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Chaptalization

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.

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Bouchon

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.

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Smaragd

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

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Ampelography

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.

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Clone

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.

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País

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.

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Trockenbeerenauslese

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).

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Mercaptans

Offensive-smelling compounds that result from poor winemaking when hydrogen sulfide combines with components in the wine. The aromas can include putrid food, skunk, and burnt rubber.

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Isinglass 

A gelatinous material, obtained from—get ready—the air bladders of sturgeon and other fish. Isinglass is sometimes used in fining wine to clarify and/or soften the texture of wine. Happily enough, it’s removed before bottling.

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Garrigue

When a wine pro describes a wine as “earthy,” the characterization can mean several different but related ideas. One of the permutations of earthiness is what the French call garrigue (gare-REEG).
Garrigue is the aroma (and by suggestion, the flavor) of the dry, sun-baked earth, combined with the scent of wild resinous plants such as thyme, rosemary and lavender. In Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon along the sunny French Mediterranean, the smell of garrigue often permeates the air, the wine, and even the foods.