German wine glossary
Water is an essential natural drink and plays an important role in the making of spirits, either to reduce their alcoholic strength or as a specific component in certain spirits. For example, very pure water from the Highlands or Lowlands is absolutely necessary in the making of Scotch whisky, and all attempts to achieve similar quality in other regions have been in vain.
A wine that is diluted, and too low in alcohol.
A wine which is low in alcohol and intensity of taste, as opposed to a full wine.
Ploughing techniques enabling the removal of weeds are increasingly being replaced by chemical weedkillers.
A wine which is harmonious and supple: a balance due to ageing.
Welschriesling for a full list of grapes click HERE
(See also Italian Riesling above). Austrian name for the grape of ancient, but unknown, origins. May have Eurasian antecedents. Has no relationship to the German Riesling grape, which is called the Riesling Renano in Italy. Used for producing acidic dry and sweet white wines in Austria that have the label name "Riesling" which usually refers to this varietal, not the true German Johannisberg Riesling that is known by the name Rheinriesling. Widely grown in many countries of Eastern Europe.
(pronounced vine) "Wine" in German.
Weinkellerei - Wine cellar or winery.
German for vineyard.
(pronounced vyn-goot) A wine producing property in Germany.
Weisswein - White wine
(pronounced vyn-strass-uh) "Wine road" in Germany. A tourist route which connects many wineries in a given area. An excellent way to spend part of your vacation in any wine country.
Weissburgunder for a full list of grapes click HERE
(see Pinot Blanc above) Weissburgunder or Weisser Burgunder (Pinot Blanc) is a close relative of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Pinot Blanc is also called the Riesling of the pinot family. The grapes can only be distinguished when they start to colour.
Weissherbst - Rose of QbA standard or above produced from a single variety of black grape.
Irish or American spirit made from grain; indeed, these two countries opted for this spelling which is different from that of Scotch whisky.
Scottish or Canadian spirit made from grain. Scotland produces Scotch whisky, which can either be 'pure malt', 'single malt', 'blended', 'old', 'fine', etc... In France, imitation spirits may be marketed simply as 'whisky'.
A wine is white when it hasn't the least hint of red in its color, which may vary between ultra pale yellow and amber yellow, including all the intermediary shades: straw yellow, canary yellow, gold...
Any mixture of the thousands of possible airborne yeast strains which may happen to appear and start their own fermentation in your juice or must before you add your cultured yeast. Wild yeast can destroy the quality of a wine or can carry out the fermentation in a more-or-less normal fashion. In California, where the air is full of spoilage yeasts from many kinds of fruits, you never know which it will be. Only the most speculative of winemakers will trust the wild yeast with his own livelihood. In European wine regions, it's a different story. Using wild yeast is safer because those countries have been fermenting the same types of grape wine for hundreds, even thousands of years. The natural strains of wild yeast that occur in the air over there tend to be good, reliable wine yeasts that have survived over the years. See Cultured Yeast.
A variety of pear which is very juicy and granular, used to make one of the best fruit brandies in Alsace and in Lorraine.
Obtained exclusively from total (dry wines) or partial (sweet wines) alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes (either crushed or whole) or grape must.
Chemically speaking, wine is a hydro-alcoholic solution: around 85% water and 10 to 15% alcohol; the rest is composed of 20 to 30 grams per liter of soluble substances which make up the wine's dry extract, and some 100 milligrams of volatile substances per liter which account for the fragrance. This tiny fraction, made up of thousands of substances in infinitesimal quantities, is what make all the difference and gives a wine its complexity and its personality.
- Alcohol: the main component is ethyl alcohol or ethanol, accounting for 72 to 120 grams per liter. There is also glycerin (5 to 15 grams per liter) and lesser quantities of butylene glycol, inosytol, sorbitol, etc... Alcohol contributes to a wine's mellowness by imparting unctuousness and sweetness to it.
- Acids: tartaric, malic and citric acids come from the grapes. Lactic, acetic and succinic acids are produced during malolactic and alcoholic fermentation. These are the essential acids; there are others which do not play a significant role in the actual acidity of a wine.
- Sugar: glucose and fructose are the main components. They come from the grapes and remain in the wine up to 30 or 60 grams per liter (in the case of sweet wines). The sugar in dry wines has been transformed into alcohol; and generally less than 2 grams per liter remain.
- Phenolic substances: mostly tannins and anthocyanins which participate in a wine's astringency and color, its evolution, and its positive role regarding health (vitamin P and a anti-bacterial action). Except for tyrosol, a phenolic acid produced during alcoholic fermentation, other phenolic substances comes from various portions of the grape (skin, pips and stems), and can thus only be found in wines obtained after maceration (red or rosé). Anthocyanin accounts for 0.5 grams per liter in young red wine and decreases with age. Tannin is present from 1.5 to 5 grams per liter.
- Substances which account for a wine's bouquet represent some hundred milligrams per liter. At least 500 have been counted, and less than half have been identified. These volatile substances belong to several chemical types: superior alcohols (phenyl ethanol which smells of roses, tyrosol which recalls honey and beeswax, hexanol which smells of freshly cut grass...); esters (ethyl acetate which is responsible for a vinegary taste, isoamyl acetate which smells like banana or solvent...); fatty acids; etc...
- Polysaccharids, made up of several glucose molecules, sometimes hinder a wine's filtering: they precipitate and clog the filtering surfaces.
- Nitrogen by-products are amino acids and protein. The latter have a tendency to precipitate and make wines cloudy . This is why they are partly eliminated during fining or collage.
A device used to extract the juice from the grapes in the case of white wines, and to extract the vin de presse from the marc or pomace in the case of red wines.
A place above ground where all processes of vinification are completed, as well as storing of wines in cask.
One of the most accurate descriptive words in the science of wine, but one of the most misunderstood also. It means that quality in wines is not made in a winery but outside in the vineyard. The grower who merely "grows grapes" tries to maximumize his tonnages and get maximum dollars -- without caring what the eventual use for his crop might be. By contrast, the winegrower tends his crop according to which farming practices will make the best wine. He avoids overcropping, uneven fruit ripening or the use of spray chemicals which could interfere with later fermentation. He works diligently to harvest his fruit as near as possible to the optimum ripeness level for the type of wine intended. He studies the latest viticultural practices and what they may mean to the quality of wine. Most of all, he understands that a winemaker in a winery doesn't improve quality. Either quality is in the grapes or it isn't. The winemaker can only hope to avoid ruining the wine by preserving whatever quality is there. He cannot produce quality wine from poor grapes.
A trade organization of winery members headquartered in San Francisco for the purpose of advancing the business interests of its member wineries. Wine Institute keeps its members constantly informed and advised on the political, legal and social status of "anything important to the wine industry." Wine Institute has no sales, marketing or production function, though outside critics often accuse it of "not doing a good job of helping member wineries with marketing or promotion."
The person in charge of winemaking in a winery. In some wineries, he or she is also called "production manager." The winemaker may be in overall charge of the whole (small) company -- or only the fermentation, aging and bottling of a single wine in a large winery.
A place where wine is made. A winery may be made up of one or more buildings or no building at all; it can be a cave or simply an open air assortment of tanks, barrels or other containers.
Common name given to the collective group of retailers, wholesalers, restaurateurs, wine salesmen and wine producers which make up the "wine industry."
Vinegar which was made from wine -- as opposed to standard, kitchen-run vinegar which is usually made from apples, pineapples, pears or any other fruit which happened to be cheap and available at the time it was made.
A wine Grower.
Winzergenossenschaft - Winegrowers' co-operative.
Tannin which came from wood, as in a wine which was oak-aged.
Tasting term for a wine in which the effect of prolonged (perhaps too much) contact with wood is noticeable. In general, wood tastes exactly as it smells.
Würzer for a full list of grapes click HERE
(white grape) Created in 1932 by Georg Scheu it is a crossing between Gewürtstraminer and Müller Thurgau. Only 100 ha planted. When the grapes are fully ripened they can have an aroma similar to the Gewürtstraminer.