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Finger Lakes Wine and Champagne Terms

Wine TastingWine & Champagne Production
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Wine Tasting Terms

Produces one of the four tastes of wine (sweet, sour, bitter, and salt); Acid produces a sour or tart sensation on the sides of the tongue and mouth .
The flavor or flavors left after the wine is swallowed.
Term usually used to describe a relatively tannic wine. A wine high in tannins will taste bitter or feel prickly on your tongue.
A wine in which all aspects -- acidity, sweetness, tannins, alcohol. A balanced wine will not seem excessive in either of these categories.
Barrel Fermentation
Imparts flavors and characteristics of the wood to wine. Used often for full-bodied white wines to impart creamy vanilla flavors and aromas as well as spice. Different types of Oak (French, American,...) impart different characteristics to the wine.
Blush wine
A pink colored wine that is made from white grapes and "stained" with a bit of red wine or typically the skins of red grapes. This is different from a rosé wine .
The aroma of the wine. Also referred to as the Nose of a wine.
A smell, especially in oak-aged Chardonnay. Due to the connectedness of smell and taste, a wine may seem to taste buttery as well. This term is not used to describe the physical feel of the wine.
Describes a wine with a simple, direct flavor; with no unnatural or chemical taste.
A wine that reveals a variety of aromas and flavor characteristics in each sip.
Wine that smells musty because the cork is tainted with extremely small amounts of chemical used to bleach corks. It causes wine to smell like wet cardboard or musty socks. It also tends to suppress any fruit character. It presents no health hazard but can make a bottle of wine undrinkable. It is one of the faults you can send wine back for if it is presented to you at a restaurant. It is estimated that 1 bottle in 20 is corked. You can not detect it by smelling the cork. Smell and taste the wine, not the cork.
Fresh and clean with a generous amount of acidity.
The process of pouring wine from its bottle into a carafe to separate the sediment from the wine and give the wine a chance to breathe a bit.
No residual sugar, no detectable sweetness.
A wine too low in acid is described with this term.
Flavors and feel of the wine on your tongue after you swallow wine.
Fortified Wine
A wine such as Sherry or Port that has additional spirits (usually grape brandy) added to raise the alcohol content.
A description for attractively acidic.
Literal term for a fruit element, not necessarily grape. Black currant, pear, citrus, pineapple are a few of the fruit flavors or hints that might be present in wine.
Terms used to describe wines with good fruit; sometimes misused to describe wine that is sweet.
The feel or weight of wine in the mouth. Often described as mouthfeel
A description for a wine that is too acidic.
Legs or Tears
Streams left on the inside of a glass after a wine has been swirled. Contrary to popular myth, they tell you only that the wine has alcohol in it. The more alcohol, the more legs. However, the difference in alcohol level needed to create noticeably more or less legs is bigger than the gap of most wines. So if you suspect someone is giving you grape juice instead of wine, check the legs, but if you are sure it is wine, don't bother. There is some belief that the thickness of the legs is an indication of sweetness. Sweet is one of the four things your tongue can taste and is it far better at it than your eyes.
A wine fault due to overheating / bad storage. Tastes a bit like candied fruits and almonds. Would be appreciated if it was a desert wine but not a dry wine. Unopened, it may be detectable if you notice the cork has pushed up out of the bottle a bit due to the heat. A maderized wine should certainly be returned.
Wine that is aged to its full potential . White wines when aged tend to turn more golden, while reds tend to turn more brown. In general, red wines age better than whites due to their higher tannin content.
Meritage (pronounced like heritage)
A wine made from a combination of "noble Bordeaux varietals."
A red Meritage must be made of at least two of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot, and Carmenere. Also, no single variety may make up more than 90%
A white Meritage is made from a blend of two or more of the following    varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Vert with no single variety making more than 90% To use the name Meritage, a winery must also obtain a license from the Meritage Association. Many Finger Lakes wineries produce Meritage-like blends but do not use the name and avoid paying any license fees.
The aroma and bouquet of wine. The smell of the wine. The sense of taste is uniquely paired to your sense of smell so the two should be enjoyed in tandem. The traditional swirling of a wine in a glass is to spread the wine thinly on the walls of the glass to release more aroma. Sadly inhaling and drinking have to be done separately otherwise coughing and choking ensues.
A unique flavor-aroma combination imparted to wine when aged in oak barrels.
Harmfully exposed to oxygen. If a wine breathes a bit, it softens the flavors and can make it wonderful. However, an oxidized wine has breathed for too long (perhaps a cork fails to seal completely) An oxidized wine will be flat and lifeless without a smell of fruit. In extreme it may taste more like vinegar. Oxidized whites may appear brownish. It is one of the faults for which a wine can be returned.
A fault in wine whose dormant yeast has awakened and started a second fermentation in the bottle. It leaves the wine fizzy or effervescent on your tongue. Desired in champagne, but an unacceptable fault in wine.
A term sometimes placed on labels of American wines to indicate a better quality wine. The term has no official significance.
Residual Sugar (RS)
The amount of unfermented sugar left in a wine after fermentation is complete, usually measured in grams per liter but displayed by wineries as a percentage. A residual sugar of 0-1%is considered dry, 1-2% Semi-Dry, 2-3% Semi-Sweet, and more than 3% is considered sweet.
A component in red wine that has recently been discovered to have strong health benefits. It is most abundant in red grapes grown in the Finger Lakes region of New York [Resveratrol Study]
Rosé wine
A pink colored wine made from red grapes but the juice is drawn off before it gets the full color and flavor from the skins. This is different than a blush wine.
Smooth well balanced with good body
Mellow, well-rounded quality.
Exotic spice and fruit flavors in whites, especially Gewurztraminer; pepper or cinnamon/clove in some reds.
A natural compound that comes from skins, pits and stems of grapes as well as the wood in which the wine is aged. Generally, red wines have a higher level of tannin than whites because red grapes are usually left to ferment on their skins.
Green, unripe, overly acidic.
The dominating grape in a given wine. In the U.S., wines must be at least 75% of the varietal that appears on the label. For example, a wine labeled as Cabernet Franc must have at least 75% Cabernet Franc grapes as its base.
The year the grapes used in making the wine are harvested. If a wine shows a vintage date, 95% of the grapes must have been harvested that year.

Wine & Champagne Production Terms

Barrel Fermentation
Imparts flavors and characteristics of the wood to wine. Used often for full-bodied white wines to impart creamy vanilla flavors and aromas as well as spice.
A step in the Methode Champenoise process in champagne production which expels sediment from the bottle.
A combination of wine and cane sugar that is used in making champagne.
The process by which grape juice is made into wine.
Controversial clarification process of pumping wine through various filters to remove suspended solids. If overdone, it may also strip out flavor.
Malolactic Fermentation
The conversion of malic acid (green apple) to the lactic acid (milk acid) by special bacteria. This fermentation process is a tool selected by the wine maker to reduce acidity and soften the wine. Depending on the strain of bacteria used, flavors and aromas of the wine can also be changed. Use of malolactic fermentation is something that the wine maker determines on a per-lot basis. Vintage variances and variations from terroir will determine whether malolactic fermentation is utilized and which culture is used.
Methode Champenoise
The traditional process by which champagne is made. This term is often used in the Finger Lakes to declare that a Sparkling wine is made in the Champagne methode even though it is not from the Champagne region of France.
Unfermented grape juice.
A root-feeding aphid that has probably had a more damaging impact on wine production than any other vine pest or disease. It attacks only grape vines and kills by attacking the roots. This aphid was native to North America and native American grapes (Lambrusca) are naturally immune to it. The European grapes (Vinifera) were not.
Important winemaking operation involving literally pressing the juice (for white wines) or the astringent pressing of wine out of the skins (for red wines). The quality of the resulting juice depends on how hard the grapes are pressed.
Residual Sugar (RS)
The amount of unfermented sugar left in a wine after fermentation is complete, usually measured in grams per liter but displayed by wineries as a percentage. A residual sugar of 0-1%is considered dry, 1-2% Semi-Dry, 2-3% Semi-Sweet, and more than 3% is considered sweet.
A step in champagne production where bottles are continually turned to bring sediment to the necks. Where later the sediment will be frozen and removed (Degorgement)
The French word to describe particular characteristics of a vineyard or even part of a vineyard. These characteristics are the microclimate, soil, topography and the effects each of these elements have on each other.

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