With the chill of Winter finally settling in, there’s no time like the present to embrace our latest Wine Word of the Week: Fortified Wine. These delightful wines are generally hearty, rich in flavor and sure to warm you up from the inside out! Introduced in the 17th century, fortified wines are wines to which distilled spirits have been added, usually a neutral grape... Read More
November marks the return of our popular “Wine Word of the Week” series where you, our fabulous readers, get to suggest words about wine you’d like to learn more about. You can either leave your suggestion in the “Comments” section of this post or on our Facebook Fan Page by clicking here. If we use your word, your name is... Read More
November marks the return of our popular “Wine Word of the Week” series where you, our fabulous readers, get to suggest words about wine you’d like to learn more about. You can either leave your suggestion in the “Comments” section of this post or on our Facebook Fan Page by clicking here. If we use your word, your name is automatically entered into a drawing to win one FREE month of our Explorateur Wine Club, a $50 value! We select one lucky winner each month so your chances of winning are pretty good but remember – you have to play to win!
This month kicks off with our latest wine word, malolactic fermentation (aka “malo” or “ML”), a secondary fermentation which occurs after alcoholic fermentation, the process by which yeast converts the sugar present in grapes into alcohol. During malolactic fermentation, bacteria converts the tart-tasting malic acid (think green apples) present in wine into more approachable lactic acid (think milk) resulting in a creamy, buttery mouthfeel.
Malolactic fermentation, also more appropriately called malolactic conversion, is used in virtually all red wine as well as some fuller-bodied white wines such as Chardonnay to enhance the wine’s complexity and stability. On the flipside, white wines such as Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc do not undergo “malo” in order to preserve their desirable tart, acidic flavor profiles. Because malolactic fermentation can sometimes occur naturally, it needs to be prevented in certain instances through the addition of sulfur dioxide which kills any bacteria present in the wine, filtration which physically removes the bacteria, or the addition of an enzyme which discourages the process from occurring. Whether or not a wine has undergone malolactic fermentation has less to do with the wine’s quality and more to do with whether it can enhance the wine’s desired profile.
Now that you have learned about our latest Wine Word of the Week, it’s time for you to suggest your own! Just leave your suggestion in the “Comments” section below and stay tuned to see if we select your word. In the meantime you can check out previously selected Wine Words of the Week by clicking here.
This week’s Wine Word of the Week is Terroir and was suggested by Leah Yablong of West Palm Beach, FL. Thanks for the suggestion, Leah!
“Terroir” is a French term which, loosely translated, means “a sense of place.” It is used to refer to products such as cheese, meat, coffee and wine that reflect or represent qualities unique to a specific geographic location. With respect to wine, terroir refers to the intersection of grape variety, soil type, climate and winemaking technique which come together to create a wine that, theoretically, cannot be produced anywhere else in the world. The art of blind tasting is based on the concept that wines look, taste and smell a certain way depending on where they are produced. So, if a wine is said to express terroir, the wine is believed to represent where it comes from and is considered a “wine of place.”
It is important to note the concept of terroir has special significance in Old World wine regions (i.e. France, Italy, Germany) where wine has been produced since approximately the fourth century. Winemakers in these storied regions have been tasked with upholding and preserving the vinous traditions of their ancestors by relying on their wisdom, keen observations and tried and true techniques which have been passed down from generation to generation. New World wine regions (i.e. the United States, South America, Australia), on the other hand, have only been making wine since approximately the sixteenth century, often using vine cuttings and winemaking techniques from the Old World. By simple virtue of time, New World wine regions don’t yet have the experience with their geography that Old World regions do. Today, the evolution of terroir in the New World continues to be an exciting and dynamic process.
Thanks again for your suggestion, Leah, and I hope that helps! If you (yes, YOU) would like to suggest a word for our Wine Word of the Week segment, please leave it in the comment section below or on our Facebook Fan Page which you can access by clicking here. If we use your word, your name will be entered into our monthly drawing to win one month of The Wine Atelier’s “Explorateur” Wine Club but remember – you have to play to win so make your suggestion now!
This week’s Wine Word of the Week is Vin de Pays and was suggested by Meiers Tambeau of Atlanta, GA. Thanks for the suggestion, Meiers!
Vin de Pays, or “country wine” in French, is one of the levels of the French wine classification system. It was created in 1973 and finalized in 1979 with the goal of creating a classification which recognized and encouraged the production of wines superior to basic vin de table wines while also acknowledging the wine’s regional identity. Vin de pays is one level above Vin de Table (table wine) but below Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) and is the French national equivalent of the Europe-wide IGP or Indication Géographique Protégée (Protected Geographical Region).
For a wine to qualify as Vin de Pays it must conform to the standards of the classification and meet certain criteria. The wine cannot be blended, it must be produced in limited quantities, it must be made of certain specified grape varieties, it must reach a certain minimum alcoholic strength, it must come from a specified geographic region and it must be submitted to and approved by a tasting panel. The Vin de Pays classification benefits both producers and consumers in that it gives the consumers clarity regarding the wine’s provenance and it allows producers the opportunity to produce wines outside the strict constraints of the traditional AOC laws. Perhaps the most significant to consumers here in the US is that wines classified as Vin de Pays are permitted to label the wine according to the grape variety. This allows consumers the opportunity to purchase a French wine labeled with a grape variety they are probably familiar with such as Chardonnay, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Vin de Pays classification is further subdivided into three levels of geographic specificity. The top regional level has six divisions which roughly correspond to existing wine regions. These include: Vin De Pays du Jardin de la France (Loire); Vin De Pays de L’Atlantique (Bordeaux, Dordogne, Charentais); Vin de Pays du Comte Tolosan (South-West); Vin De Pays d’Oc (Languedoc-Roussillon); Vin De Pays Portes de Mediterranee (Provence and Corsica); and Vin De Pays des Comtes Rhodaniens (Rhone Valley, Beaujolais, and Savoie). The Languedoc-Roussillon produces more than three-quarters of all Vin de Pays wine and in 2006, it made five times more Vin de Pays than AOC wine produced that year.
About 80% of Vin de Pays wines are red, while white and rosé make up the balance. All of these wines are produced from 300 pre-approved grape varieties which are comprised mostly of International varieties (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). Under the 2009 changes, a Vin De Pays grape variety must comprise at least 85% of the stated variety on the label; where two varieties are stated on the label, they must constitute the full 100% of the blend.
Thanks again for your suggestion, Meiers, and I hope that helps! If you (yes, YOU) would like to suggest a word for our Wine Word of the Week segment, please leave it in the comment section below or on our Facebook Fan Page which you can access by clicking here. If we use your word, your name will be entered into our monthly drawing to win one month of The Wine Atelier’s “Explorateur” Wine Club but remember – you have to play to win so make your suggestion now!
This week’s Wine Word of the Week is “demi-sec” and was suggested by our fabulous Facebook Fan, Michelle Olson-Rogers – thanks for the suggestion, Michelle!
Demi-sec is a French term which literally means “semi-dry” or “medium-dry” yet is used to refer to wines which are slightly to medium sweet. The term is usually used in association with wines from France’s Champagne and Loire wine regions. In Champagne, the dosage, a mixture of wine and sugar added to the bottle following disgorgement, determines the final sweetness of the wine. So for a wine to be labelled as “demi-sec” the amount of sugar added can be anywhere from 35-50 g/l or 3.5-5% which is dictated by vinous law. The scale from driest to sweetest is (1) brut nature or sans dosage where no sugar is added, (2) extra brut, (3) brut, (4) extra dry, (5) sec, (6) demi-sec, and (7) doux which is the sweetest level. In the United States the different levels of sweetness do not have any legal definitions like they do in France.
So next time you see a wine with “demi-sec” on the label, you know the wine in that bottle will be somewhat sweet. Oftentimes, especially with Champagne, the sweetness in the wine is balanced by a lovely acidity so the wine doesn’t feel cloying on the palate. These delicious wines are perfect for serving with moderately sweet desserts and make an elegant addition to a dinner party.
Thanks again for your suggestion, Michelle, and I hope that helps! If you’d like to suggest a word for our Wine Word of the Week segment please leave it in the comment section below or on our Facebook Fan Page which you can access by clicking here. If we use your word, your name will be entered into our monthly drawing to win one month of The Wine Atelier’s “Explorateur” Wine Club but remember – you have to play to win so make your suggestion now!
This week’s Wine Word of the Week is “fining” and was suggested to us by our fabulous Facebook fan, Joan Axthelm – thanks for the suggestion, Joan!
Fining is a winemaking technique which removes microscopic particles and chemicals from a wine which can adversely affect its color, aroma and/or flavor. Fining agents such as bentonite, egg whites and gelatin are added to wine and act like a magnet, bonding with the undesirable components, which can include excessive tannins, microscopic particulate matter and/or other pesky chemicals. Once bonded, they precipitate out of solution and are removed, leaving the wine more chemically stable and less likely to spoil over time.
Fining is often used in the same sentence as “filtration,” as the two often go hand in hand. Whereas fining binds to particles or chemicals in order to remove them, filtration involves passing the wine through a physical filter, filtering out anything larger than the pores of the barrier. Filtration removes harmful compounds including yeast (i.e Brettanomyces) and/or bacteria (i.e. malolactic bacteria) through filtration mediums including cellulose fiber pads, diatomaceous earth, and perlite.
It is important to note that while there are many advantages of using these techniques, not the least of which is making a wine more suitable for the aging process, one of the disadvantages of fining and filtration is that they can strip a wine of desirable flavor and/or aroma compounds. For this reason, many winemakers who bottle their wines “unfiltered and unfined,” promote them as being superior to those that are. Unfortunately this factor alone does not guarantee a wine’s quality – what good is a wine with more nuanced aromas and flavors if it has been spoiled by the ravages of Brettanomyces? The fact is, there are quality wines in both categories so it’s best to let your palate be the final determiner of a wine’s quality.
Thanks again for your suggestion, Joan and if you’d like to suggest a word for our Wine Word of the Week segment please leave it in the comment section below or on The Glamorous Gourmet & Wine Atelier Facebook Fan Page which you can access by clicking here. If we use your word, your name will be entered into our monthly drawing to win one month of The Wine Atelier’s “Explorateur” Wine Club but remember, you have to play to win!