This volatile acid is one that contributes to the acidity of a wine. In small amounts it can also “lift” the palate and accentuate aroma and flavor. In excess it produces a vinegary taste. It may also be the product of bacterial spoilage, which is how wine turns to vinegar if left unprotected from such bacteria.
Term used on labels to express the total acid content of the wine. The acids referred to are acetic, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric. Desirable acid content of dry wines falls between 0.6% and 0.75% of the wine’s volume. For sweet wines it should not be less than 0.70% of the volume. This is the quality of wine that gives it its crispiness and vitality. A proper balance of acidity must be struck with the other elements of a wine, or else the wine may be said to be too sharp - having disproportionately high levels of acidity - or too flat - having disproportionately low levels of acidity.
Term used to describe the taste left in the mouth after swallowing the wine. Both character and length of the aftertaste are part of the total evaluation. May be harsh, hot, soft and lingering, short, smooth, tannic, or nonexistent.
White wines tend to turn from a greenish hue in young wines to a yellowish caste/tone to a gold/amber color as they age. Reds usually possess a purple tone when young, turning to a deep red - (Bordeaux wines) - or a brick red color - (Burgundy wines) - detectable at the surface edge in a wineglass as they age. Rosés should be pink, with no tinge of yellow or orange. Cellar-aged red wines at their peak will show a deep golden-orange color as it thins at the surface edge. If the wine color has deepened into a distinctly brown-orange tint at the edge it usually indicates a wine past its peak and declining.
There are many different compounds that may be described as “alcohol.” Here we are referring to ethyl alcohol, the product of alcoholic fermentation of sugar by yeast. Its presence is measured in percent volume (or "proof").
The action of yeast upon sugar results in its conversion to ethyl alcohol, with carbon dioxide as a by-product. Fermentation will often start naturally with yeasts on the grapes, but cultured yeasts may be added. The process generates much heat, and temperature control during alcoholic fermentation can have a significant effect on the style of wine produced. The process will cease either when all the sugar has been consumed, or more likely when the increasing alcohol content of the fermenting solution kills the yeast, or when the external temperature drops too low. It may also be arrested by adding sulphur or by fortification with spirit.
Means “bitter,” hence the wine “Amarone.”
The total effect of dominant, tart-edged flavors and taste impressions in many young dry wines. Has opposite meaning to round, soft or supple.
A geographically- based term to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown.
Refers to smell or aroma of a wine, usually carrying additional modifiers. "Ripe apples" describes a full, fruity, clean smell associated with some styles of Chardonnay. "Fresh apples" does the same for some types of Riesling. "Green apple," however, is almost always reserved for wines made from barely ripe or underipe grapes, while "stale apples" applies almost exclusively to flawed wine exhibiting first stage oxidation.
The intensity and character of the aroma can be assessed with nearly any descriptive adjective (e.g.: from "appley" to "raisin-like," "fresh" to "tired", etc.). Usually refers to the particular smell of the grape variety. The word "bouquet" is usually restricted to describing the aroma of a cellar-aged bottled wine.
The term used to mark the presence of acetic acid and ethyl acetate. Detected by sweet and sour, sometimes vinegary smell and taste along with a sharp feeling in the mouth.
Descriptive of wines that have a rough, pucker taste. Usually it can be attributed to high tannin content. Tannic astringency will normally decrease with age. However, sometimes the wine fails to outlive the tannin.
The initial impact of a wine. If not strong or flavorful, the wine is considered "feeble." "Feeble" wines are sometimes encountered among those vinified in a year in which late rain just before harvest diluted desirable grape content.
The wine taster liked it anyway. A veiled criticism of expensive wines, and a compliment for others.
Usually used in description of dry, relatively hard and acidic wines that seems to lack depth and roundness. Such wines may soften a bit with age. The term often applies to wines made from noble grape varieties grown in cool climates, or harvested too early in the season.
Azienda agricola (Italy)
An estate or farm where wine can be produced.