GLOSSARY

ACIDITY

This typically means the amount of perceived acid in a wine. Wine by nature is an acid, with a pH of between 2.9 and 4.2. Those wines that age longer tend to have a lower pH, or greater acidity.

ALCOHOL

The amount of alcohol expressed as a percent. Remember though, there is give and take on the alcohol labels on the wines as there is a normal amount of variance in any processed product, especially an organic one. If a wine label states 13.9%, it could have as little as 13.2% or as much as 14.6 percent and still be within the allowed tolerance. Also see Ethanol.

AROMA

The different scents as detected by both nose and mouth. This is one of the more subjective areas of wine tasting and is often times specified as fruit, flowers, plants, herbs, vegetables, woods, spices and minerals. Examples would be cherry, tobacco, vanilla and cassis.

AVA aka American Viticulture Area

These are areas that are defined by boundaries that tell of the soil and climate characteristics of a certain area. There are AVAs that utilize existing political boundaries, like Santa Barbara County, or there are many that have more granularly defined areas, like the St. Helena AVA with the Napa Valley. The concept for those not using political boundaries is that the microclimate and soil compositions make these areas unique, thus wines from these AVAs carry those characteristics into the bottle wine as well. For a full list of AVAs, see the official TTB List of AVAs

BOUTIQUE WINERY

This normally reflects a smaller winery and small case production. It is important to bear in mind that this is largely a relative term. For instance, a boutique winery in Napa Valley may make 5,000 cases per year whereas in Oregon, that may be considered a larger winery and what is a boutique winery in Oregon may only produce 500 cases

BRIX

Expressed in Degrees Brix, this is basically the amount of sugar content in the fruit at the time of harvest. Multiplying this number roughly by .6 will tell you the maximum amount of alcohol that can be yielded from the fruit. For instance, if fruit was picked at 24 degrees Brix, you would not expect that the alcohol content could exceed 14%. Typically, fruit is picked between 24 and 28 degrees Brix.

COMPLEXITY

This term indicates how well the components of the wine are interwoven and assembled in layers of tastes and aromas. A more complex wine is often thought of to be superior to a simple wine, though this can be subjective as well to some extent.

DRY

This reflects the amount of sugar that has not been converted to alcohol. A wine is said to be bone dry if there is no unconverted sugar, that is to say, all sugar has been converted to alcohol in the fermentation process. If there is a little sugar left, like 1%, it is said to be “off-dry” to “semi-sweet” capped off at around 4% to “sweet “ for anything above 4%. It is not uncommon for late harvest or dessert wines to contain 10% to 15% sugar.

ESTATE BOTTLED

This means that the wine was bottled on the winery premise.

ESTATE FRUIT OR ESTATE WINE

This simply means that the fruit used for the wine was grown on property owned by the winery. A winery can have multiple estates. The perceived advantage here is that if a winery can control the crop meticulously as it is fully under their control, they have the greater opportunity to yield consistent fruit thus consistent wines year after year.

ETHANOL aka ETHYL ALCOHOL

In wine terms, it is the alcohol generated through the fermentation process of culturing yeast under favorable thermal conditions. A wine under 18% alcohol content with significant residual sugars runs the risk of a second fermentation if not stable, resulting in spoiled wine.

FANCIFUL

This is a name other than the varietal, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. This can be driven from blends as well, as in most wines, in order to be able to call a wine “Cabernet Sauvignon”, it must be at least 75% from that particular grape. An example of fanciful names might be “Old Car Red” or “Danielle’s Delight”, as these names do not indicate a specific grape varietal.

FILTERED

Wine is run through a filter, removing physical particulates to maximize clarity. Of late, it is a more common practice than ever to not filter wines in order to reduce the handling and thus preserving more of the characteristics.

FINED

Fining is the process associated with removing unwanted excessive tannins by use of egg whites or diatomaceous earth.

FINISH

This is a description of how the wine leaves your palate. It can range from smooth and pleasant to having an unfavorable taste that lingers. Along with the finish, “short” and “long” describe the length of time flavors endure.

FORMAT (or BOTTLE SIZE)

These are the differently sized wine bottles. They are measured in milliliters (mL) or liters (L). The most common size is the 750mL bottle or “Standard”. There are two smaller bottle sizes, the 175mL “half bottle” and the 87mL “Split”. There are a number of larger bottles starting with the 1.5L magnum which is equivalent to two 750mL bottles. Then there is the 3L called either a “Jeroboam “ or “Double Magnum”, and a 4.5L “Rehoboam”. A 6L bottle is called a “Methuselah” followed by the 9L “Mordechai” or “Salmanazar”. The 12L bottle is called “Balthazar” and the 15L is called “Nebuchadnezzar”. The largest of them all is the 30L bottle named “Melchiizedek”.

FREE SULFITES

Sulfite particles that are not bound molecules are “free”. When these exceed 30PPM (Parts Per Million), they tend to provide a nasal sharpness when the wine is sniffed and may yield an unpleasant feeling. At WineMatch, we measure free sulfites. Wines low in free sulfites are indicated as such in the lower right hand corner below the WineMatch Wheel.

FRUIT

The amount of fruit that is discerned from tasting or drinking the wine. Descriptively, it can be a number of different fruit flavors such as cherry, cassis, apricot, peach, passion fruit, and so forth.

LABELING LAWS

There are many items governing wine labeling. One of importance is a basic rule that states a wine needs to contain 75% of a particular varietal (90% for some varietals in Oregon) to be able to call it by that varietal name. For instance, if it is 80% Merlot you can call it Merlot. But if there is only 60% Merlot, meaning that no other varietal will be greater than 40%, this will be considered a blend and will likely go by a fanciful name, such “Mostly Merlot” . More details on labeling laws are on the government labeling website that dictates labeling requirements.

LATE HARVEST

This is the practice where fruit is left hanging beyond the optimum volume of water to sugar to allow some off the water to evaporate and dissipate, leaving you with a significantly higher concentration of sugar. This creates a much sweeter wine, referred to as a late harvest wine.

ML FERMENTATION

Is a process where tart malic acid is converted into softer lactic acid, creating a fuller mouthfeel. Not all wines go through malolactic fermentation but most red wines do and many, but not all whites. If you taste a buttery Chardonnay, it will have gone through malolactic fermentation.

MATCH

A unique WineMatch term. A wine is said to be a match when it contains sixteen to twenty points of matching that include sensory, chemistry and other wine information.

OAK

The wood on the vessel in which wine is aged after fermentation for periods ranging from one month to four years or more - usually indicated in months. A typical 59-gallon oak barrel will originate from America, France or Hungary. The most famous of these being French for their heavy vanilla influence and sweetness. This barrel aging process allows the wine to concentrate its flavor and aroma compounds, while imparting flavors from the oak barrel, including the compound vanillin. An oak barrel can also impart flavors of caramel, smoke and spice including cinnamon and cloves. Barrels are “toasted” inside in varying degrees to impart different flavors as well. An oak barrel only imparts flavors its first three years, with most of the flavors being imparted the first year, commonly referred to as “new oak”

REGION

The Region of the United States that is a larger geographic summary area, such as Northern California Coastal or Eastern Washington. AVAs and larger political boundaries like counties are contained within Regions when viewed in summary.

RELEASE DATE

The official date a wine is released for sale to the public.

PROFILE DATE

The actual date that WineMatch ran the wine through its process. The entire process happens within an hour so that sensory and chemistry components are in harmony throughout the process.

SHIP STATES

These are the states that wineries are legally allowed to ship directly to consumers - which is found at the bottom left of every wine profile page. Since Prohibition in 1919, the interstate commerce of alcoholic beverages was ceased. Slowly and over time, states have opened up to allow transportation of alcohol; though is a tedious and costly process as wineries must apply on a ‘per state’ basis or use an authorized third party transport company,

SIMILAR WINE

A WineMatch term that means a wine whose chemically influenced sensory values are very close to one another. It is second closest in characteristics next to a “Match”

SINGLE VINEYARD

The practice of bottling a wine using fruit from a single designated vineyard. The idea here is that in using fruit from a very specific area a winery can control the characteristics from year to year to achieve greater consistency in addition to the special designation.

SIP (Sustainability in Practice)

is a program that recognizes certain ways of farming and winemaking practices by wineries in ensuring that these processes lend themselves to and tie strongly to sustainability and consideration for the environment. More on SIP.

TANNINS

Sometimes referred to as astringency in wine. Too strong of tannins can make a wine harsh. Fining a wine is a process of removing excessive tannins due to either a varietal that tends to be tannic like Petite Sirah, or a lower quality or over-pressed fruit. Tannins come primarily from the skins and seeds in grapes.

TTB aka Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

The official government body that regulates wine labeling, AVA designations and taxation of wine and other beverages and goods. https://www.ttb.gov/

VARIETAL

The actual name of the grapes typically from the Vitis vinifera or Vitis labrusca species that are used for winemaking. Varietal names include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and hundreds. For a complete list, see De Long’s Table.

VINTAGE

The year that the grapes were harvested for the wine. If multiple years or grape harvests were used and blended, the wine is considered to be NV or Non-Vintage.

WHEELPLAY

A proprietary tool of WIneMatch that allows a consumer to adjust sensory values to assist in finding wines to their liking. See WheelPlay.com or click on “Show WheelPlay” anywhere on the WineMatch.com site.

WINE PROFILE

A proprietary term that indicates the full wine composition and process information to give the consumer all the information on a specific wine. See this sample profile.

WINE WEDNESDAY (#WW on Twitter)

This is the phenomenon of a social media spot for wine lovers. Simply say “Happy #WW” to those you love using your twitter account and don't forget to add “#wine” at the end!