Sometimes Wine Terms can get a little bit complicated, so we thought it would be helpful to define a few things...
Acid: A compound present in all grapes and an essential component of wine that preserves it, enlivens and shapes its flavors and helps prolong its aftertaste. There are four major kinds of acids--tartaric, malic, lactic and citric--found in wine. Acid is identifiable by the crisp, sharp character it imparts to a wine.
American Oak: An alternative to French oak for making barrels in which to age wine. Marked by strong vanilla, dill and cedar notes, it is used primarily for aging Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel, for which it is the preferred oak. It's less desirable, although used occasionally, for Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. New American oak barrels can be purchased for about half the price of French oak barrels.
Barrel Aged: Denotes a wine that has spent a period of time in barrels before bottling. This affects wine in numerous ways—the flavors in newly blended wines knit together, tannins in red wines soften and white wines become richer and more full-bodied. Aging in new oak barrels (barrels used for the first few times) can add aromas and flavors of vanilla, spice and smoke.
Barrel Fermented: Denotes wine that has been fermented in small casks (usually 55-gallon oak barrels) instead of larger tanks. Advocates believe that barrel fermentation contributes greater harmony between the oak and the wine, increases body and adds complexity, texture and flavor to certain wine types. Its liabilities are that more labor is required and greater risks are involved. It is mainly used for whites.
Bottle Aging: A period of time spent in bottle prior to release and/or consumption; a small percentage of wines gain complexity and bouquet during extended bottle aging. The vast majority of wines produced are meant to be consumed shortly after release.
Terroir: (French) A sense of place expressed in a wine, which may include the effects of climate, site climate, soils, aspect, slow and even local grape varieties, yeast cultures, and wine making practices. (WSET)
Viticulture: grape growing (WSET)
Yeast: Generic term for a number of single-celled micro organisms that produce zymase, the enzyme responsible for converting sugar into alcohol. The most important wine yeast is "Saccharomyces cereviiae". (WSET)
Don't worry, Cork Dorks - we'll add more soon... If you can't get enough, there are some helpful links below so you can further quench your thirst for more vino vocab!
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