Wine Production

Glossary

B

BACTERIUM. Single-cell micro-organism, smaller than a yeast.

BALANCE. A wine is balanced when its elements are harmonious and no single element dominates. The hard components - acidity and tannins - balance the soft components - sweetness, fruit and alcohol.

BALLING. One of several hydrometer or saccharometer scales denoting the density of liquid (must, juice or new wine) in terms of specific gravity. Both the Balling and Brix scales are identical and are usually used to finely estimate sugar content.

BAR. Unit of pressure of 1 atmosphere, or 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi), or 760 mm of mercury.

BARREL-AGING. Denotes a wine that has spent a period of time in barrels before bottling. This affects wine in numerous ways - the flavors in newly blended wines knit together, tannins in red wines soften and white wines become richer and more full-bodied. Aging in new oak barrels can add aromas and flavors of vanilla, spice and smoke.

BARREL FERMENTED. Denotes wine that has been fermented in small casks instead of larger stainless-steel tanks. Advocates believe that barrel fermentation contributes greater harmony between the oak and the wine, increases body and adds complexity, texture and flavor to certain wine types. Its liabilities are that more labor is required and greater risks are involved. It is mainly used for whites.

BARRIQUE. A barrel used widely around the world. Capacity 225 liters.

BATONNAGE. French term for the stirring of the lees in barrels during winemaking to improve texture and enhance flavors.

BAUME. Scale, commonly used in France, for measuring the density, being mainly the concentration of grape sugars, indicating the potential alcohol by volume (abv).

BENTONITE. Bentonite is a type of very fine clay made of aluminium-silicate. Bentonite is principally used to remove proteins from white wine and juice, as it is a negatively charged clay colloid and reacts with positively charged proteins, precipitating them from the wine.

BIOCHEMICAL. Involving chemical reactions in living organisms.

BITTER. Describes one of the four basic tastes (along with sour, salty and sweet). Some grapes - notably Gewurztraminer and Muscat - often have a noticeable bitter edge to their flavors. Bitterness can also be imparted by the use of unrripe or green stems during the fermentation and aging processes. If the bitter quality dominates the wine's flavor or aftertaste, it is considered a fault. In sweet wines a trace of bitterness may complement the flavors. In young red wines it can be a warning signal, as bitterness doesn't always dissipate with age. Normally, a fine, mature wine should not be bitter on the palate.

BLENDING. Wines are blended for many reasons. To make a more harmonious or complex wine, wines with complementary attributes may be blended. For example, a wine with low acidity may be blended with a high-acid wine or a wine with earthy flavors may be blended with a fruity wine.

BODY. The impression of weight, fullness or thickness on the palate; usually the result of a combination of alcohol, sugar, dissolved solids (including sugars, phenolics, minerals and acids) and, to a lesser extent, glycerin. Common descriptors include light-bodied, medium-bodied and full-bodied. For example, skim milk could be considered "light-bodied," whole milk "medium-bodied" and cream "full-bodied." Although a fuller-bodied wine makes a bigger impression in the mouth, it is not necessarily higher in quality than a lighter-bodied wine.

BOTTLE AGING. A period of time spent in bottle prior to release and/or consumption; a small percentage of wines gain complexity and bouquet during extended bottle aging. The vast majority of wines produced are meant to be consumed shortly after release.

BOUQUET. The odors in wines resulting from processing and aging as distinguished from the raw material's odors, e.g., fermentation or bottle bouquets. (See also Aroma.)

BRIX. Scale for measuring density that is mainly the concentration of grape sugars. Commonly used in the USA. 1-degree Brix is 1 gram (g) of sucrose in 100 g of the solution as percentage by mass. Brix is nearly universal in the food industry, but Baume and Oechsle are convertible units used in other countries.

BUNG. The rubber, glass or plastic stopper that can be placed into a barrel's bung hole, similar to a cork placed in a wine bottle.

BUTT. American oak (Quercus alba) 550-liter cask used for maturation of wines in the solera system during the production of Sherry.