Harvest for white grapes in California is quickly approaching. In case any of you are lucky enough to visit a winery during this special season, below is a cheat-sheet for the “Top 10” commonly used terms.
1. Malolactic Fermentation: Often referred to simply as “ML,” this chemical process converts harsh malic acid to softer lactic acid
2. Rack: siphon wine into a new, clean barrel leaving the sediment of debris behind
3. Cap: hard top that forms during fermentation at the top of the tank, (composed of skins which are flavor & color saturated)
4. Punch-down: Pushing down the cap so that it mixes with the liquid
5. Pump-over: pump juice over the cap during fermentation to extract color, flavor & tannins
6. Fine: clarify or make the wine more clear
7. On the lees: wine in contact with the cellular debris of yeasts & grape skins
8. Green harvest: to cut off excess grapes (usually in June or July) in order to
concentrate the flavors of those left on the vine
9. Saignée (sen-yay): French word for “bleeding.” Often times used when referring to making a rosé. Very young red wine juice (barely pink-tinged) is
removed from the vat early and vinified separately.
10. Methode Champenoise: this term can only legally be used in the French wine district of Champagne. It denotes that the 2nd fermentation was done in the bottle.