Appellation – an identification of where grapes are grown. In the United States, the term used is AVA (American Viticultural Area), but because the term appellation is the traditional term and more widely known, we have chosen to use this term. To use the AVA name on the wine label, 85% of the wine must have come from grapes grown within the specified geographical AVA boundaries.
Biodynamics – Biodynamic winemaking follows the teachings of Austrian anthroposophist Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925). Key Components:
* Reading the language of nature through careful observation; understanding that there are a vast number of factors that affect plant growth
* Avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides
* Taking into account cosmic rhythms when planning vineyard activity
* Using biodynamic preparations as medicines for the Earth
* Employing concepts from the self-sustaining farm model, i.e. composting, attracting beneficial fauna
* Nourishing the soil as a living organism
* Incorporating homeopathic treatments, as well as astronomical and astrological considerations.
Breathing – the interaction between air and wine after a wine has been opened.
CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) – a non-profit membership based organic certification and trade association, dedicated to promoting and supporting organic food and agriculture.
Champagne – a region of France where grapes are grown to produce the sparkling wine that bear the same name as the region. The wine is produced by a secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle. The wine is made exclusively in this region of France and is made up primarily of pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier. Now, although technically incorrect, even sparkling wine that is made from grapes that are not grown in this region, are referred to as “Champagne.”
Claret – a French term for a wine that is between a light red and a dark rose.
Cuvaison – the French term for the period of time during alcoholic fermentation when the wine is in contact with the solid matter such as skin, pips, stalks, in order to extract color, flavor and tannin.
Cuvée – a specific lot of wine.
Demeter USA – the non-profit American chapter of Demeter International, the world’s only certifier of Biodynamic® farms and products. Biodynamic agriculture goes beyond organic, envisioning the farm as a self-contained and self-sustaining organism.
Fermentation – the process where the grape juice is joined by other ingredients (yeast, sugar, etc.) resulting in a chemical reaction that produces wine. Temperature is key in achieving desired results. (A risk factor involved with fermentation is the development of chemical residue and spoilage which can be corrected with the addition of sulfur dioxide (SO2)). Natural fermentation – must or juice will begin fermenting naturally within 6-12 hours with the aid of wild yeasts in the air. In very clean, well-established wineries and vineyards this natural fermentation is welcome.. But for various reasons, many winemakers prefer to intervene at this stage by inoculating the natural must. They kill the wild and sometimes unpredictable natural yeasts and then introduce a strain of yeast of personal choosing in order to have more control over the end result.
Fish-Friendly Farming – a certification program for agricultural properties that are managed to restore fish and wildlife habitat and improve water quality.
IPM (integrated pest management) – an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management. IPM programs use comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment, which in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. Organic food production uses many of the same methods, but the big difference is that the pesticides come from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.
Magnum – two 750ml bottles of wine (or 1.5 liters)
Méthode Champenoise – traditional sparkling wine production method from France–natural fermentation in a bottle.
Must – pulp
Organic – grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. (Only during the 20th century was a large supply of new synthetic chemicals introduced into the food supply.) Proponents of organically grown grapes believe this method allows the natural flavor of the grape to emerge, and that keeping chemicals out of your glass is healthier for people and the entire ecosystem. Organic farming methods prevent soil erosion and protect groundwater quality.
Pomace -skins, stems and seeds – what’s left after pressing.
Punch down – a cap management process (a process for controlling the amount of intimate contact between the skins and the fermenting wine) for aerating the must and optimizing the contact between the must and solids during fermentation – the skins are literally punched down into the juice.
Reserve wine – superior wines made from grapes grown at the best sites of the winery’s vineyards, usually possessing greater concentration and depth.
Riddling – an integral stage in the making of sparkling wines, in which deposits left in the bottle after secondary fermentation are dislodged and shaken into the neck of the inverted bottle; can be done by hand or machine.
Sommelier – a wine steward who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food matching.
Sparkling wine – a wine that has enough carbon dioxide in it to make it fizzy. The classic example is Champagne.
Sulfites – occur naturally during fermentation, but additional sulfites are often introduced to arrest fermentation at a desired time, and may also be added to wine as preservatives to prevent spoilage and oxidation at several stages of the winemaking. The use of added sulfites is debated heavily within the organic winemaking community. Most vintners favor their use, in extremely small quantities, to help stabilize wines, while others frown on them completely. In the United States, wines labeled “organic” cannot contain added sulfites. Wines that have added sulfites, but are otherwise organic, are labeled “wine made from organic grapes.”
Sur-lie aging – occurs when wine is left on its natural sediment. ‘Sur lie’ translates from the French as ‘on lees’, lees being the yeasty residue remaining in the cask after fermentation. ‘Sur lie’ wines are bottled directly from the lees without racking (a process for filtering the wine).
Sustainable – Although there are no set standards in effect, wineries that take the ecology of the vineyard into account, and try to minimize chemical treatments and energy use, are called sustainable.
Tasting flight – refers to a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.
Terroir – a French term for the climate and physical properties of the land where grapes are grown.
Varietal – refers to the grape from which the wine is made. By law, the varietal must have at least 75% of that grape.
Vertical wine tasting – In a vertical tasting, different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery are tasted, such as a winery’s Pinot Noir from five different years. This emphasizes differences between various vintages for a specific wine. In a horizontal tasting, the wines are all from the same vintage but are from different wineries or microclimates.
Vinification – the process of changing grapes to wine through the process of fermentation.
Yeast – a micro-organism present on the skins of grapes that reacts with the sugars inside and results in the production of ethyl alcohol during fermentation.
Zymology (how could we not include this one? it’s essential to winemaking–not to mention it’s a “z” word. . .) – the science of fermentation in wine.