What is natural wine? A glossary of wine terms to know [part 2]

By Dave Schavone

As promised, we’ve compiled even more wine terms so you can educate yourself beyond what’s trending on #WineTok (see our need-to-know basic wine terms glossary here). Unlike some of the stuff listed in the previous blog whose definitions are debatable, what follows here are concrete definitions that involve the winemaking process itself. It takes more than just crushing grapes and letting them ferment to create particular varietals of wine (who would’ve thought). We explain some of the most common practices below.

 

  • Chaptalization: the addition of sugar to wine before or during the fermentation process in order to increase a wine’s ABV or make fermentation more controllable. Different from dosage.
  • Dosage: A step in Methode Champenoise winemaking (aka how we get those delicious bubblies) where a mix of wine, sugar, and yeast is added to fermented wine to start a second fermentation in the bottle.
  • Brix: a measurement of the sugar content of grapes that can determine the potential alcohol content as well as the ripeness of grapes at the time of harvest. Higher brix levels means higher ABV (which can be good or bad depending on what sort of time you’re trying to have).
  • Typicity: refers to how accurately a wine reflects the classic profile of either varietal or region (or, how much a particular bottle of chardonnay tastes like a chardonnay). Having typicity means it is likely to taste as an experienced wine drinker would expect.
  • Terroir: A sense of place in a given wine. Every vineyard’s unique climate, yeast strains and soil come together to develop that site’s terroir.
  • Phenolics: naturally occurring chemical compounds in wine—often produced from the stem, skin, and pulp of grapes—that contributes to the taste, feel, and color of a wine.
  • Flaws: fret not, this doesn’t demean your wine in any way. It’s just a minor differentiation in flavor of a wine that isn’t typical for that particular varietal.
  • Glou-glou: a term coined from France to sound similar to the sounds of pouring wine, these types of wine are low in alcohol and perfect for, well, glugging it down. Typically best served chilled and near a beach.
  • Pét-Nat: sparkling wine that is bottled during its initial fermentation to give it those same champagne-like bubbles. It’s referred to as the ancestral method for creating natural sparkling wines.
  • Skin contact: The practice of leaving the grape solids in the juice as it begins fermentation.. The length of time where there is skin contact will impact the tannins and pigments of the wine, greatly affecting the wine’s flavor, appearance, and aroma.
  • Regenerative Agriculture: A farming philosophy that encourages processes that create healthy ecosystems. Not only does it decrease carbon emissions, but it also helps to create nutrient-rich soil.
  • Malolactic Fermentation: the reduction of acidity in wine by utilizing a particular bacteria, Oenococcus oeni, that converts malic acid to lactic acid, giving it a richer, creamier texture. Occurs naturally, but can also be controlled using lab grown bacteria.
  • Methode Champenoise: a method for making sparkling wine involving second fermentation that occurs within the bottle by adding a mixture of sugar and yeast to a preexisting wine. The yeast and sugar interact to create carbon dioxide, which remains in the bottle to create those celebratory bubbles.
  • Methode Traditionnelle: the same production as methode champenoise, but this process can be completed in any part of the world, whereas champenoise hails only from the specific Champagne region of France.

There’s still plenty more to learn about the art of creating the perfect glass. Have a particular question? Feel free to reach out to us. Wine education should be accessible to all—let us be your go-to for learning something new.