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Wine Glossary

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This is the contact between grape skins and the must during fermentation, which extracts tannins and other aromas. See also cuvaison.

A tasting term, generally for white wines, that are probably oxidised and therefore faulty. The resemblance to Madeira comes from the fact that oxidation is an intrinsic aspect of this unique wine. Oxidation occurs as the wines are heated in the estufa, so it may be that wines that taste Madeirised have been the victim of poor storage.
The process of ‘Madeirisation’ consists of subjecting the wine to a high temperature for a period of some months in buildings called estufas. This heating is meant to duplicate the effect of a long sea voyage of wine in barrels on deck through tropical climates.

Needed for the growth of the yeast, but it is present in most ingredients. Usually added as Epsom salts in small doses.

A large bottle equivalent to two standard bottles.

Malic Acid
The main acid of apples and also one of the acids found in grapes.
It encourages rapid fermentation and assists in producing aroma and flavour. Malic acid has a sharp, green taste - rather like the tangy freshness of a green apple. This may be desirable in some white wines but in others, and in most reds, it is not. This is why winemakers encourage its conversion to lactic acid with the malolactic fermentation.

Malolactic Fermentation
This process is completely separate from alcoholic fermentation, which results from the action of yeast upon sugar, producing alcohol. Malolactic fermentation is a bacterial process that results in conversion of the sharp tasting malic acid to the softer lactic acid. A winemaker may permit or block malolactic fermentation depending on the style of wine being produced. Most red wines, and some whites wines, undergo malolactic fermentation.

The skins, stalks, and pips (seeds) that remain after making wine. This is also called Pomace.

The process the wine goes through from the end of fermentation to the time of drinking.

A name given to either Sodium or Potassium Metabisulphite. It is a popular sterilising ingredient made up as a solution for sterilising both ingredients and equipment. It inhibits yeast growth and reduces oxidation when racking.

Methanol : Methanol is wood alcohol, and is poisonous. It is made normally from wood, coal or natural gas. This is NOT the kind of alcohol created in winemaking.

A large Burgundy and Champagne bottle, equivalent to eight standard bottles. In Bordeaux this size is known as an Imperiale.

This is a tasting term. After taking a mouthful the wine is held it in the mouth to judge how the flavour, texture, tannins and acidity develop. Describing your immediate impression is the wine's entry. The wine is then swallowed to judge the finish and length.

A tasting term that describes how fizzy a sparkling wine seems in the mouth. A soft mousse is not too fizzy whereas a harsh mousse is too fizzy, like a carbonated soft drink.

Mulled Wine
Wine that has spice added then heated, and served as a punch.

The name given to the fermenting liquid before it has been converted into wine. It is the mixture of fermenting grape juice, pips, skins, stalks and so on. It is distinct from marc, which is all of these once the grape juice has been removed.


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