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Friday, June 8, 2012

Wine Growing Terminology Explained

As a follow-up to the Wine Tasting Terminology Explained post here's one related to the farming and production side of wine (all the stuff that happens before you get to drink it). Hope this all helps cut through the bullsh#t when you're just trying to get a buzz.

Rotten grapes; aka Botrytis
Sometimes you want it, usually not
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Appellation - If you're rich, powerful, and/or a lawyer you can make your wine more unique and hopefully expensive by having your very own grape-growing region. See Bennett Valley, Green Valley, etc.

Botrytis - Rotten grapes, but in a good way, otherwise there wouldn't be a fancy word for it.

Bud Break - The first chance for the farmer to start worrying.

Canopy Management - What you do in a cool growing season just before a heat wave so the grapes can get a nice sun tan. See the 2010 growing season for more info.

Cap - The crust at the top of the fermentation tank. You "punch down the cap" because it sounds cooler than stirring up the goop.

Chaptalization - Cheating by adding sugar. Different than adding acid which is not cheating.

Closures - They can't just put a damned screw cap on it and be done. They'd rather use a limited resource from trees that doesn't work worth a crap (don't want to put the cork screw makers out of business).

Cold Stabilization - A technical-sounding term for upping the electric bill by refrigerating the wine. See Tartrates.

Crusher-Stemmer - Where you stick your hand to see if it's working properly.

Crush - When you stay away from grumpy winemakers.

Extracted - A way to make wine when you don't know finesse.

Filtering & Fining - Getting out the stuff you don't want to know about: bad "organisms," dead stuff, bees, the occasional starling.

Hangtime - A term borrowed from the porn business.

Lees - A nice name for the rotting bodies of dead yeast cells.

Must - Mushy, stinky grapes with the juice.

Pomace - Mushy, stinky grapes without the juice.

Pump Over, Punch Down, Racking - Procedures to keep the cellar staff busy and out of the beer.

Residual Sugar - Making wine palatable for Americans.

Rootstock - The name Woodstock was already taken so...

Sediment - Stuff in wine people don't want to see. If you have it in your wine then you need to explain to everyone why it's good. Much easier to just get rid of it.

Shatter - A dramatic name for one of nature's crop reduction strategies

Suckering - Another term borrowed from the porn industry.

Tartrates - Harmless crystals that look like tiny pieces of glass that worry consumers so wine industry folks would rather call them "diamonds."

Toasty - What happens to winemakers when they spend the day barrel sampling.

Ullage - The air space in the top of the bottle as it sounds better than "some settling may have occurred...".

Veraison - The grapes are getting ripe, but you can't just say that as it doesn't sound as romantic.

Viticulture - Grape farming. Not sure what they call soybean and corn farming.

Taking barrel samples for quality control, blending sessions, etc.
The work never ends!
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