Wine Terms every Wine Lover Should Know

The world of wine can sometimes seem like it has its own special language – and yes, it does! So if you enjoy drinking the special grape juice, it only makes sense that you brush up on your wine jargon.

Let’s get started!

1. Ageing 

Today, most wines are sold when ready to drink. However, in the case of reserve-style wines, especially reds, bottle maturation could well add to their ultimate enjoyment. To establish the ideal time to enjoy a wine, I recommend that you monitor it by opening a bottle from the case every 6 months or alternatively, consult the winery.

2. Balance

This to me is one of the primary requirements for wine enjoyment. The term relates to the way in which the various attributes such as alcohol, acidity, tannin, fruit and wood (if used) are combined. Excessive amounts of any one of these ingredients will cause disharmony on the palate, while complete harmony indicates a wine of good quality.

3. Malolactic Fermentation 

What does this term imply and how does the process influence the taste of a wine? Malolactic fermentation is a natural process that sometimes occurs spontaneously after the normal fermentation of wine. The result is a softer acidity, often considered desirable, particularly in red wines.

4. Noble Rot

Noble Rot refers to grapes affected by the fungus Botrytis Cinerea. It spoils the grapes if they are damaged by rain, but if they are ripe and healthy, and the weather is sunny, it causes the grapes to shrivel and concentrate the sugar, so that top quality sweet wines can be created.

5. Toast 

What is the origin of the expression ‘drinking a toast’? During the 17th century it was the custom to give the name of a lady or a cause to a spiced piece of toasted bread, which was then floated on the surface of the wine in the glass. This was perceived as linking the wine with the particular person or cause! Today, toasts area celebratory expression of friendship, thanks, praise or good wishes.

6. Varietal

This term refers to the wines made from a single grape variety, e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Wines containing more than one variety (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) are known as blends.

7. Yield 

Yield is generally seen as a quality factor: the lower the yield the more concentrated the flavours. According to Richard Gawel “The relationship between wine quality and grape yield is the stuff of which wine legend is made.” I couldn’t agree more: The greatest wines of the world all originate from lower-yielding vines. At the same time however, it is true that a low yield in itself will not ensure wine quality.

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