The world of wine is thousands upon thousands of years old. So it makes sense that over this time it has evolved into a seemingly complicated and mystical drink. With different grapes, styles and processes to make wine across the globe, understanding the differences can be at first glance overwhelming. Simplistically speaking wine can be deconstructed into sugary grape juice and yeast. Together these two ingredients create a process known as fermentation in which the side effect is carbon dioxide and alcohol. So why is wine such a mystery to us? I have decided to put a small list of items related to wine that may clear up some unknowns or help clarify and demystify wine.
Still wine– Wine in it’s most understood form. Fermented Grape “Must” or juice. It is not sparkling like champagne so it does not have bubbles that make it move. So it is “Still”. Served at many holiday gatherings and used as a welcoming gift among friends.
Sparkling wine– Those in the likes of Champagne. It is a still wine that has more sugar and yeast added to it so that it undergoes a second fermentation. Along with alcohol the production of Carbon Dioxide is trapped and contained in the wine. The most traditional method of creating this is named after champagne and known as Méthode Champenoise. In this method the second fermentation is done inside the bottle. Other names for this method are Classic or Traditional method.
Fortified wine– A fortified wine is a wine who’s base is a “still wine” and is shored up with or fortified by adding a grape spirit such as Brandy to create the final product. The most famous of these styles of wine are Port Wines. Port wines, getting their name from the seaside town of Oporto in Portugal, have grape spirit added before the initial fermentation has stopped. In essence killing the yeast and leaving behind unfermented sugar. Thus making them sweeter wines.
Other fortified wines include Sherry, Madeira and vin doux naturel.
Dry wine– A wine that is the opposite of sweet.
Dessert wine– A lusciously sweet wine with a considerable amount of residual sugar still in the wine.
Old World Wine– Wine from the countries of Europe. Where the foundation of wine began.
New World Wine– Wine from the rest of the world excluding Europe. In example: California,New Zealand, South Africa, Australia etc…
Varietal– The name of the grape used in a wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato or Mouvedre. The way most New World wine producers label their wines so that the style can be identified.
Wine Region – An area in which a wine is produced. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Rioja, Barolo, Chianti, Mosel, NAPA, Marlborough, Mendoza etc… In the Old World this was how wine was identified. The old world ways are slowly changing to meet international expectations.
Cork– The cylindrical stopper placed in the neck of a wine bottle to keep the wine from leaking out of the bottle. It is made from the bark of cork oak tree. A large amount of these trees are in the country of Portugal.
Corked wine– “Cork Taint” is a chemical known as TCA or 2,4,6 Tri chloroanisole. Also, TBA or 2,4,6 tribromoanisole can develop in wineries where specific molds, plant phenols and chlorine in the wineries cleaning process combine. Sometimes the culprit is from the cork and other times it may be wine barrels or just on the walls of the winery. The wines develop a musty cardboard off putting smell with no flavor components. It is not harmful but is a legitimate reason to return a wine.
Oak barrel – The vessel that ages many red wines and some white wines. The source is typically oak trees in America known as American Oak or those from forests in France known as french oak. There are other areas that supply oak barrels but these are the most well known.
Cooper– The skilled professional that creates the wine barrels
Decanting – The Process of pouring off a bottle of wine into a a vessel known as a Decanter. This is done in order to separate wine from settled out particles in the wine that are a result from aging.
Wine Key– The screw device used to pull a cork out of a bottle of wine.
Stelvin Enclosure– “Screw Cap” The engineered top that screws onto a bottle of wine to keep it fresh. This replaces the cork.
Stemware – The glass designed to hold wine that has a stem to hold it with so as to not heat up the wine with your hand on the bowl.
This is just a taste of the basics in the wine world. If you have questions that have gone unanswered please feel free to stop in at The Bottle Room or respond to this post on Facebook.