Wine and champagne jargons to flaunt at your next party
Dry. Acidic. Fruity. These are probably the few terms we know and repeat when asked about our wine and bubblies whenever we're at a party or social event.
Of course, most of the times, we're taking stabs in the dark when prompted for a comment. But not everyone is a sommelier or a real connoisseur. It's one thing to love your wine, and the other to understand it. To size things up better, Pauline Tan from Bonjour Bubbles takes us through a myriad of jargons one could pick up when engaging in deep conversation over a couple of glasses. We imagine that happening alot this festive season...
We hear this alot but not many actually knows what it means. There are a few components that go into the terroir of a wine, which essentially means the climate, geography, land and winemaking traditions. Every place has its own unique terroir and it's sometimes hard to explain or differentiate for the layman, but once you start drinking more and more wines (which can happen), you'll begin to notice the nuances in the difference that for example, the climate or soil makes. As an example, warmer weather produces riper fruits which in turn produces wine with higher alcohol level such as South African Shiraz, and cooler weather produces wine with higher acidity and freshness such as Alsace Riesling or Chenin Blancs.
The word rolling off everyone's lips these days, organic and biodynamic wines, both refer to wines that are made in its most "natural" state, without any chemicals or additives that are commonly used such as sulphur. It also refers to farming practices, which avoids using all chemical pesticides and harmful substances — not only for the human body, but also for the crops in the long run.
Biodynamic wines take it a notch further by making use of astrology and "forces of nature" that are akin to the Asian fengshui. These could include harvesting on a full moon, or even popping the cork on a particular day that the winemaker deems to be good in the biodynamic sense. It seems to be a common belief that these wines cause less headaches or hangovers the next day as they contain less chemicals. Whether or not this is true, we appreciate that these wines taste delicious and are representative of the terroir they come from as the winemaker's aim is to let the fruit and the land do the talking.
No, this is not wine made from oranges. In fact, if you want to flirt with your date while sipping wine, try telling them that this is wine that is basically made with skin contact, also known as maceration. When the winemakers allow the grape skins to sit with the juice for a period of time, the colour from the skin will transfer onto the wine giving it an amber tone which is why it's called orange wine.
The process of "bringing up" the wine from its raw state (as a grape juice) to a wine that is ready for bottling. A skilled winemaker is also known as a good éleveur, and this process could take place in a steel tank or an oak barrel, with or without additives such as sulphur etc.
A word most commonly associated with champagne making and this means the amount of sugar added to finish the wine and give it balance at the end of ageing before it is bottled. Typical levels of sugar in Extra Brut is less than 6g/l, Brut is less than 12g/l while Brut's nature is zero sugar added leaving only the natural sugars from the fruit which hovers at around 2g/l.
Also known as fizz, or in layman terms, the bubbles that you see in the glass from a Champagne or sparkling wine. Perlage comes from the word pearls in Italian and is commonly used in Italy to describe the fizz in prosecco. When it comes to Champagne, perlage can be a telltale sign of a well-made wine. The bubbles are generally smaller, lighter, and this is an indicator of lesser impurities in the Vin Clair (the still wine before it is made into a Champagne).
Champagnes are required to go through two fermentation processes, the first after the grapes are harvested and the second where the wine age for a period of time with the lees (sediments) before they are finally "opened" and officially bottled as a Champagne. This process of the latter is called the disgorgement. The rule in Champagne is that the wine has to be aged for a minimum of 15 months before it can be labeled as a non-vintage (NV) or 36 months to be a vintage Champagne. This is a much longer time taken to make than any other sparkling wine in the world. Compared to the commercial houses, most growers age their wines much longer than the minimum, resulting in a much more complex and full bodied Champagne, which is to be enjoyed like a bottle of fine wine.