Lingo

Acids—naturally present in grapes, acid gives wine tartness, making a wine seem “crisp” or “refreshing.”

American Viticultural Area (AVA)—a specific region, defined and approved by State and Federal agencies, that is unique in its climate, soils and topography. Local AVA’s include Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Happy Canyon.

Balance—the relationship between the various components of a wine; acid, sweetness, flavor, oak, tannin and alcohol.

Body—the weight or “mouthfeel” of a wine; light body connotes a thin, watery feeling in your mouth, while heavier bodied wine is “thicker” and more full-flavored.

Bouquet—the smell that results from the fermentation and aging of a wine.

Brix—a standardized scale to measure the sugar content in grapes and grape juice before fermentation.

Clone—a sub-variety within a grape variety. There are different clones of many varieties, each expressing different characteristics of size, flavor profile, suitability to various soil and climate conditions and disease resistance.

Corked—a fault in wine caused by a contaminated cork. Usually easier to recognize than describe; it is woody, moldy and musty smelling and often tastes of wet cardboard.

Dry – term for wine that has no residual sugar. Often misused to describe wines that are not fruity. Most table wines (except for dessert wines) are dry, but many have fruity and/or oaky flavors that can be perceived as sweet.

Fermentation—the process in which yeast converts grape sugar into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, making grape juice into wine.

Finish— the overall taste and feeling that remains in your mouth after you’ve swallowed a wine. Typically described as “long,” “short,” “clean,” etc.

Funk Zone—the area near the beach in Santa Barbara, bordered by State Street, 101 Freeway and Garden St., that is home to many wine tasting rooms and eclectic shops.

Malolactic Fermentation—a secondary bacterial fermentation that most reds and some whites go through. Sharper malic acid is converted to lactic acid, decreasing tartness and creating buttery aromas and a richer, smoother wine.

Nose—a term for the aroma and bouquet of a wine. The nose is best evaluated immediately after swirling the wine in your glass.

Tannins—found in grape skins, seeds and stems. They can cause bitterness and astringency; some tannins are desirable in red wines to give them structure.

Tartrates—tartaric acid crystals which sometimes form in wine (often on the cork, or at the bottom of the bottle). They do not affect flavor and are not harmful to drink.

Terroir—term for the complex combination of soil, climate and exposition that define the style of a wine. A sense of the “place” from which a wine came.

Varietal—the type of grape from which the wine was made.  A wine made (or sold) in the US must contain at least 75% of the varietal listed on the label.

Viognier—(vee-own-yay),  a white wine varietal indigenous to France’s northern Rhône Valley. Known for its exotic, floral bouquet and flavors.

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