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Sustainable

As applied in the wine industry, the term sustainable is used to indicate a winery where all viticultural, winemaking, and business practices conform to the goal of maintaining the land and environment is the best possible condition for generations to come. The Napa Valley, for example, was the first Agricultural Preserve in the United States (formed in 1968). Today nearly 90% of Napa County is under permanent or high levels of protection from development. In addition 75% of Napa Valley Vintners’ member wineries are currently participating in Napa Green, a comprehensive, “best practices” program of environmental stewardship. The Napa Valley Vintners’ objective is to have all of its members involved in Napa Green by the end of 2020.

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Maderized

A term for a wine that has been subject to a long period of heat and oxidation. The best-known example is Madeira, from which the term maderized comes. Table wines should not be maderized.

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Amphora

An earthenware vessel used by the ancient Greeks and other Mediterranean people to store and ship wine. An amphora was oval in shape, with two large handles at the top for carrying and a pointed bottom so that the vessel could be pushed into the soft earth where it would remain upright. Amphorae range in size from that of a milk can to a refrigerator.

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Halbtrocken

German for “half-dry”—defined as less than 1.8% residual sugar. Wines labeled halbtrocken usually still taste extremely dry because of the high corresponding acidity in German wines. The term feinherb is often used as a synonym.

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Tastevin

A shallow, silver tasting cup used by a SOMMELIER who often hung it around his or her neck. The cup was designed with dimpled sides that would reflect candlelight in dark cellars and thereby allow the sommelier to see the color of the wine.

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Cloudy

Descriptive term, not necessarily negative, for a wine that is not brilliantly clear. A wine can be slightly cloudy because it has not undergone FINING or filtering (See FILTER). Some wines, however, are cloudy as a result of faulty winemaking.

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Legs

Also known as “tears” in Spain and “cathedral windows” in Germany, legs are the rivulets of wine that have inched up the inside surface of the glass above the wine, then run slowly back down. Myth has it that the fatter the legs, the better the wine. This is not true. The width of legs is determined by the interrelationship of a number of complex factors, including the amount of alcohol, the amount of glycerol, and the rate of evaporation of the alcohol and the surface tension between solids and liquids. But the most important point is this: Legs have nothing to do with quality. It is irresistible to point out that wines—like women—should not be judged by their legs.

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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.