This term refers to the naturally occurring acids found in grapes and wine. The primary acids include; tartaric, malic and citric. These same acids are found in apples, pears, oranges, peaches to name a few. Lactic acid is also found in wines which are permitted to undergo the secondary fermentation known as the "Malo – Lactic Fermentation". This process is conducted by naturally occurring bacteria present in wine which converts the malic acid into CO2 gas and lactic acid. Typically, wines range from 4 to 8 grams of acid per liter of wine. The more acid a wine has the more tart or sour a wine will taste. Wines with higher acidities usually age longer than wines possessing less acidity.
This is a region in northeast France (north of Burgundy). The most famous grape varieties grown in the region are Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Usually, the wines are fermented dry. They are quite often fermented in neutral barrels and aged on yeast lees which lends an elegant creamy texture – structure to the wines. In the United State of America, the States of New York, Oregon and Washington produce superb "Alsace" styled wines. This wine style is without question best suited to being enjoyed with richly seasoned foods (especially those served with cream sauces).
These are names used to indicate a specific – official area where a wine originates. Appellation is the French term for these areas while AVA (American Viticultural Area) is used for grapes grown in the United States of America. Some French examples are Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Haute Bordeaux, Burgundy or Rhone Valley. Washington State has many AVA designations to include the local "Lake Chelan AVA". In order for an AVA to be granted by the federal government, the petitioners must convincingly show why their growing region is markedly different from areas outside of the specific AVA boundary they propose be recognized.
These refer to the smell of a wine. In some instances, old school wine consumers will only use this term to define the aromatics of a "young" wine. Once they no longer consider a wine "young" they will use the term "bouquet"to define the aromatics. Much to the chagrin of these old timers I use both interchangeably. The term "nose" is slang used by Winemakers to denote aromas or flavors.
Astringency is that cotton ball drying sensation one occasionally experiences while drinking wines (especially young red wines). This is caused by naturally occurring compounds called "tannins". Tannins are found primarily in grape skins, seeds and stems. Tannins are a natural preservative. The more tannin a wine has the longer it will age prior to becoming oxidized. Winemakers must decide while making each wine just how long they desire their red wines to age. This will in turn determine how long the juice is fermented in contact with the tannin rich skins.
A wooden storage container. Generally oak is the preferred type of wood used to craft barrels. Sizes most commonly used are 59, 65, 70 and 90 gallon. The major forests used to source wood for barrel making are; central and northeast France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, central and eastern United States of America.
This winemaking term indicates juice was transferred from a tank to individual barrels for the yeast fermentation. Usually, the variety Chardonnay is barrel fermented. Occasionally, other white varieties such as Viognier, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon may be fermented in oak barrels. Oak from any forest may be used for barrel making however, typically barrels crafted from European forests such as France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia or domestically from the United States are selected for this winemaking approach.
Depending on how much oak flavor a winery desires its wines to possess will determine how many new barrels are employed as well as how long the wine will remain in barrel before bottling. The longer a wine remains in the barrel on the yeast sediment the more oak flavor the barrel will impart to the wine and the creamier – softer the wine will feel on your palate. Usually, white wines are aged 6 to 10 months in oak.
A term used to describe wines which possess aromas and flavors of blackberries, black currants, black sweet cherries or blueberries. Unless making a special styled wine, Winemakers are not adding these fruits to their wines.
Body, Texture and Structure are words used to describe the impression of a wine's weight in your mouth. The most common adjectives are; light, medium, medium – plus and full. A light bodied wine will taste and feel watery in your mouth. The flavors and aromas will not persist very long in your mouth after swallowing the wine. A full bodied wine will feel very heavy and rich in your mouth. The aromas and flavors will persist for many minutes after swallowing the wine.
A person stating "I like red Bordeaux" indicates they prefer a wine crafted utilizing red grape varieties traditionally grown in the Bordeaux region of France. The Bordeaux region is located on the western coast of France. The varieties include; Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot and Petite Verdot. It is unusual for a "Red Bordeaux" wine made in France to be a single variety. Typically, Red Bordeaux wines are blends utilizing two or more of the traditional red grape varieties grown in the region. In the United States, excellent red Bordeaux styled wines are produced in the States of California and Washington. Anyone who is a carnivore usually loves a well made Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or Merlot. Red meats served with sauces which incorporate some of the wine in them are a great combination.
A wine classified as a "White Bordeaux" indicates the wine was crafted utilizing white grape varieties traditionally grown in the Bordeaux region of France. The Bordeaux region is located on the western coast of France. These varieties include; Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. Outstanding Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat wines are produced in Washington State. The wines may be finished from dry to Ultra Sweet. The drier styles are superb with Pacific Rim cuisine. Barrel fermented – extended lees contact versions are excellent with French foods centered around foods seasoned with Provence herbs and served with cream sauces.
A Red Burgundy is a wine made using one or more of the grape varieties Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Gamay. Pinot Noir is by far the most famous and expensive of the three. Typically, Red Burgundies are not as darkly colored as Bordeaux or Rhone styled wines. The Burgundy region of France is located on the eastern border of the country it shares with Germany. Domestically, the State of Oregon probably produces the finest Pinot Noir red wines. I may catch some flack for writing this however, it is my humble opinion that Pinot Noir wines are less powerful or weighty than red Bordeaux and red Rhone wines. Therefore, Pinot Noir wines are excellent with grilled or smoked salmon, rabbit and game birds.
The term Brix is used by winemakers to denote the percentage of soluble solids (sugar) found in grape juice and must. For example, a tank of freshly pressed Riesling juice is found to have a Brix measurement of 24.5. This means the 24.5% of that juice is sugar. As yeast feed on the sugars during the fermentation process the Brix reading will decrease.
When one decants a wine you are simply transferring the wine from the bottle to another container. Decanting is done for two reasons. One may be to separate the clear wine from sediment in the bottle. Second reason would be to aerate the wine. Aerating a wine will speed up the release of aroma and flavors from a wine. This is a very valuable technique used with young wines whether they are red, white or rosé. Be careful when decanting older red wines which possess a large amount of sediment. The sediment is always very bitter. Make sure it is left behind in the bottle when decanting the wine. Also, the aromas and flavors of a decanted wine will fade more rapidly the older the wine. Be prepared to drink the older decanted red wines within 15 – 30 minutes of being decanted. Every home should have a decanter. It matters not whether the decanter is a $1,000 Riedel or a Mason quart canning jar. While one may look more elegant than the other they both get the job done.
Wines all have various amounts of sugar remaining in them after fermentation has been completed. The human palate is usually able to detect residual sugar in a wine at levels as low as 3 grams per liter of wine. Some wines ferment down to less than ½ gram per liter residual sugar. Technically, wines possessing 10 grams per liter or less are labeled "Dry" even though you are able to taste sugar levels far less than this.
Earthy is a word used to describe wines which have aromas and flavors similar to mushrooms, damp earth, peat moss, musty etc. I am of the opinion it is typically not desirable to have a wine described as "earthy". I love eating sautéed mushrooms. I do not care for my wines to taste like raw mushrooms or wet – musty peat moss.
Wines which are fine and richly structured are "elegant". The opposite would be a wine which is awkward, coarse or forceful in unpleasant ways. Wines which have far too much tannin are not elegant. They possess a great deal of mouth drying pucker power. A wine which has far too much acidity is not elegant. It is sour or tart to the point of "hey, my teeth just lost a layer of enamel after sipping this wine!".
When you read the word "Estate" on a wine label this means the grapes used to make the wine in that bottle were grown in vineyards owned and farmed by the same winery.
There are two types of fermentations. They are; yeast which is called the "primary fermentation" by Winemakers and bacterial which is called the "secondary fermentation" or "malo-lactic fermentation". While feeding on the sugars and vitamins found in grape juice, yeast converts approximately 60 percent of the sugars into alcohol. The balance of the sugars are converted into heat and CO2 gas. Specific strains of bacteria feed on the malic and citric acids found naturally in wines and convert them to lactic acid. Bacteria may feed on sugars as well however, this is not desirable.
This style of wine is made by the addition of alcohol to a wine. Port is a perfect example of a fortified wine. Usually, the source of alcohol used is a brandy or what we call locally "Everclear" which is 100% grain alcohol produced at a distillery. Fortified wines usually possess alcohols between 19 – 24 percent by volume. Non – fortified wines have alcohols in the 11 to 15 percent range.
French oak is harvested from the forests located in central and eastern France. The traditional names of the various forests include; Allier, Argonne, Bourgogne, Vosges, Nevers and Limousin. As with wine grapes, the soil type, elevation and the amount of rainfall where a tree grows are going to affect a tree's growth. Trees growing in an area with warmer temperatures and plentiful rainfall will grow faster than trees growing at higher – cooler elevations or with much less rainfall. Trees which grow fast will have less dense wood which means wine will penetrate into the wood faster. The faster a wine penetrates into the wood of a barrel the faster the oak flavors are extracted into the wine. Many Winemakers select the barrel based on the density of the wood used to make the barrel. This in turn will determine the length of time they will age a wine in the barrel.
Often you will read the words "Cabernet Sauvignon", "Merlot" or "Chardonnay" on a bottle label. These are the names of the primary grape variety used to make the wine in the bottle. In the United States of America in order to legally use the name of a grape variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon on a label at least 75% of the grapes used to make that bottle of wine must be from Cabernet Sauvignon fruit. Labels not using grape variety names usually resort to a name dreamed up by the winery personnel or friends of said winery. "Tri*Umph" and "Caris" are examples of C. R. Sandidge wines which are blends which do not have at least 75% of a single grape used to make that particular wine.
Flavors and aromas of; sage, mint, black pepper, dill, fresh cut grass or hay are herbal or herbaceous adjectives. The cut grass and hay aromas are indications of poor grape growing. Dill is the result of poor barrel maintenance and is therefore a winemakers fault. Mint, sage and black pepper are flavors found in various types of grapes naturally. Wines made from Syrah often have sage and black pepper aromas and flavors. In these cases it is due to genetics.
Lees is the name for the grape solids and yeast sediment found at the bottom of a fermentation vessel such as a tank or barrel after fermentation has been completed. Storing wines on lees is a technique used often especially with barrel fermented white wines. By storing a white wine on its fermentation lees the wine becomes softer, less acidic and very full bodied. White wines may also take on a buttery flavor and aroma due to extended lees contact.
This is the "secondary fermentation" possible in winemaking. Naturally occurring bacteria in wine converts the malic acid to softer lactic acid and CO2 gas. Almost all dry red wines are encouraged to undergo the malo-lactic fermentation. Most barrel fermented white wines are also allowed to complete the malo-lactic fermentation process.
These interchangeable terms are used to describe a wine which has noticeable yet less than 20 grams per liter residual sugar. Most wines possessing between 7 and 19 grams of residual sugar per liter fall into this category.
The term Must is used by winemakers to denote a mix of grape; juice, pulp, seeds and skins of freshly crushed grapes.
Wineries and vineyards located outside Europe are considered "New World". So……. we are talking about; South America, North America, Australia, Africa and Asia. Currently there are no wineries or vineyards on the continent of Antarctica.
These terms are used to describe oak barrels which have been used so many times they have no more flavor to impart to wines stored in them. Usually, barrels used for red and white wines may be used three and four times respectively before they become nothing more than a neutral storage vessel. I used about 15% neutral barrels in winemaking. This provides me with a base from which to blend in newer barrels of oaky wine.
Vines are usually 40 years or older before being classified as "old vine". The oldest vine I personally ever saw was reported to be 300 + years old back in 1990. It is living in the country of South Africa. It was still producing a grape crop at that time.
These terms are used by wine tasters to describe different characteristics a wine displays in the tasters mouth. For example, "this wine is too astringent for my palate". Translation, "For me personally this wine has too much tannin, let us order a different wine".
This term is used to designate wines that are stylistically presumably finer – higher quality than the "normal" version of the same wine. Often, wineries will use the terms "barrel select" and "reserve" to indicate the same uniqueness. With C. R. Sandidge Winery, our TriUmph wine is the equivalent of a reserve or barrel select wine.
This style of wine is the exact same as the French "Champagne". Due to international laws areas making this style of wine may not call them Champagne unless the grapes used to make the wine were grown in the Champagne region of France. A slang term for sparkling wine is "bubbly". The process for making sparkling wine is very labor intensive and time consuming. The finished product can be stunningly good. Almost every wine producing country in the world offers sparkling wine. The best are made in France, Spain, Italy and the United States of America. Sparkling wines are excellent when matched with blue cheeses, cheese or fresh fruit based appetizers or an alluring companion.
Nutmeg, sweet vanilla, clove, anise, coconut, licorice are "spicy" flavors and aromas found in certain wines. Almost all of those I listed are the result of oak. Occasionally, people will refer to Gewurztraminer wines as having spicy flavors and aromas. Personally, other than clove and allspice characteristics I am not sure what they are referring too.
The next time you purchase table grapes take the stems and chew on them. This is what winemakers refer to as "stemmy". If you detect this while tasting a wine avoid it for it is not a pleasant flavor or aroma.
Wet stones? When you next find yourself walking around your homes landscape or a creek bank pick up a wet stone and smell it. There you have it. This is what some wines smell like. As long as it is not a stone covered in green algae the stone probably smells pretty nice. Riesling and Pinot Blanc wines often have a wet stone note.
One could say New England Preppie and Victoria's Secret are styles. Wines display styles too! Oaky, No – Oak, Reserve, Non – Reserve, Fruit Bomb, Powerful, Soft……. the adjectives are only limited by a person's imagination. Some folks with use the term "style" to indicate a like or dislike for a particular style of winemaking. For example, "the C. R. Sandidge style rocks my world".
Sweet wines are those which possess more than 2% residual sugar. The sweetness is very noticeable.
This is the French word covering the environment a vineyard is growing in such as; soil type, average rainfall, slope of the land and normal seasonal temperatures.
This term describes a wine that is not showing much flavor, aroma or structure. Usually, young wines are tight. To combat this you may decant the wine. The resulting aeration of the wine helps the wine "open up" or not be tight.
These wines are those which have greater than 4 to 6 percent residual sugar. The Australians call them "Stickys". Icewines, and the German Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines fall into the Ultra Sweet category. In France, the Sauterne wines are usually Ultra Sweet. Do not make the mistake of serving Ultra Sweet wines with a sweet dessert. This combination of sweet on sweet is simply too much sugar. Ultra Sweet wines actually match extremely well with blue cheeses, salami or nuts such as almonds, pecans and walnuts.
This adjective is used to indicate a wine which possesses flavors and aromas of asparagus, bell peppers or green peas. Depending on the person vegetal aromas and flavors may or may not be pleasant. Quite often, these characteristics are eliminated with a change in grape growing practices. In order to not have these aromas and flavors in a wine the growing practices need to change in the vineyard. In this way the grapes harvested do not have the vegetal characteristics.
Vintage refers to the year a crop of grapes was grown and harvested. For example, bottles with the year 2008 on the label means the wine in this bottle were made from grapes grown and harvested in the year 2008.
Viticulture is the science of growing grapes.
The biological family of grapes is called Vitis.
The species of wine grapes native to south - central Asia. Most of the world's wine grapes are this species. The grapes native to North America are of the "Labruscana" species. The grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon hails from south – central Asia and is therefore of the species Vinifera. The grape variety Concord is native to North America which makes it a Labruscana species.
Established in 2005, this grape growing region is an American Viticultural Area located within central Washington State. It is part of the larger Columbia Valley AVA. It extends from the Columbia River in the west, the Hanford Site boundary in the southwest, the north bank of the Columbia River on the south up to the Wahluke Wildlife Refuge in the east, and along the 1,480-foot (450 m) elevation of the Saddle Mountains on the north. While the AVA is slightly more than 81,000 acres in size only 5,400 acres of wines grapes are currently planted in the AVA. The area has the warmest climates for grape growing in the state. The area is primarily known for red grape production. This is where our C. R. Sandidge "Stone Tree Vineyard" fruit is grown. \
Unfortunately there are people who believe their wine choices are superior to that of other people. This is unfortunate for Wine Snobs….. they missed the point. Wine is all about bringing pleasure to the person consuming the wine. If an $8 bottle of red floats your boat more power to you! It is important to keep trying different wines as more than one style may do the trick. Remember, wine in moderation equals pleasure.
This AVA was the first American Viticultural Area established within Washington State, gaining the recognition in 1983. Part of the larger Columbia Valley AVA, the Yakima Valley AVA is planted to more than 11,000 acres of vineyards, giving the area the largest concentration of wineries and vineyards in the state of Washington. The most widely planted varietals in the area are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling. Approximately 40% of Washington state yearly wine production is made from Yakima Valley grapes. The Yakima Valley's borders include the sub-AVA of the Rattlesnake Hills to the north, the Horse Heaven Hills AVA to the south and the Red Mountain AVA forming parts of its eastern boundaries. On the west, the Cascade Range forms a natural border and creates a very effective rain shadow over the area. The appellation covers 600,000 acres of land. The vineyards of; Klingele, Boushey, Kestrel and Minick hail from the central portion of the Yakima Valley AVA.