed on the label along with the commune’s name.

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Pago

The Spanish term for a single estate considered exceptional, roughly equal to a “Grand Cru” in France. Three official denominations of origin exist in Spain. In ascending reputation for quality, they are: DO (Denominación de Origen), DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada) and DO Pago. As of 2018, there were about 17 DO Pago estates in Spain.

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Aviner

The French verb used for rinsing one’s wine glass with the wine to come. Often this is done when switching between wines that vary significantly from each other—as when going from, say, an aromatic white wine to a red wine. Wine glasses are also sometimes rinsed with wine when the water the glass was washed with is considered less than perfect—as might be the case, for example, if the water supply is heavily chlorinated. Rinsing with wine assures that the drinker will smell the wine’s actual aromas rather than something else.

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Estate Bottled

Exact definitions of estate bottled differ depending on the country from which the wine comes. In the United States, the term may be used by a winery only if 100 percent of the wine comes from grapes grown on land owned or controlled by the winery, and both the land and winery must be within the same viticultural area. That said, the parcels do not need to be contiguous.

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Coulure

The failure of grapes to develop after flowering occurs. Poor weather conditions during the spring, such as overcast skies, very cold or very hot temperatures, wind, and rain can cause the flowers to stay closed or drop off the vine altogether, therefore remaining unfertilized. Each flower represents a potential grape, and vines that experience coulure (pronounced co-LURE), sometimes called “shatter” in English, have irregular bunches that are missing grapes.

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Bottle Sickness

Bottle sickness is a temporary condition that occurs following bottling. During bottling, wine is jostled and exposed to oxygen as it is transferred from barrels or tanks to bottles. This can cause the wine to temporarily taste neutral or out of balance. Bottle sickness (also called bottle shock) usually goes away in a few weeks, occasionally months.

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Massale Selection

An ancient method (literally “mass selection”) of establishing a new vineyard or replanting an old one by selecting numerous older vines throughout an existing vineyard, then propagating and planting them. Mass selection can help to maintain the style of the wine from a particular vineyard. The opposite of massale selection is to replant a vineyard using specific clones from a nursery.

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Acetaldehyde

Produced naturally during fermentation, acetaldehyde is a colorless volatile compound with a pungent nutty aroma. It is an asset in some wines such as Sherry, but a detectable amount in table wine is considered a flaw. Acetaldehyde also occurs in coffee and ripe fruit.

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Saignée

The term saignée means “bled” in French and refers to the process of making rosé by bleeding or drawing off pink-colored juice from fermenting red grapes. This process also results in concentrating the remaining red wine, since the ratio of skins to juice in the tank is increased when some juice is drawn off.