Anthocyanins: Tannin pigments in the skin of red grape. Anthocyanins are the source of the colour of all red wines.
Barrique: 225-litre oak barrel, used in Bordeaux. Currently this type of barrels is used all over the world by winemakers.
Purification: A traditional method for purifying wine. Winemakers employ various purifying agents depending on the objectives. Purifying agents are insoluble and have the capability to tie to specific components of wine and settle down. Purification allows to adjust tannins in wine, and to separate unstable proteins or pigments.
Tartaric acid: This is the main acid contained in wine. A quantity of about o.5 g/l is considered as normal for wine.
Carbonic maceration: A fermentation method, which takes place inside the fruit in an atmosphere saturated with carbon dioxide. The red wines obtained in this way have fruity characteristics and do not have a significant potential for aging.
Grape pulp: It is obtained as a result of crushing. It represents a mixture of grape skins, seeds, must and pulp.
Grape must: This just the juice of the grape, separated from the skin, the seeds and the pulp. It may contain whole grapes or clusters. Informally, the terms “juice”, “must” etc. are used as synonyms.
Decanting: A process of separation of must or wine from sediments. It is often used instead of a slight filtering.
Marc: The remains from the processing of grape. It includes clusters, seeds, and skins, sometimes pulp and yeast cells. Usually marc is subjected to distillation.
Wild yeast: Wild yeast is nothing more that the yeast found naturally on the grape skin. It was these micro organisms that have been used for centuries for fermentation of wines both in the Old and in the New World countries. There are still wineries, which use this method.
Yeast autolysis: The decomposition of yeast during storage above the sediment is related to the emission of substances, which improve sensory qualities and complexity.
Fill-up: Part of the water or alcohol evaporated during storage, thus slightly raising the concentration of wine and creating an empty space in the vessel. The vessel is periodically filled up with a wine of the same quality from a different vessel in order to avoid harmful exposure to oxygen.
Elementary sulphur: A substance, which is used as a means for control of oidium in vineyards.
Oenologist: A person, dealing with wine and wine making studies.
Oenology: The science of wine.
Cropping: The introduction of a special yeast or bacterial culture into the grape must or pulp.
Clarification: A process related to the removal of sediments – dead yeast cells, remnants from clusters and skin, seeds, grape must pulp or wine. The rate of clarification depends mostly on temperature, time, the presence of diluted gas etc.
Acidity: Acidity is related to the natural freshness of wine. The tartaric and carboxylic acids are the main acids contained in grape. Citric, lactic and succinic acids are also present in small quantities.
Complexity: The term covers all taste and aroma characteristics, which have been obtained as a result of grape quality, the employed winemaking techniques, and the processes taking place in wine inside the bottle.
Yeast culture: Also referred to as “clean yeast culture”. These are yeast strains isolated in laboratory conditions. Usually they are resistant to high alcohol and sulphur dioxide content levels in must or grape pulp. Widely used in contemporary winemaking industry.
Volatile acidity: Related primarily to the quantity of acetic acid. The increase of volatile acidity may be caused by the emergence of bacteria in the wine as a result of contact with air. Small quantities of volatile acidity enhance the aroma.
Lignin: This is the “glue” of the structural elements of wood. The vanilla aroma is closely linked to lignin. It influences colour and contributes to a slow and slight oxidation, which amalgamates the aromas and increases the complexity of wine.
Crushing: The purpose of crushing is to separate the grape pulp contained in the grape by tearing the fruit skin. Depending on the technology, crushing may be of various levels of intensity and may be omitted as a processing stage.
Infusion: A continuous contact of the grape must with the skins, which results in the extraction of aromas, colour and tannins. Infusion is performed before or after fermentation. The term “maceration” is a synonym of infusion.
On-cork: A supplementary characteristics of wines, emerging due to low-quality corks. It is caused by the chemical compound tri-chloro-anysole (TCA). TCA reduces the fruity character of wine, yielding instead a by-taste of mould, mildew or old towels.
Capping: Pumping out of the fermenting red wine over the cap in order to obtain additional taste, colour and tannin.
Oxidation: The chemical interaction between wine and air oxygen. When left uncontrolled, oxidation may cause a change in aroma, colour and taste.
Acetic acid: Contained in small quantities in all wines. At higher concentrations it causes sharpness and an acetic taste and aroma.
Burning: Raising the temperature of the inside of the barrel during manufacturing. The level of burning strongly affects the taste and the aroma of wine during fermentation or aging in barrels. Experienced winemakers use various ratios of barrels with different levels of burning in order to achieve a higher complexity of wine.
Pressing: Wine or must. Obtained after the separation of free flow after pressing the marc.
Wine press: Used to separate must or wine from marc. The most widely used type is the screw wine press. its principle is dated back to more than five centuries. It has proven its qualities and is still used by some winemakers. Currently, pneumatic and vacuum winepresses are used. They allow for the easiest possible process of pressing.
рH: An indicator of the acidity of wine. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity.
Reductability: Related to the emergence of unpleasant smells because of the presence of hydrogen sulphide. The smell of rotten eggs indicates an advanced stage of reductability.
Separation: The process of separation of the grape from the grape clusters. Most often the process is performed mechanically. Some specific technologies for producing special wines may not require separation.
Free-run: Must or wine, which flow out from a vessel (tank, press etc.) under the natural weight of grape. Free-run is of a higher quality than pressed musts or wines.
Low-temperature stabilization: Reducing the temperature of the wine before bottling with the objective to set the harmless crystals of tartaric acid.
Sulphur dioxide: Perhaps the most widely used additive in winemaking. Used to protect wine from oxidation and microbiological activity.
Barrel aging: The process of storing wine in oak barrels with the objective to perform the process of transformation of the taste and the aromatic substances.
Aging Sur Lie: In translation this means “aging over sediment”. The term “in contact with yeast” is also frequently used. Wine is aged in barrels while keeping the yeasts, which had caused its fermentation, inside. This improves the complexity and the softness of wine.
Variety character: The characteristics, which are typical for an individual grape variety.
Stable wine: All processes, including decanting, filtering and purification aim at achieving a final product, which will be able to preserve its characteristics without yielding to harmful processes after bottling, for instance early darkening, the formation of tartaric crystals or protein opalescence.
Dry wine: Wine, which has fermented until the complete conversion of the initial quantity of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Tannins: This is a group of substances, which is subject to intensive discussions in winemakers’ circles. They are contained in the skin and the seeds. Tannins slow down wine oxidation due to their ability to oxidize very quickly. Tannins assist aging partially due to the same reason, and also because they interact with time and lose their tartness and roughness, thus giving the wine a softer finishing.
Tartaric crystals: The tartaric acid forms crystals when cooled. These crystals stick to the cork or form sediment in the bottle. The crystals of tartaric acid are not seen as a deficiency by people with a higher culture in the sphere of oenology.
Terroir: This is е a French concept. The term covers the environment for vine growing and includes climate (temperature and rains), sunlight and exposure to the sun, the relief (altitude, hills, and orientation), the geology, paedology and interaction between soil and water. Most of the well known wine regions in Europe are classified in terms of this principle.
Titric acidity: Also known as “total acidity”. Indicates the quantity of acids in wine.
Phenols: A large group of substances found in grape and wine, which determine the colour, the structure and the aroma. Tannins are a part of this larger group.
Barrel fermentation: The transformation of grape must into white wine in a barrel. It allows achieving a higher complexity and an integral oak taste. This practice is typical for making Chardonnay wines.
Filtering: Related to the passing of wine through a filter. Wines with residual sugar must be filtered to remove yeast and avoid secondary fermentation in the bottle. White wines are usually filtered through a membrane filter with a size of the pores of 0.45 microns in order to achieve a shiny colour and exclude all micro organisms from the bottle. Red wines, because of the characteristics, are subjected to a rougher filtration.
Barrel characteristics: The taste and the aromatic components, which the barrel transfers to wine. The characteristics of the barrel depend on the source of the wood and the technology, which included also the aging of oak timber and the manner of burning. The age of the barrel is also important for its characteristics.
Cap: The mass or grape skin formed during fermentation of the grape pulp.
Chaptalization: The adding of sugar to the fermenting must with the objective to raise the alcoholic content of wine. This practice is not allowed in the Old World countries. In Italy, winemakers use must concentration instead of using sugar. The process is more widely used in France and Germany. The first official permit for this practice was granted by the director-general of commerce and manufactures and a Minister of State in the Napoleon Cabinet Jean-Antoine Chaptal.
Carboxylic acid: Causes the green and sour taste of wines made of unripe grape.
Carboxylic-lactic fermentation: Bacterial transformation of the sharper carboxylic acid into the softer lactic acid. As a result of this transformation wine become more “complex” and with a softer acidity. The process is also referred to as “lactic fermentation”, or – more infrequently – as “secondary fermentation”.
On most general terms, wine sampling means appraisal of wine, with impressions formed on the basis of visual, olfactory and taste estimates.
Here are some basic wine sampling rules:
Assess the colour!
Start by placing the glass against a white background in a well lit room. Observe the cleanness and the depth of the colour. Wines must be transparent rather than opaque and must demonstrate an intensive colour. The colour id directly linked to the grape variety. It is a result also of the contact between must and the grape skin during the technological process. The quality of grape and of the technological methods used for processing may be judged by the colour. White wine like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc may have a pale-greenish colour with grey tints, a straw-yellow or golden colour or even brown colour. Sweeter wines like Muscat usually have deeper yellow tints. The red Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlo or Gamza may be purple, ruby, brownish red or brick red. Red wine loses some of its colour with aging and attains a brick-brownish tint.
Smell the wine!
Most of our taste perceptions depend on our ability to smell things. Rotate the glass, so that wine could release its bouquet and aromas. The bouquet refers to smells imparted as a result of technological solutions, while the aroma depends on the grape variety. More smells are emitted with the rotation of the glass. Now smell the wine and try to associate the aromas. Herbs? Freshly cut grass? Tobacco? Leather? Strawberries? Black fruits? These associations help transforming wine sampling into fun and may be a very valuable tool for remembering wines and discussing them afterwards.
Taste the wine!
Olfaction serves during wine sampling as means to identify the aroma and to create an initial impression, while the taste assessment involves a judgement about the consistence of a wine. These two stages are actually linked. Make a simple experiment – taste the wine while holding your nose closed. You would hardly notice any aroma. In order to taste the wine, take a sip and hold it in your mouth. The different sections of the thumb register different tastes – sweetness is felt by the tip of the tongue, acids are felt by the upper edges, bitterness is felt with the back of the tongue, the dry tannins are felt by the inside of the cheeks, while the high alcohol content creates the impression of sharpness at the front of the throat. Leave the wine flowing around your tongue and note the structure or the perceptions, with which the wine fills your mouth. Balanced wines demonstrate a harmony of several components: aroma, acids, tannins, fruits and sweetness. Acidity provides for a pleasant but not overpowering astringency. Balanced tannins deliver a pleasant tartness (this slightly „frowning“ feeling) – this is one of the reasons that makes red wines more suitable for foods, which are rich in fats. Tannins in red wines purge the feeling of „fatness“ in your mouth after each bite and prepare the taste preceptors for enjoying the next.
And finally, what is the taste that wine leaved in your mouth after you swallow it and how long does this taste persist? This is the finishing of the wine. The clean, fresh and balanced finishing is a characteristic of high-quality wines.
The ideal temperature for storing wine is from 13 to 15OC. Lower temperatures would slow down aging, and will increase complexity and would underline the variety characteristics of wine with the passage of time. High temperatures accelerate aging and do not allow the wine to develop its complexity with time. Temperature variations result in expansion and shrinking of wine in the bottles. This has the effect of a piston and the cork is sucked in or pushed out, which may expose wine to oxygen.
Humidity is also of a major importance fro proper storage. A humidity of above 80 percent might result in the quick development of mould, while extremely dry conditions might enhance evaporation and its exposure to oxygen, which is harmful.
Wine, stored in the dark, has more chances to preserve its clarity. Light affects the proteins in wine and results in the formation of opalescence as well as in other unwanted effects like side aromas and tastes.
Cellars provide the best conditions for storing wine due to the low and constant temperature and the darkness. If the house has no cellar, then a rarely used closet could do the job as well. It you intend to create a large wine collection and do not have a suitable place for storage, then you might acquire a storage system. They offer a perfect isolation, as well as a regulated environment in terms of temperature and humidity.
In order to educate yourselves in wine aging, you should by one or two boxes of wine with a potential for aging. The wines from our wine cellar that we could recommend are the Limited Selection Cabernet, the Limited Selection Merlot or our reserve wines. Store the wine properly, take out a bottle from time to time and drink it. It would be good to keep a record in terms of aroma, taste and tartness.