We’ve provided a handy glossary of wine terms to make understanding wine making techniques easier and wine drinking more engaging. We don’t want you to be dazed and confused. We certainly don’t want anyone to think you are dazed and confused because you drink wine.
Terms used when Tasting Wines
Body – It means the wine has a certain weightiness or lack thereof when you are swirling it in your mouth.
Finish – This refers to the length of time a wine persists in your mouth after you have tasted it. Does the flavor linger or dissipate quickly? A lingering flavor is said to have a long finish.
Balance – After tasting a wine, do all of the components meld? Do any stand out in a good or bad way? For example, is there too much tannin? Too much fruitiness? Too much sugar? If all the components fit together nicely, then the wine is considered to have “balance”, meaning all the acid, fruit, tannins, sugar, etc. jell together harmoniously.
Tannins – Is a compound found in the seeds and stems of vines, particularly in red wines. It gives wine astringency, or bitterness, which is bad. However, it also serves as a natural preservative, giving certain wine the ability to age, which is good.
Terms used in the Wine-making Process
Here’s a basic definition for those, including myself who weren’t that great in high school Chemistry.
Primary fermentation is also called alcoholic fermentation because this is when the yeast is added to the must. Yeast helps turn must (the juice obtained by crushing the grapes) into wine. Here’s the definition for you science nerds: yeast + sugar = alcohol + carbon dioxide.
Malolactic Fermentation (MLF)
Malolactic Fermentation is a fermentation process that using bacteria. Malic acid is naturally occurring in wine. Its presence gives wine a green apple taste, sometimes not desired in a finished wine. So during the wine making process the malic acid is converted to lactic acid, giving it a more soothing dairy taste. The wines that undergo MLF are more stable and often times lead to better tasting wines. Also called Secondary Fermentation.