Glossary

Definitions with extra insight

  • Complexity

    Complexity

    The term ‘complexity’ is often used to describe a wine’s multifaceted character. A complex wine offers a range of flavours, aromas and sensations that unfold in layers as you taste it. Unlike a simple wine, which might be pleasant but one-dimensional, a complex wine keeps your palate engaged by constantly revealing new aspects of its…

  • Premox

    Premox

    Premox, or premature oxidation, is an issue that can affect wine, particularly white wines, most notably those from the Burgundy region of France. It refers to a condition where a wine ages prematurely, resulting in it losing freshness and exhibiting oxidised characteristics much earlier than expected. This problem is not limited to but is most…

  • Charmat Method

    Charmat Method

    The Charmat method, also known as the tank method or cuve close, is a sparkling wine production technique used to create effervescent wines like Prosecco. This method takes its name from its inventor, Eugène Charmat, a French winemaker who developed the process in the early 20th century. In the Charmat method, a still base wine…

  • Pét-Nat

    Pét-Nat

    Pétillant Naturel, commonly known as Pét-Nat, is a unique style of sparkling wine. The term translates from French to “naturally sparkling,” and this wine is notable for its ancient method of production. The Pét-Nat method, also referred to as Méthode Ancestrale, dates back to the early 16th century in Limoux, South France, originally used by…

  • Noble Rot

    Noble Rot

    Noble rot, also known as ‘Botrytis cinerea’, is a beneficial fungus that affects wine grapes. Under specific conditions, this fungus can lead to the production of some of the world’s best sweet wines. When the fungus attacks the grape, it causes the grape to shrivel, concentrating the sugars and flavours. This results in a very…

  • Fine Wine

    Fine Wine

    Fine wine is a ambiguous term, often used the world of high-quality wines that stand out due to their exceptional taste, aroma and potential to age gracefully. These wines, typically crafted in limited batches, come from well-known vineyards and are the acquired by collectors, enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Major wine-producing regions, like Bordeaux in France, Tuscany…

  • Varietal Wine

    Varietal Wine

    Varietal wine is made mainly from a single grape variety and its label usually indicates this. It aims to showcase the unique characteristics of that specific grape. On the other hand, many wines are blends for several reasons. Blending can add complexity by combining the attributes of different grape varieties. It also allows for more…

  • Super Tuscan

    Super Tuscan

    A Super Tuscan wine refers to red wines produced in Tuscany, Italy, that don’t adhere to the traditional wine-making rules of the region. In the 1970s, some Tuscan wine producers began to feel constrained by the strict wine-making regulations of the region. These rules dictated which grape varieties could be used, the methods of production…

  • Mousiness

    Mousiness

    Wine mousiness is a fault that arises during the wine making process, mainly due to the presence of undesirable Brettanomyces (‘Brett’) and Lactobacillus. These microorganisms produce certain compounds like tetrahydropyridine that are responsible for the unpleasant odour and taste associated with this fault. It’s called ‘mousiness’ or ‘mouse cage’ due to the characteristic odour and…

  • Light Strike

    Light Strike

    Light strike in wine, caused by exposure to sunlight or artificial light, leads to unpleasant aromas and flavours reminiscent of sewage, rotten eggs, wet wool or cooked cabbage. This is due to the generation of compounds such as dimethyl disulphide created when light reacts with riboflavin in the wine, creating off-smelling sulphur compounds. The problem…

  • Blind Tasting

    Blind Tasting

    Blind tasting refers to the practice of tasting wines without knowing their identity. The bottles are usually covered or the labels are hidden, so tasters have no information about the grape variety, region, producer, or vintage. This method is often employed to prevent any preconceived notions or biases from influencing the taster’s judgement. Blind tasting…

  • Bottle Shock

    Bottle Shock

    Bottle shock is a temporary condition that can occur in wine when it has been shaken or subjected to drastic temperature changes. This can happen during shipping, handling or even after bottling. The agitation can disrupt the wine’s molecular structure, leading to a loss of flavour, aroma and overall quality. The symptoms of bottle shock…

  • Reductive

    Reductive

    A reductive wine is usually a faulty wine that has been exposed to too little oxygen during its production or storage. This lack of oxygen can lead to the development of undesirable aromas and flavours. In reductive wines, you might detect sulphur-like smells, which can range from struck match and rubber to rotten eggs or…

  • Field Blend

    Field Blend

    A field blend wine refers to a wine made from two or more grape varieties that are grown together in the same vineyard, harvested at the same time and then co-fermented together. This is in contrast to wines where different grape varieties are grown in separate plots, harvested at different times, and then blended together…

  • Terroir

    Terroir

    ‘Terroir’ is a French term, steeped in sentiments, debates and controversy. Though it fundamentally translates to “a sense of place”, its meaning varies for different people. Terroir encapsulates the unique blend of both natural and human influences that endow wine with its distinct character. It speaks of everything from the soil’s constitution where the grapes…

  • Orange Wine

    Orange Wine

    Orange wine is a type of wine made by fermenting white grape juice in contact with its skins for an extended period. This process is similar to how red wines are made, but it’s applied to white grapes. The extended skin contact gives the wine its characteristic orange or amber hue. The practice of making…

  • Natural Wine

    Natural Wine

    Natural wine, sometimes referred to as ‘natty wine’, is a type of wine that’s made with minimal intervention in both the vineyard and the winemaking process. Typically, this implies grapes that have been picked by hand and grown organically, with no additions. This means no added yeast, enzymes, enrichment, acidification, filtration or temperature control. The…

  • Ripasso

    Ripasso

    The word “Ripasso” literally means ‘re-passed’ in Italian. This term is used to describe a specific winemaking technique that involves a second fermentation process. Originally, this method was developed in the Veneto region of Italy, and it is most commonly associated with Valpolicella wines. After the initial fermentation of the wine, the young wine is…

  • Appassimento

    Appassimento

    An Italian winemaking technique where grapes are partially dried before fermentation. This process concentrates the sugars and flavours in the grapes, resulting in wines that are richer, more robust and often higher in alcohol content. The technique is most commonly associated with Italy, particularly for wines like Amarone and some styles of Valpolicella. The length…

  • Minerality

    Minerality

    Minerality is a term used to describe a set of characteristics in wine that are reminiscent of flavours, aromas, or sensations that evoke wet stones, flint, chalk or other mineral-like qualities. The source of taste of minerality in wine is a complex and debated subject. Some believe it comes directly from the minerals in the…