A comprehensive wine information guide in a program to manage your home cellar

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Balthazar - An oversized bottle which holds the equivalent of 12 to 16 standard bottles.

Barrel - A small wooden barrel used for aging red wine, and fermenting some styles of white wine. Barrels are about 220 litres (60 gallons) in size, and are made of oak, primarily from French and American forests.

Barrel Aging - The process of holding wine in oak containers to allow flavor and aromatic compounds to mature and change beneficially.

Barrel Character - The flavor and aromatic compounds an oak barrel contributes to the wine. Barrel character varies by the origin or forest of the wood, coopering techniques including toasting and length of oak aging, and the age of the barrel.

Barrel Fermentation - Most commonly used with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, this describes the fermentation of wine in barrels instead of stainless steel tanks. Can give added dimensions of oak and yeast flavour to the wine.

Barrique - An oak barrel that generally holds 225 litres.

Baumé - Similar to brix. 1 Baumé = 1.8 Brix = approximately 1% alcohol.

Big - Wines with significant (or excessive) flavour or structure.

BITE - A marked degree of acidity or tannin. An acid grip in the finish should be more like a zestful tang and is tolerable only in a rich, full-bodied wine.

Bitterness - Describes one of the four basic tastes (along with sour, salty and sweet). A common source of bitterness is tannin or stems. Although a mild bitterness can often be a pleasant addition it is usually an indication of a flawed wine, detected in the aftertaste. Not to be confused with acidity.

Black fruits - Aromas and flavors found typically in red wines including those of blackberries, black currants, blueberries and black cherries.

Black grapes - Grapes with reddish or blue pigment in their skins used to make red wine.

Blanc De Blancs - "White of whites," meaning a white wine made of white grapes, such as Champagne made of Chardonnay.

Blanc de Noirs - "White of blacks," white wine made of red or black grapes, where the juice is squeezed from the grapes and fermented without skin contact. The wines can have a pale pink hue. E.G., Champagne that is made from Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.

Bland - Wine-tasting term denoting a wine without character, though not necessarily having any wine faults.

Blend - Mixing of two or more grape varieties, vintages or locations to increase quality, complexity or maintain consistency.

Bloom - Flowering of the grapevines. Bloom is also a waxy substance found on the skins of grapes.

Blunt - Strong in flavor and often alcoholic, but lacking in aromatic interest and development on the palate.

Body - 'Full-bodied' describes a wine with fullness of flavour in the mouth; conversely, 'light-bodied' means the opposite.

Bordeaux - A wine region in France.

Bordeaux blend - A style of wine assembled from the classic red grapes of Bordeaux including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

Botrytis Cinerea - Known also as "Noble Rot". A fungus which attacks grapes in certain climatic conditions (and only in some years) causing the evaporation of moisture from the grape and a consequent concentration of flavour and sugar. When controlled, Botrytis can produce highly sought after white dessert wines. Botrytis is not accepted in red wine production.

Bottle age - Time spent in the bottle after making and oak aging. 'Will mature with bottle age' means the maker suggests the wine will reward several years with proper cellaring.

Bottle sickness- Travel shock. A temporary condition characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines are shaken in travel. Rest is the cure!!

Bottled by - Means the wine could have been purchased ready-made and simply bottled by the brand owner, or made under contract by another winery. When the label reads "produced and bottled by" or "made and bottled by" it means the winery produced the wine from start to finish.

Bouquet - The smell of a finished wine. May be affected by time spent in the bottle.

Bright - Perfectly clear wine with no suspended particles. Bright colour is an important pointer to wine quality, except in premium red wine where some crust can be expected to form after bottle maturation.

Briary - Describes young wines with an earthy or stemmy wild berry character. Often found in Zinfandels!

Brilliant - Describes the appearance of very clear wines with absolutely no visible suspended or particulate matter. Not always a plus, as it can indicate a highly filtered wine.

Brix - A measurement of the sugar content of grapes, must and wine, indicating the degree of the grapes' ripeness (meaning sugar level) at harvest. Most table-wine grapes are harvested at between 21 and 25 Brix. To get an alcohol conversion level, multiply the stated Brix by 0.55.

Browning - Describes a wine's color, and is a sign that a wine is mature and may be faded. Could be a bad sign in young wines, but less significant in older wines. Older wines may have a brownish edge yet still be enjoyable. Sometimes this brownish edge will look brick colored.

Brut - Dry, usually applied to sparkling wines. Commercial brut styles now have a small amount of 'liqueuring' added to sweeten the wine somewhat, hence the growth of the term brut-de-brut, suggesting that the wine is fully dry.

Bud - A small protuberance on a stem or branch, often enclosed in protective scales and containing an undeveloped shoot, leaves or flowers.

Bud Break - When the first shoots emerge on a vine after winter dormancy.

Bung - Barrel stopper made of glass, plastic, rubber, silicone or other material which seals the bung-hole in the barrel like a cork. Can be removed to permit topping up or racking. The position of the bung-hole can be changed to maximize or reduce aeration.

Burnt - Describes wines that have an overdone, smoky, toasty or singed edge. Also used to describe overripe grapes.

Buttery - Indicates the smell of melted butter or toasty oak. Also a reference to texture, as in "a rich, buttery Chardonnay."

Glossary of Wine Terms - C -

AA - BB - CC - DD - EE - FF - GG - HH - IJ - JJ - KJ - LJ - MM - NN - OO - PP - QQ - RR - SS - TT - UU - VU - WW - XW - YW - ZW

Cabernet Franc - Cabernet Franc is best known for its role mainly as a blending variety with Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is typically perfumed and aromatic, with the flavours of dark cherries.

Cabernet Sauvignon - A variety of red grape used to produce high quality red wine. The aroma is often described as being "dusty", "blackcurrant" or "cassis" and it can take on the aroma of capsicum in cooler areas. Usually blended with Merlot, another red variety, which can add more fruit flavour and a soft, velvety texture. Merlot is said to "fill out" the typical Cabernet palate. "Cabernet Merlot", which is often seen on modern wine labels is a blend of the two varieties.

Carbonic Maceration - Fermentation of whole, uncrushed grapes in a carbon dioxide atmosphere. In practice, the weight of the upper layers of grapes in a vat will break the skins of the lowest layer; the resultant wine is partly a product of carbonic maceration and partly of traditional fermentation of juice.

Cassis - A liquor made in France from blackcurrants. The aroma of cassis is attributed to quality Cabernet Sauvignon.

Castello - The Italian word for castle; refers to a wine estate, such as Castello d'Albola.

Cask number - A meaningless term sometimes used for special wines.

Cayuga - An American hybrid grape (developed in New York) Wines are generally made in a style similar to the Rieslings of Germany.

Cedare - Denotes the smell of cedar wood associated with mature Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends aged in French or American oak.

Cellared by - Means the wine was not produced at the winery where it was bottled. It usually indicates that the wine was purchased from another source.

Chambourcin - produces a medium-bodied dry wine with a fruity aroma and cherry and earthy/spicy complexities.

Champagne - A wine region in France. May also refer to sparkling wines made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and vinified using the Méthode Champenoise winemaking process. Term is sometimes used to refer to sparkling wines from different regions, but correctly, only sparkling wine from Champagne may be called Champagne. See also methode champenoise.

Chaptalization - The addition of sugar to juice before and/or during fermentation, used to boost sugar levels in underripe grapes and alcohol levels in the subsequent wines. Common in northern European countries, where the cold climates may keep grapes from ripening.

Chardonel - A hybrid of Chardonnay and Seyval grapes

Chardonnay - A premium white wine variety that has only gained popularity in Australia in the past twenty years. It is most fascinating for the different ways it can be made which affect its flavour and structure. The most complex Chardonnays require a considerable amount of handling. (eg. fermentation in barrel, stirring of yeast lees, etc.) Usually made without the addition of other varieties except in Methode Champenoise sparkling wines, in which Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is a classic blend. Chardonnay is responsible for some of the finest white wines in the world.

Charmat - Mass production method for sparkling wine. Indicates the wines are fermented in large stainless steel tanks and later drawn off into the bottle under pressure. Also known as the "bulk process." See also methode champenoise.

Charry - Aromas and flavors of a toasty nature created by the application of oak barrel aging to the wine.

Château - A French winery estate, typically found in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, the architecture of châteaux can range from grand to mundane.

Chenin Blanc - In its native home around the great chateaux and ancient towns of the Loire Valley (France), Chenin Blanc is the principal white grape variety and the backbone of Vouvray (dry, semi-sweet or sweet) and Vouvray Mousseux, a sparkling wine. It has performed well in its adopted home, where surprisingly it is still regarded as a cinderella variety.

Chewy - Describes rich, heavy, tannic wines that are full-bodied.

Cigar box - Another descriptor for a cedary aroma.

Classico - Italian term indicating that wine comes from the heart of a specific region. While Chianti Classico is a demarcated DOCG district, the Classico for Verdicchio, for example, refers to the central part of the appellation.

Clean - Fresh taste or aroma with no defects.

Clone - A group of vines originating from a single, individual plant propagated asexually from a single source.

Closed - Describes wines that are concentrated and have character, yet are shy in aroma or flavor. Can often open up upon aging and development!

Cloudiness - Lack of clarity to the eye due to sediments or particulates in the wine. Old wines with sediment are OK, but it can be an indication of a flawed product in young wines.

Cloying - Describes ultra-sweet or sugary wines that lack the balance provided by acid, alcohol, bitterness or intense flavor.

Coarse - Usually refers to texture, and in particular, excessive tannin or oak. Also used to describe harsh bubbles in sparkling wines.

Cold stabilisation - A clarification technique in which a wine's temperature is lowered to 32 degrees; F, causing the tartrates and other insoluble solids to precipitate.

Colheita - Term used in Port winemaking referring to vintage.

Colour - In wine, an extremely important indicator of quality and condition. Darker colours in whites usually indicate older wines, while red wines tend to lighten and tawny with age.

Compact - Wine described as intense but not full.

Complex - Opposite of simple. A wine that has a lot going on.

Complexity - An element in all great wines and many very good ones; a combination of richness, depth, flavor intensity, focus, balance, harmony and finesse.

Commune - Typically refers to a wine-growing village in the Burgundy region of France.

Coonawarra - Australian wine region in the southeast of South Australia, not far from the Victorian border. Cool, and produces some of the best red wines in Australia, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cooperage - Collective term for wooden containers; also used to refer to the activities and workplace of coopers, who make and repair small barrels and large wooden vats.

Corked - A wine whose quality is affected by contamination from the cork. This produces a sharp taste and aroma's not unlike nail polish. A surprisingly high percentage of wine is affected by this problem. The problem has been traced to a chemical compound - TCA or trichloranisole - sometimes resulting from the chlorine treatment applied to raw cork bark sheets in the manufacturing process. The cork makers righteously insist that TCA can be engendered in a number of other ways. If you encounter it, re-cork and return the bottle to the place of purchase, explain the fault and they will replace it.

Cortese - A grape variety new in Australia (Lost Valley Wines) and is famous for the great Piedmontese white called Gavi di Gavi.

Creamy - Wines, particularly barrel-fermented Chardonnay that has undergone a secondary, malolactic fermentation, that have a rich, smooth mouthfeel and are fuller in body are often characterized as creamy.

Crisp - Describes wines that are clean, and possibly a bit on the tart side. Opposite of soft. Wines that are crisp are typically higher in acid, and go well with food.

Crush - Harvest season when the grapes are picked and crushed.

Cuvee - A blend or special lot of wine.

Cynthiana a.k.a. Norton - A native American grape, that produces a rich, full-bodied red wine with character that is often compared with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Glossary of Wine Terms - D -

AA - BB - CC - DD - EE - FF - GG - HH - IJ - JJ - KJ - LJ - MM - NN - OO - PP - QQ - RR - SS - TT - UU - VU - WW - XW - YW - ZW

Decanting - A process for separating the sediment from a wine before drinking. Accomplished by slowly and carefully pouring the wine from its bottle into another container. Also used to air a young wine that is a little closed.

Delicate - Used to describe light- to medium-weight wines with good flavors. A desirable quality in wines such as Pinot Noir or Riesling.

Demi sec - In the language of Champagne, a term relating to sweetness. It can be misleading; although demi-sec means half-dry, demi-sec sparkling wines are usually slightly sweet to medium sweet.

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