Wine 102: Wine Glossary U-Y
Ullage: The empty space above the liquid in a wine bottle, wine barrel or tank. Ullage in a bottle is often used as an indicator of how well a cork seals its bottle. Of course there is always some space there even in new wines where wineries inject nitrogen into the space before inserting the cork. In a young wine, large ullage is a sign that the wine is bad due to a bad cork. In older wines, it can mean that the wine has been exposed to undue oxygen and therefore is bad. In barrels, the wine is topped off occasionally so that the wine does not become oxydized.
Vitis Vinifera:The grape vine species that produces 99% of the worlds wine grapes. It was originally native to Europe and Asia but is now planted worldwide. The major varieties of this species are cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, chenin blanc, merlot, pinot noir, reisling, sauvignon blanc, syrah, and zinfandel.
Weeper:Term that describes a bottle of wine that is weeping or leaking slightly around its cork. This can be caused by a faulty cork or by poor storage where a cork that wasn’t kept moist shrank. Weepers aren’t necessarily bad bottles of wine, although it’s possible that spoilage could have occurred.
Wine Bottles (size): We get asked from time to time about the different standard sizes of wine bottles and their names. So here’s a list according to the French…there really are no standards in the US. Split – 187 ml or one-quarter of a standard bottle. Half bottle – 375 ml. No name! – 500 ml. Standard bottle – 750 ml. Magnum – 1.5 liters or 2 bottles. Double magnum – 3 liters or 4 bottles (in Bordeaux). Jeroboam – 3 liters or 4 bottles (in Champagne) OR 4.5 liters or 6 bottles (in Bordeaux). Rehoboam – 4.5 liters or 6 bottles (in Champagne). Methuselah – 6 liters or 8 bottles (in Champagne). Imperial – 6 liters or 8 bottles (in Bordeaux). Salmanazar – 9 liters or 12 bottles. Balthazar – 12 liters or 16 bottles. Nebuchadnezzar – 15 liters or 20 bottles.
Yeast: Unicellular microorganisms which occur naturally in the air, especially in areas where fruits are grown. Whether “wild” or “cultured,” yeast can quickly metabolize natural sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (called fermentation). When all, or most, of the natural sugar of grape juice has been transformed into alcohol, it is said to have been changed into wine.