This organic acid is found in all wines, usually at minimal levels, and can accentuate aromas and flavours. Too much can result in volatile acidity, which gives wines pungent - often unpleasant - aromas and flavours like those found in vinegar.
Found in all grapes at varying levels. Too much acid renders a wine undrinkable, although high acid levels are often welcome in fresh, young white wines. On the other hand, if wine does not have enough acidity, the result is flat or insipid-tasting. If acid levels are too low, acid may be added to ensure it is in balance.
The term used to describe the cellaring of wines until the they reach full maturity. Many white wines, particularly those made from aromatic grape varieties, do not need ageing, while how long reds are cellared is purely a matter of taste on the part of the consumer.
The level of alcohol in wines is highly contentious and there has been widespread criticism of wines that exceed 15 per cent alcohol, which is the legal limit for table wines in Europe. High alcohol levels can be reduced by adding low-alcohol juice during the winemaking process or by picking the grapes earlier. Most Australian table wines are between 12-16 per cent alcohol, and the alcohol levels on a label can legally vary by up to 1.5 per cent.
This term applies to an alcoholic drink, usually a wine that is sometimes consumed with small snacks, or hors d'oeuvres, prior to a meal and is designed to heighten the appetite. Sparkling wines or fresh, lower-alcohol wines are often enjoyed in this fashion. The word is French in origin.
A term used to describe wines in which the flavour of acid, or intense tannins, dominate the fruit flavours. Wines that are described as austere in their youth often have an excellent capacity for ageing.
Used to describe a wine in which there is perfect harmony between all the component parts; fruit flavours, sugar levels, alcohol levels, acidity, textures and oak. A wine that is said to be in perfect balance is usually ready for immediate consumption - but may also cellar well. The temperature at which a wine is served can often affect its balance.
A wooden barrel, originally used in Bordeaux, France, but now found all over the wine world. It has a capacity of 225 litres of juice. The alcoholic fermentation of red wines often takes place in a barrique, or other-sized oak barrel, and the longer a wine spends in barrique, the more oaky it will taste.
A French term used to describe the stirring of lees material (sediment consisting of yeast cells, grape pulp and pips) during the winemaking process. The process is designed to add body and flavour to a wine.
A scale of measurement used to describe the sugar concentration of a grape or grape juice. It is one of several scales that can be used to work out the potential alcohol levels of a finished wine.
A tasting at which those participating are not aware of the identity of the wines which they are analysing, or, if they are aware of the wines, they do not know the order in which they are being served. Wine show judges use this method to avoid bias or preconceptions tainting their opinions, as do most wine writers.
Used to describe how a wine feels in the mouth, its viscosity or depth of flavour. A watery wine might be described as light-bodied while a thicker, creamier, style of wine, say a fortified wine or sweet dessert wine, might be described as heavy-bodied.
The French term given to the various aromas, or scents, that can be found when smelling a wine before drinking. It is usually used to refer to more mature wines that have more complex aromas developed through age but can also refer to the 'flowery' scents in young wines.
Is used to the describe what happens between a cork being removed, or screwcap untwisted, and the wine being served. Allowing a wine to breath may allow unpleasant aromas from older wines to dissipate or allow wines to open up and become more approachable.
A winemaking term that is used to describe the many processes (including fining, filtration and refrigeration/cold stablisation) that make finished wines less cloudy and thus more visually appealing.
Virtually all wine grape varieties have multiple clones and mutations, some deliberate, that produce characteristics that are subtly different to the original. Some may produce different aromas and flavours or be more or less prone to disease. Winemakers often experiment with different clones to see which is the most suitable for their particular growing conditions.
Wines that are described as closed have not yet reached their full potential and often need further cellaring before they open up and reveal their optimum flavours and aromas.
A term used to describe the end result of TCA, a compound that spoils corks and can cause musty, wet-cardboard aromas and tastes. Wines that are 'corked' can vary from being just slightly off their best to filthy and oxidised. Since 2004, we have bottled every one of our wines under screw caps to ensure they reach our customers fresh and unspoilt by cork taint. Taylors were the first major Australian wine company to commit to 100% of their production under screwcap.
The traditional closure for wines around the world but now largely replaced by screwcaps in Australia, New Zealand and more enlightened countries. Corks vary wildly in quality; when good they are the best possible seal but they can also result in cork taint, mustiness and dank mushroom characters, and they also sometimes crumble. They can cause leakage and oxidation.
The process in which stems are separated from the grapes, often by using a de-stemming machine soon after the grapes are picked. De-stemming aids in reducing tannins and vegetal flavours in wine.
A process during which a wine is removed from its bottle to another container, usually a purpose-designed decanter, to separate the clear wine from any sediment that has developed in the bottle. It also adds oxygen so that a wine opens up and becomes more approachable.
An ultra-large bottle format that is usually only used for special releases. It holds 3 litres, or the contents of four regular bottles. Also sometimes called a jeroboam.
Can either be a positive or a negative. In a positive sense it can denote powerful characters of clean, rich and hearty soil, as in 'an earthy complexity', but it can also describe wines that are too dense and sometimes dirty.
The winemaking process of converting grape juice to alcohol through the addition of yeast, which causes a chemical reaction. It is a complex chemical process with many variables.
A plastic container used for fermenting small quantities of grape must.
This process clears a wine of impurities and bacteria, theoretically improving the clarity and taste, but some drinkers believe unfiltered wines taste more natural.
Milk, egg whites, gelatin and/or clay are among a wide range of 'fining agents' that can be used in tiny quantities in this winemaking process that clarifies the colour of a wine and reduces tannins and phenolic characters.
Tannins are found primarily in the stems, skins and seeds of grapes, which are removed from white grapes before fermentation. Tannins are highest in shiraz and cabernet sauvignon and lowest in pinot noir and are responsible for firmness and mouthfeel. Tannins fade as wine ages.
A pejorative term that generally means a wine is too high in alcohol and out of balance. 'Hot' wines often smell of white spirit and can cause a burning sensation when swallowed.
A large bottle format that has different meanings in different wine regions of France. A jeroboam holds the equivalent of six regular bottles of wine in Bordeaux but four in Champagne and Burgundy. In Australia, it generally holds three litres of wine (the equivalent of four bottles).
This refers to deposits of dead yeast and other matter that are left on the bottom of a wine tank or barrel after fermentation and ageing. Some winemakers stir this lees material to give added complexity to their wines.
Is a natural (or sometimes induced) winemaking process whereby tart-tasting malic acid, which is naturally present in grape must, is converted to softer-tasting, less aggressive lactic acid, resulting in a smoother, more creamy wine with a fuller, buttery mouthfeel and less obvious acid character.
Master of Wine
Is a qualification that is usually abbreviated to MW. Anybody who uses these letters has passed the rigorous Master of Wine examination that tests both practical and theoretical understanding of the wines of the world. There are fewer than 300 MWs worldwide and they include winemakers, importers, buyers, retailers, journalists, sommeliers and wine industry executives.
Is the name given to freshly-pressed grape juice that often also contains skins, seeds, and sometimes stems after the crushing and de-stemming process. Creating must is the first step in the winemaking process. During fermentation it is known as fermenting must.
The nose of a wine - its bouquet or aroma gives major clues to the style of wine you are about to drink.
Most red wines and some whites are fermented and/or matured in oak barrels of varying sizes. Oak adds flavour, texture and complexity to wines. Barriques hold 225 litres, hogsheads 300 litres and puncheons 500 litres. French oak is usually more subtle in its impact than American oak. Oak chips are sometimes used to add character to cheaper wines.
The great chemist Louis Pasteur wrote that "oxygen is the enemy of wine" but this is not strictly true. Oxygen actually plays a key role as most wines are harsh when they are removed from barrel and interaction with oxygen over time helps create a smooth taste. Wine in a glass will change in character as it is exposed to oxygen in the air.
Is described by James Halliday in his Wine Encyclopedia as "the negative logarithm of hydrogen ion activity or concentration in wine". That means it is a measure of the acidity in a wine. The lower the pH in a wine, the higher the total acidity with most wines having a pH rating between 2.9 and 3.9.
Is the name given to the traditional indentation, or dimple, at the bottom of a wine bottle. There is no common consensus on its purpose.
A key part of the winemaking process during which clear liquid is separated from sediment or residue in either a barrel or tank. This can occur two or three times during the preparation of a wine. The more effective the racking, the less need for fining and/or filtration.
The sweetness of a wine is decided by the level of residual sugar in the fermentation process. Residual sugar, or RS, is the measure of the amount of sugars that remain unfermented in a finished wine. Residual sugar is measured in grams of sugar per litre of wine and any wine with over 10 g/L would be considered sweet in Australia, although some of the world's great dessert wines can approach 150 g/L.
First developed for use with wine in the 1960s in France, screwcaps have become the closure of choice for the majority of premium wine producers in Australia, including Taylors. Riesling producers in the Clare Valley championed the use of screwcaps in 2000. Nine years later close to 90 per cent of all Australian wines are under screwcaps, which ensure the freshness and longevity of the wines. Screwcaps are sometimes known by the name of the major producer: Stelvin.
This is the French name given to a trained wine professional who specialises in all forms of wine service; from purchasing, storing and putting together wine lists to helping customers with wine selections and then serving wines, primarily in fine dining restaurants. A sommelier is generally more experienced than a wine waiter although there is no control over who uses the name in Australia.
Tannin is contributed by the skins, pips and stalks of the grape and also from oak barrels used in the maturation of some wine. This is more obvious in younger red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Tannins are a wine’s natural preservative – they play a big role in how the wine ages. Over time, the tannins diminish, making red wines more appealing and softer in the mouth.
Tartaric acid Is often described as the most important type of acid found in grapes and high levels generally mean high quality grapes.
A compound that spoils corks and can cause musty, wet-cardboard aromas and tastes in a wine. Never a good thing.
Is a descriptor used to talk about wines, usually chardonnays or sparkling wines, that display the aromas and flavours of toasted bread, imparted by maturation in oak barrels. The barrels wines are aged in are prepared with different levels of 'toast' depending on how much of the character a winemaker wants.
Often misused, this French word describes someone who works in a vineyard preparing grapes that will be used to make wines. The vigneron often grows his own grapes for making his own wines, but it is not an alternative word for winemaker. It translates literally as 'winegrower'.
Is a sour liquid processed using fermentation and can be made from a wide range of fruits, including the grape, as well as from ciders and beers. In wine terms the word is used as a derogatory term for a highly acidic, usually undrinkable, wine.
The weight of a wine on the palate refers to the feel you get in your mouth when drinking a wine. A cabernet sauvignon or shiraz would typically have more 'weight' than a young pinot noir. A wine having palate weight would generally have roundness and structure, while a thin, watery wine would be said to be lacking that attribute.
The sensory evaluation of wine which often involves assessing the appearance or colour, aroma and taste of a wine.
Woody tissue of a vine, inside the cambium layer, which transports water and nutrients from the roots towards the leaves.
Is a one-celled organism that is the key ingredient in converting grape juice into wine - and also in baking bread. A vast range of different yeasts are used by winemakers depending on what characters they wish their wine to have after fermentation.
Is added during the winemaking process to help stimulate and invigorate the wine yeast and ensure the fermentation is more active and complete.
Refers to the amount of grapes harvested per acre or hectare. Low yielding vines generally produce the highest-quality and most sought-after fruit fetching the highest prices. Alternatively, the higher the yield, the more productive the vines and the more grapes the grower has to sell.
The science of fermentation in wine.