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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Wine Glossary
Thursday, April 24, 2014

OPEN: When the wine doesn't have much aroma. 

ABOCADO: Medium sweet wine. 

ACIDIC: Caustic tasting wine, almost burning, due to the natural acids of fermentation or of the grape. 

VIVACIOUS: Wine with a smooth aroma, slightly acidic. Also slightly sparkling wines are given this name.   

ALMENDRADO: This is an almond-like flavour present in young red wines made by carbonic maceration. Excessive oxidation in white wines or the so-called “gusto de luz” (taste of light) of sparkling wines can also give this flavour. 

BITTER: The taste of the wine sensed at the back of the tongue. 

VINTAGE: Year in which a wine's grapes were harvested. Must be written on the bottle. 

AGED: Wine kept in bottles or barrels for a minimum of three years. 

ATTACK: The first sensation produced by wine in the mouth.   

VELVETY: Especially in red wines, it is the smooth, silky sensation felt while drinking the wine. 

CASK: Wooden cask used to age wine.   

BOUQUET: This French word describes the combined aromas of a wine. Also used to refer to the aroma of aged wines.   

BRUT: This is the name given to very dry sparkling wine, generally used for cavas. There are different classifications depending on the amount of sugar. 

CARAMELISED: An aroma found in those wines that have been bottled hot, those that have been aged for a long time, Reserva or Gran Reserva. 

CHARACTER: A particularity of certain wines that makes them appreciated and unmistakable. 

FLESHY: Fatty, rich wine that gives a sensation of being dense.   

CHACOLÍ: Basque white wine, quite light and acidic, because it is made with unripe grapes. 

CHAPTALIZATION: The addition of sugar to enrich the must and increase alcoholic strength. 

COMPLEX: A wine that offers a variety of sensations, harmonic and well made, with a full, expressive bouquet.   

HEAD: The formation of bubbles in sparkling wine or cava in the glass, when they reach the surface, which determines its quality.   

CRIADERAS: The barrels where the vino de Jerez  (sherry wine) is aged.   

CRIANZA  (AGEING): Controlled ageing of wine. A moderate amount of oxygen is added to enable its evolution, as well as giving it the flavour of wood and spicy aromas. Wine should be aged for at least six months in a barrel and one year in the bottle.   

BODY: Substance and structure of wine. 

ELEGANT: Describes a distinguished wine, with harmonious scent and aroma. The taste must be well balanced and it must have a great bouquet. 

FORTIFICATION: The action of stopping the fermentation of must by adding wine alcohol, thereby keeping part of the sugar. Fortified wines are subjected to this process.   

VERAISON: The season in which the grape's colour begins to change.   

BALANCE: A quality implying that all the components of wine are in harmony. 

STRUCTURE: The interrelation of acidity, alcohol, density, etc. in a wine. 

EVOLVED: A wine that has gone through modifications over time. 

ALCOHOLIC FERMENTATION: Biochemical process in the must that establishes the conversion of sugars into alcohol through the action of yeast.   

MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION: A second fermentation undertaken by certain wines in which the malic acid becomes lactic acid due to the action of bacteria. 

FINO: Biologically aged Vino de Jerez  (sherry wine).   

FLOWERY: Scent present in some wines similar to that of flowers. 

FRUITY: Scent present in some wines similar to that of fruit. 

GENEROSO (FORTIFIED WINE): Wine with an alcohol content of between 15 and 23 degrees. 

GRAN RESERVA: Wine that has been aged for a long time in oak barrels and in the bottle. In general it must spend a minimum of two years in barrels and three in the bottle, although it may be different in some areas. 

HERBACEOUS: This is the scent and taste found in certain wines that leave a hint of the vegetable matter from crushed grapes, in particular the green stalks. 

SKIN: Skin of the grape. 

YOUNG: Wine that has not been aged. This type of wine is made to be marketed right away. The qualities sought are its fruity, fresh qualities. 

PRESS ROOM: This is the area in the winery where the grape presses are. 

LEG: A mark left in the glass by a wine rich in alcohol, sugar and glycerin. 

YEAST: The unicellular fungus found on grape skins. They begin the alcoholic fermentation process.   

MACERATION: This is the immersion of the of grape skins in the fermenting must. Its duration can vary. 

STAINED WINE: This refers to white wine with a slight pinkish tone, due to its having been stored in deposits where red wine had been stored earlier.   

BUTTER: A noble aroma detected in quality wines, especially if they have undergone the malolactic fermentation process.   

MANZANILLA: fino, or fortified wine. It is made in the Andalusian town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.   

MENTHOL: A noble aroma that may be present in certain aged red wines.   

MISTELLE: This is the mix obtained by adding pure wine alcohol to must. 

MUST: Grape juice before fermentation. 

OLOROSO: Jerez wine with an alcohol content between 18 and 20 degrees and a slightly nutty aroma. It is made by oxidative ageing.   

POMACE: It is the residue left after the grapes have been pressed. It can be used as fertiliser or it can be distilled to make orujo liquor. 

OXIDATION: Alteration affecting the colour and freshness of white wine when it is exposed to oxygen. It can also happen to red wine, which is moderately oxidised during the ageing process. Excessive oxidation can ruin its colour and qualities. 

STRAW COLOURED: White wine with a yellow colour similar to that of straw. 

PALE: Adjective used for white wines with low chromatic intensity.   

PALO CORTADO: A rare wine, with the perfume of the Jerez amontillado  wine and the flavour of the Jerez oloroso. 

PASSERILLAGE: Scents that leave a hint of raisins. They can be found in those wines made with overripe grapes.   

TENACITY: Duration of the sensations provoked by wine both in the nose and in the mouth. 

AFTER TASTE: Flavours and aromas which remain present after swallowing the wine. 

ROUND: A well balanced wine, where all the components are in harmony. 

REDUCTION: This is a process that improves wine. During this process the wine only consumes the oxygen inside the container and ages slowly. 

RESERVA: It is the name given to those wines that have been aged for a long time. 

AFTER TASTE: Flavours and aromas which remain present after tasting the wine.   

OAK: This is the scent and flavour obtained by ageing in aromatic oak barrels. It must be in perfect harmony with the other characteristics of the wine.   

ROSE: This is the wine made with red grapes but in which the must is separated from the skins before fermentation.   

SANGRÍA: Traditional Spanish drink for the summer. It is made with wine and fruit. 

DRY: It is the quality of those wines that have fermented completely, transforming all its sugar in alcohol.   

SOLERA: The part of the winery where are the oldest wines, in the lowest row of a barrel stack. It is also an ageing system consisting in improving the younger wine with some of the older wine. This system is used, for instance, for making sherry wine.   

TOBACCO: In some good, well-aged wines, the aroma can evoke that of tobacco.   

TENDER: Adjective used with dry, not very acidic wine that is light and with little extract.   

RACKING: Process carried out in the winery to air and decant it, getting rid of the residue that is left in the deposits.   

UNCTUOUS: A silky, smooth wine. It is also rich in glycerin.   

VARIETY: A type of wine with specific characteristics. All the type of grape belong to the same species: Vitis vinifera. 

VARIETAL WINE: A wine made with a single grape variety. 

GRAPE HARVEST: The collection of the grapes from the grapevines.   

GREENNESS: An immature wine, which has not yet evolved to harmonise its acidity. 

WINEMAKING: Operations carried out to transform must into wine. 

LIGHT PRESSING: It is the first processing of must, which is drained without being pressed. 

IODINATED: This is the aroma and flavour acquired by some wines made near the sea. The colour of wine when it begins to evolve. 

ZURRACAPOTE: Refreshing beverage made of wine, sugar, cinnamon and lemon. 

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A short history of wine
Thursday, April 24, 2014

In order to place grapes on a timeline, it is necessary to go back several thousand years. During the autumn, in temperate zones, there were plenty of ripe grapes, a nutritious, healthy and widely appreciated fruit. However, prehistoric man had to face long winters, freezing-cold periods and ineffective, rudimentary or non-existent production techniques, which made the conservation of food for the leaner times very difficult. The solution to this problem was fermentation, that is, the transformation of a raw material. For example, that was the origin of cheese, made from milk; or bread, from cereal; or wine itself, created from grapes. Wine "elevated the soul" of Greeks, Romans and Americans. 

Wine was making headway and was here to stay. Humans realised that wine was not only a comforting drink, it also “elevates the soul” thanks to its “spiritual” component (spirits, to be exact). 

It was also the perfect complement for many foods. Mediterranean countries soon made wine part of their lifestyle, thanks to the Phoenicians and the Greeks, who promoted its rapid expansion. 

It was the Romans, however, who were most responsible for spreading and studying wine culture, for economic and strategic reasons . For them it was a pillar in the structure of their economic, political and organisational system. When the Roman Empire crumbled away, it was the Church who continued the task. For the Church, wine was a very important element of its dogma, its liturgy and its sacraments – in those days, the Church was an hegemonic institution, in terms of both religion and politics. 

During the Middle Ages, Spain became the wine producing country par excellence, and this was extended to the other countries of the Spanish Empire. On their journeys to America, they took European grapevines to the other side of the ocean; above all so that the conquerors could avoid the risk of drinking water. Soon the presence of grapevines spread from Oregon to Chile and from Argentina to Florida, making the most of those lands and climates. 

After the decline of the Spanish Empire, France became absolutely immersed in wine culture, and is the main reference in the area to this day.

We can say that wine has been a defining feature in many cultures and has helped to strengthen links between them. Literature, music and other arts are full of references to wine. Greek culture is laden with stories related to wine. In Greek mythology, the divine hero Ganymede enjoyed wine and in The Odyssey, Ulysses uses it to get the Cyclops to relax so that he can escape. The most widely-known literary quote referring to wine is a reference to Noah in the book of Genesis in the Bible which states: “Noah, the tiller of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk”. 

And last but not least, the famous canvas by the Italian painter Caravaggio depicting the god Bacchus, who for the Romans embodied celebration, revelry and immoderation. The Italian artist immortalised him as a young man wearing a lush crown of grapes and holding a glass of red wine in his left hand. Today, the presence of wine is as strong as it is in that 16th century picture. 

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