Acidification: In warm climates, winemakers will sometimes add citric acids prior to fermentation to boost a wines mouth watering quality, so that they don't taste flabby (think lemonade with too much sugar).
Bordelaise: The adjectival form of Bordeaux. References any grapes that hail from this part of France. Can refer to white grapes (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle) but generally refers to the red varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, or Petit Verdot (we should include Malbec but it has taken on a life of it's own thank to it's second life in Argentina.).
Botrytis Cinerea: AKA The Noble Rot. This super selection bacteria effectively shrivels grapes from the inside out.... in a good way! This turns the grapes into raisins, concentrating the sugars. Once pressed grapes affected producing beautifully honeyed dessert wines.
Carbonic Maceration: A special type of fermentation, used most famously in France's Beaujolais region. Whole grapes are placed in vat under layer of carbon dioxide. Enzymes in the grapes begin to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. Grapes burst and yeast on skin of grapes begins normal fermentation. The result is red wine with low color, low tannin and bright fruity flavors.
Chaptalization: The addition of sugar to the wine must prior to or during fermentation. Increases alcohol and body but not sweetness.
Franken-Grape: OK not a legitimate wine term at all, but one that we bandy about freely on this site. It's a slightly derogatory (but still affectionate - we swear) term that we use for grapes that were created in a lab by oenologists that feel like they can improve on nature. Sometimes it is succesful, but more often than not it fails. We will let you be the judge :-)
Fining: A method of clarifying wines to remove any sediments or cloudiness.
Fortified: Wines that have had additional alcohol added prior to or just towards the end of fermentation, fortifying the alcohol content. Famous examples of fortified wines include Ports, Sherries, Vins doux naturels, Madeira, Marsala, Pineau des Charentes, Vermouth. Infamous examples (and the source of many a killer hangover) include Mad Dog 20/20 and Cisco.
New World: Non-European wine producing countries.
Malolactic Fermentation: Malolactic Fermentation is the conversion of naturally occurring tart malic acids to softer lactic acids for a rounded, more buttery wine.
Oak Aging: Oak aging can be achieved by a variety of tools:
Aging the wine barrels, or, the cheaper method, adding oak chips or staves to the wine as it ages in stainless steel tanks.
Different barrels achieve different effects:
French oak lends flavors and aromas of toast, butter, and sweet baking spices;
American oak lends flavors and aromas of coconut, vanilla extract and dill;
On the rare occasion, Hungarian and Slovenian oak barrels can also be used
The size of the barrels can also affect the amount of oak characteristics that are imparted to the wine.
Brand new oak barrels will lend more flavor than older barrels that have already beeen used to age a previous vintage.
Old World: All traditional wine-making western European countries.
Pigeage: A gentle punching down of the cap of grape skins that rise to the top of a vat of fermenting grape juice.
Remontage: A vigorous pump over of fermenting grape juice over skins.
Saignée: Production method for rosé wine. Winemakers "bleed off" some fermenting grape juice from the must. The juice which stays behind sees extra skin contact which intensifies the color and tannin. The juice that gets taken away is vinified into rosés.
Sur Lie: Winemakers will often age wines on the yeasts that trigger fermentation, rather than filtering them out. This lends a creamy, nutty, and yes, yeasty quality to the resulting wines.
Tannin: Molecules in wine that lend a bitterness or astringency on the palate. the result is a drying powdery sensation on the gums and cheeks. See "How to Taste Wine."
Terroir: Also known as "Taste of place." It is everything other than the grape and the winemaking that contributes to the flavor of the wine: soil type, slope, aspect (which direction those slopes face) and altitude.
Vin doux naturel: A fortified wine that originated in the Roussillon region of Southern France. Fortification (the addition of alcohol to halt the fermentaiton process) begins very early in the fermentation process in order to preserve residual sugar. If you've got a sweet tooth, these wines are worth seeking out!
Viticulture: The process and science of growing grapes.
Viniculture: The process and science of making wine.
Vitis Vinifera: The plant family that contains the majority of classic wine making grapes.