Wine 102: Wine Glossary C-D

This is the second edition of my Wine 102 Wine glossary pages.  Please enjoy and I hope you can learn some new knowledge over the next few weeks or so. (Info collect from sources including wikipedia)

Canopy Management: The “canopy” is the “curtain” of leaves and shoots formed by a grapevine. Canopy management includes the techniques of leaf removal, shoot positioning, trellises and vine spacing that are used to improve the light and air circulation on the fruit. This helps produce better color, flavor and ripeness of wine grapes, and can also reduce the need to treat for pests and diseases.

Cap: The floating solids (skins, seeds, pulp, and bits of stem) in a tank of fermenting red wine. It binds together forming a thick mat which must be broken up and pushed down into the wine frequently during fermentation in order to extract the color, flavor, and tannins and to make sure it doesn’t dry out and develop unwanted bacteria. The original method was to “punch down the cap” with a large paddle. Newer methods include pumping the juice over the cap to stir it up, tanks with special screens that keep it submerged, and tanks that rotate periodically, blending the cap and juice together.

Carbonic Maceration: A process where wine grapes are not crushed but fermented whole. They are dumped whole into vats filled with carbon dioxide where the top grapes actually crush the bottom grapes by weight. Yeast is added if necessary to start the fermentation. More cabon dioxide is produced that blocks air exposure to the fermenting mass. Eventually the whole mass is pressed and fermentation finishes in the normal manner. The process is used to make wines which are particularly light and fruity, drinkable very early, but which do not improve with bottle aging. This is the process commonly used to produce “nouveau” wines of the Beaujolais region of France.

Corked: Term used to describe a wine that’s been affected by a faulty cork. This characteristic is caused by a chemical compound that humans can perceive at levels as low as 30 parts per trillion! High levels of this compound produce an unmistakably putrefying odor and flavor that many compare to that of moldy, wet cardboard or newspapers. At moderate levels, it seems austere and lacking in fruit. This is why research is proceeding rapidly for an acceptable synthetic cork. And in some cases, screwtops!

Crushing: The process of crushing and destemming wine grapes just prior to fermentation to extract the juice. The crushing process must be gentle enough so that the seeds are not broken or their bitter flavor will enter the juice. Modern wineries use crusher-stemmers which separate out the stems from the juice, skins, and seeds. “The Crush” refers to the autumn season when grapes ripen and are fermented.

Decanting: Decanting is done to either separate the wine from sediment that has formed as part of the aging process or to allow the wine to “breathe” (or oxydize) or both. As wines age, they often “throw” some sediment in the bottle which you can see if you hold a bottle up to the light. To remove sediment from wine you should stand a bottle upright for a few hours to let the bulk of the sediment fall to the bottom, remove the cork, and then carefully and slowly pour the wine into a decanter. Age worthy wines usually come in a bottle with a square shoulder that is intended to hold back the bulk of the sediment. If the wine has alot of sediment you should leave a small amount of the wine in the bottle so the bulk of the sediment does not get into the decanter. You only really understand this whole thing when you get a mouth full of sediment for the first, and hopefully the last time! The reason to use a decanter to allow a wine to breathe is that it provides a larger surface area for oxydation to take place…all the better for impatient people who just can’t wait to drink that wine!

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The Contributor

Australian Business man living in Shenzhen for over 4 years. Well traveled in China and the rest of the world (not that anything outside of China really matters when you are inside of China). Currently involved in the Wine industry, but previously involved in Tobacco, Medical and Logistics Industries world wide.

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