Select the first letter of the word whose definition you wish to obtain.
(tast.) one of the basic elements in the taste of a wine, together with astringency and mellowness/sweetness. Acidity lends a desirable freshness to young white wines such as Bourgogne Aligoté but may be a fault in top grade wines. (See also Total acidity, Volatile acidity)
Ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the main ingredient of a wine after water, is produced by fermentation. It is a by-product, together with CO2, of the action of yeasts on sugars. The alcohol content of a wine is expressed as degrees or % volume, the two being equivalent. Alcohol gives warmth to a wine and is partially responsible for the mellowness which counterbalances acidity.
(tast.) Wine with too much alcohol resulting in a hot or even burning sensation in the mouth.
Alcoholic fermentation transforms must into wine by the action of yeasts transforming sugars (fructose, glucose) into alcohol (ethanol) and CO2, releasing heat at the same time. Many other substances make their appearance during fermentation – glycerol, esters, organic acids, etc. – all of which contribute to the rich and complex character of the finished wine.
(tast.) Class of wine odours (game, venison, musk, leather, ... ) A characteristic of red burgundies made from the Pinot Noir.
Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée. Products – mainly wines but also, for example, cheeses – named for the district in which they are produced. Burgundy has 100 AOC wines, the 100th (Saint-Bris) being created as recently as January 2003. There are 33 Grand Cru AOCs, 44 Communal (or Village) AOCs, and 23 Regional AOCs. The Communal AOCs include 562 named Premier Cru climats. (See also INAO)
The aromas of a wine are perceived directly by the nose, or via the mouth (retro-olfaction). They are divided into primary aromas due to the grape variety (e.g. Chardonnay or Pinot Noir), secondary aromas which are products of fermentation, and tertiary aromas which develop during the ageing process. The word "odour" on the whole is reserved for disagreeable/undesirable smells.
(tast.) Sensation produced in the mouth by the tannins in the wine, especially in young red wines.
A bottle containing 12 liters, or 16 x 75cl bottles.
In Burgundy the "pièce" of 228 litres is standard for the elevage of both red and white wines and is also used as the unit of commercial transactions in bulk wines. Chablis uses the "feuillette" of 132 litres (114 litres in the Côte d'Or and Saône-et-Loire). A "quarto" or "quartaut" has a quarter the capacity of the "pièce".
(tast.) Disagreeable flavour in (especially) red wines caused by rough, immature tannins or by bacterial attack on the glycerol content of the wine.
(tast.) A property of wines that are well-built, have sufficient alcohol, and a mouth-filling consistency.
The traditional Burgundian wine bottle has a capacity of 75 cl though other sizes exist from the ¼ litre airline bottle up to 12 litres. 75 cl or above is best for wines that are to undergo long periods of laying down.
(tast.) Applied to the appearance or "finish" of a wine.
Applied to a Crémant de Bourgogne containing less than 15 g/l of sugar.
(tast.) Slightly cheesy odour often related to malolactic fermentation.
Measure of the aromatic persistence or "length" of a wine in the mouth after tasting. Expressed in seconds. A "short" wine will score 2-4 caudalies, a great burgundy 8-12 caudalies or even more.
Bring to room temperature (14°-16°C). But not, of course, if room is already overheated.
Addition of sugar to the must in order to raise potential alcohol. 1.7 g/l of sugar raises alcohol content by 1 degree. Process named after French chemist and politician Jean-Antoine Chaptal (1756-1832).
(tast.) Description applied to the consistency of wine experienced in the mouth.
Monks of the abbey of Cîteaux near Nuits-Saint-Georges whose daughter-foundations spread throughout Christendom in the Middle Ages. They were skilful wine-growers and wine-makers and established a number of vineyards among which the most famous is probably the Clos de Vougeot.
Named and delimited parcel of vine-growing land with recognised and long-established properties which distinguish it from its neighbours and which are reflected in the wine grown on it. A key word and a key concept in Burgundy.
(tast.) Said of a wine which has lost its primary aromas and not yet developed secondary aromas. (See Aroma)
(tast.) With a rich and varied assortment of aromas.
(tast.) Highly desirable quality of rich, powerful wines made from controlled yields of perfectly matured grapes.
Wine-corks are made from the bark of the cork oak (Quercus suber). The trees are cropped every 9-12 years. The main sources are the Mediterranean countries (Spain Morocco) and, more especially, Portugal.
(tast.) Wine which has a mouldy smell and taste due ostensibly to defective corks but sometimes caused by contamination from other sources such as improperly disinfected barrels.
Literally "growth". Piece of ground producing wines of specific characteristics (cf climat), or the wines from those plots. Burgundy recognises two categories: Premier Cru and Grand Cru.
Literally "vat-ful". A single "lot" of wine, i.e. grapes from a given plot harvested and vinified at one time.
Decanting a wine aerates it before serving. The wine is in contact with air for a short while – around a half-hour as any longer would damage the bouquet. Sometimes a young wine is poured into a carafe to oxygenate it and smooth out the tannins. But decanting reduces the reduction aromas in more mature wines. The ideal decanter is of medium diameter. See also reduction and bouquet.
(tast.) A mark of quality.
In Burgundy applied only to Crémant de Bourgogne with a sugar content of 35-50 g/l.
A physical impression, perceived in the mouth. A dense wine is one that is full and rich with content. One might even call it “chewy.” Density is found in wines with a high level of dry extract. See also chewy and dry extract.
(tast.) Wine lacking body and leaving a dry feeling at the back of the mouth. Might be due to over-long elevage, or simply mean the wine has reached the end of its life.
Opposite of sweet. Sugar content less than 2 g/l. Also used to describe a dried-out wine.
What remains of a wine after liquids have been separated out by evaporation - acids, tannins, sugar, etc. In burgundies dry matter content varies from 17-25 g/l in white wines to 20-30 g/l in reds.
Describes a Crémant de Bourgogne whose sugar content is less than 6 g/l.
(tast.) Describes a wine that is notably refined, delicate and subtle. Volnay, for example, is more feminine that Pommard, though the two are neighbours.
(tast.) (1) The last impressions of taste and aroma left by the tasting process. (Cf Aftertaste) (2) The appearance of a wine as regards brilliance and limpidity, sometimes called "polish".
(tast.) Said of a wine that has body and sinew and good levels of tannin and acidity
Wine lacking in acidity and body.
(tast.) Said of young wines, slightly acid and well-fruited.
(tast.) Rich in both structure and aromas.
(tast.) Said of wines that are rich, with good colour and a satisfying impact in the mouth.
(tast.) Used of rich, meaty, well-structured and very pleasing wines .
Groupe des Jeunes Professionnels de la Vigne. Young wine-growers' association. 24 bis, Rue du Lieutenant Dupuis, 21200 BEAUNE Cedex.
In the three departments of wine-growing Burgundy, Yonne, Côte d'Or and Saône-et-Loire, the white grape varieties are: Chardonnay (46% of all vines, 87% of whites); Aligoté (6% of total, 11.5% of whites); Sauvignon (0.4% of total, 0.8% of whites); Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sacy (in the Yonne). Black grapes are: Pinot Noir (36% of total, 76% of blacks); Gamay (11% of total, 24% of blacks) mainly in the Mâconnais, César (at Irancy in the Yonne).
(tast.) Describes a markedly acidic wine.
(tast.) Describes a wine where the elements of mellowness, acidity and tannins are present in exactly the right proportions.
(tast.) During visual examination, highlights in the colour of the wine, together with brilliance may be an indicator of its acidity, age, or state of health.
Institut National des Appellations d'Origine. Organisation charged with formulating and enforcing AOC regulations in France.
Bottle of 3 litres capacity or (four 75cl bottles).
The information contained on the labels of wine bottles is of two kinds: obligatory, and optional. Obligatory information includes appellation, identity of bottler, volume of contents, and alcohol content. Optional supplementary information may include vintage year, brand name, grape variety, or general information such as "oak-aged". The legislation in force also covers anything written on the bottle or its packaging (back label, neck label, cork, capsule, ... )
(tast.) Streaks of wine down the side of the tasting glass after the wine has been swirled around in it. Signals a wine of good body and hence good levels of alcohol, glycerol and macromolecules.
Describes the ability of tastes and aromas in well-made wines to remain present in the mouth after the wine has been swallowed. (See also caudalie)
(tast.) A wine that is generally weakly-coloured, low in alcohol and without real structure.
(tast.) A wine that is tender, likeable and supple.
Over-oxidised. Caused by too much aeration without the protection of sulphur dioxide.
Bottle containing 1.5 litres (i.e. two 75cl bottles).
) Malolactic fermentation takes place after alcoholic fermentation and is mediated by bacteria, not yeasts. During this process, malic acid is transformed into lactic acid, rendering the wine smoother and less acidic. It is a necessary stage for red wines and must take place before bottling or risk gas and turbidity in the bottle. For whites and rosés it is optional, depending on the type of wine aimed at.
(tast.) Full-bodied wine with good balance between mellowness (from alcohol) and tannins.
The impression of sweetness in a wine caused not by sugar but mainly by glycerol. Burgundy does not produce any wines defined as "moelleux" in EU legislation (i.e. wines containing 12-25 g/l of sugar).
(tast.) Aromatic note found in white wines such as Chablis.
(tast.) Describes the overall perception of the wine's flavours and consistency in the mouth, as "nose" describes the overall perceptions of aromas
Bottles of 15 litres capacity (twenty 75 cl bottles).
(tast.) Shade of colour.
This word describes a pleasant physical and tactile sensation in the mouth in contrast to a “hard” wine, one with too lively an acidity or one that has too much bite. See also fatty.
(tast.) Wine with well-developed and expressive bouquet. Opposite of closed.
To do with sensory impressions. The wine-taster is subjecting the wine to "organoleptic examination".
Chemical changes occurring as a result of contact with oxygen. Oxidation affects the aromatic properties of wine adversely if excessive (see maderised) but in the normal course of wine-making, a modest degree of oxygenation is beneficial, helping with the evolution of aromas (e.g. from fresh fruit to candied to cooked), and preventing the generation of hydrogen sulphide from the lees with its smell of rotten eggs.
The moment in a wine’s development where it demonstrates the perfect balance between its physical, aromatic and sensorial characteristics. When a wine reaches its peak, it has acquired its maximum aromatic richness and complexity in terms of all aroma stages – attack, evolution and finish. It has conserved sufficient acidity so that it is not “tired” and its tannins have “melted”.
(tast.) Another word for length. Describes the ability of tastes and aromas in well-made wines to remain present in the mouth after the wine has been swallowed. (See also caudalie)
Important family of constituents of wine including pigments (anthocyanins and flavones in red wines, flavones in white wines) and tannins. Polyphenols evolve during ageing under the influence of oxidation, Other polyphenols such as resveratrol are anti-oxidants and can help prevent cardio-vascular disorders if red wine is drunk regularly and in moderation (max. 2 glasses per day).
(tast.) Chewy, generous, well-built, full-bodied, rich, meaty and with high-quality tannins.
Odourless substances which subsequently develop aromatic qualities through the action of enzymes. This phenomenon has recently been extensively studied by Burgundian research institutes (INRA, IUVV, ENESAD).
Reduction is a chemical reaction that is the opposite to oxidation. Like all “living” things, wine undergoes reactions while it is ageing out of the air (in reductive conditions). This is necessary for creating and stabilizing the color. The reductive reactions sometimes encourage the creation of “closed” aromas that can be removed through rapid aeration into a carafe or decanter. See also oxidation.
Bottle of 4.5 litres capacity (five 75 cl bottles).
Removal of suckers and unwanted shoots growing on the old wood to prevent their competing with the fruit-bearing branches. this is done by hand. At the same time the vigneron will rub out the secondary buds which intefere with the food suplly to the main shoots and which, if allowed to develop, will rob the grapes of air and sunlight.
When tasting a wine, retronasal olfaction describes the detection and identification of odors when moving the wine around in one’s mouth. This movement makes the heaviest aromatic molecules become volatile. These are not spontaneously released in the glass and cannot be detected simply by smelling the wine. Retronasal olfaction allows the aromas to reach the nose’s olfactory mucus membrane through the upper part of the nostrils.
(tast.) Full-bodied fleshy wine.
(tast.) Said of a wine that has balance and body and no angular tannins
(tast.) A lightish red tint, often the sign of healthy young wines with good acidity.
(tast.) A well-built wine but without any particular finesse.
Bottle of 9 litres capacity (twelve 75cl bottles).
(tast.) Said of a wine that is smooth and unctuous without rough tannins. A desirable quality in red burgundies, Volnay for example.
Describes chardonnay whites which have mellowness, body and good acid structure. The mellowness and acidity are guarantees of its keeping properties.
- (1) From the skins of black grapes come the colour and desirable tannins extracted during vatting. Something like 80% of aromas and their precursor molecules also derive from the skins. (2) Film formed on the unprotected surface of a wine by the action of oxydative yeasts.
A term applied to the tannins in a red wine. As a wine ages, the tannins integrate into the wine and their taste improves. They become rounded and softer, they ‘melt’ into the wine. This results in a less astringent wine. It particularly applies to big wines that are made to be drunk after lengthy ageing.
In the Bourgogne winegrowing region, sparkling AOC Crémant de Bourgogne wines are made in white and rosé versions. See also méthode traditionelle.
Any wine which is not sparkling/effervescent.
(tast.) Quality found in a wine made from well-ripened grapes and rich in good tannins.
Used in wine-growing and wine making as a sterilant. It takes three forms. (1) Powdered sulphur (flowers of sulphur) is used in fungicide sprays in the vineyards (sulfatage); (2) sulphur dioxide (SO2) is used to kill off undesirable organisms in the wine (sulfitage); (3) (mêchage).
(tast.) Pleasingly smooth and with an absence of rough tannins.
Constituents of the wines contained in the grape-skins and (on occasion) stalks and belonging to the family of polyphenols. If oxidised, they form quinones, giving rise to casse. Tannins give young red wines their astringency (reaction between tannins and the proteins in saliva). With age, the tannins are softened by polymerisation.
Tartar (calcium tartrate, potassium bi-tartrate) forms crystalline deposits at the bottom of the vat or barrels. The deposits are precipitated during alcoholic fermentation (alcohol decreases their solubility) and by lowered temperatures. Sometimes tartar is deposited in wines after bottling. It has no effect on the wine and needs only a little care when pouring.
(tast.) The wine rises to the edge of the glass by capillary action and then falls back forming streaks called "tears". This phenomenon is most noticeable in wines with a high alcohol and/or glycerol content. (Cf. Legs)
The word terroir, which may be translated, though inadequately, by some such phrase as "native soil" is actually a congeries of facts and ideas comprising the whole range of natural conditions (climate, geology, soil, drainage, landform, environment) plus human factors (technical skill, choice of tools and methods, economic conditions, and, above all, tradition based on a 2000-year history of wine-making).
(tast.) A wine may be said to have "thighs", i.e. be full and meaty, but the term is little used among professionals.
Formerly known as "Champagne method". The method by which Crémant de Bourgogne is made differs in no important respect from that employed in the production of champagne.
Characteristic of a wine that is a good representative of its terroir or climat. A word and a concept much used in Burgundy.
(tast.) Wine whose main characteristics (acidity, mellowness, tannins) differ overmuch in intensity, or wine which is dominated by a single ingredient and so lacks harmony.
Powerfully-structured wine such as a young Pommard. An example of its opposite, a feminine wine, would be Volnay, with its suppler tannins.
(tast.) A top class wine fully expressing the characteristics of its terroir.