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Vitner vocabulary: Terms to help you talk about wine

Time:2016-11-13 18:24wine - Red wine life health Click:

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Talking about wine can be difficult, especially if you don’t know the terms. Michael Moyer, director of Wine and Viticulture Technology at Lake Michigan College, gives The Tribune a few terms to keep in mind at your next tasting.

• AVA: abbreviation for American Viticultural Area, a federal geographical designation for a specific region with unique growing properties. Locally, we have the Lake Michigan Shore AVA and Fennville AVA.

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• balance: two juxtaposed traits of wine, such as sweet and sour. If a wine is balanced, the two traits create a pleasant drinking experience. An unbalanced wine — something that’s too tart, or too sweet — can be difficult to drink.

• color: the hue of wine, which comes from exposure to the skin of the grape. All grape juice is basically clear — the red of red wines or pink from rosés comes from exposure to the skins during the fermentation process. Gold or brown colors, most noticeable in white wines, come from age or barrels.

• dryness: measure of sugars in a wine. The drier a wine, the less sweet it is.

• enology: the science of wine.

• fermentation: the microbial process where yeast eat sugar to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.

• legs: the clinginess of wine to the side of a glass. Some people also refer to it as tears, Moyer says. It really doesn’t tell much about the wine, he explains, but is caused by the evaporation of alcohol from the wine.

• nose: what the wine smells like. Moyer adds that you can tell a lot about a wine from what you smell. For beginners, start with two simple questions: Does it smell good to you? What does it remind you of?

• sommelier: someone involved in the service of wine, often of the selection of wine in a restaurant. Though it’s not required, sommelier certification is more and more popular, becoming an industry standard. The Court of Master Sommeliers offers four levels of certification, Moyer adds.

• tannins: compound in wine that causes a sandpaper-y, drying effect in your mouth. Present more in red wines because of how they’re produced. Technically, the compounds bind with proteins in your saliva, causing the sensation.

• varietal, blended wines: varietals are wines made from one specific variety of grape, while blended wines are wines made from the juice of several grapes. In the “New World,” such as the United States and Australia, wines are often marketed by their grape variety. In the “Old World,” including most of Europe, wines are often marketed by their region, not their variety.

• viticulture: the study and growing of grape vines.

For more information about the Wine and Viticulture Technology department at Lake Michigan College, stop by an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. June 16 at The Mendel Center, 2755 E. Napier Ave., Benton Harbor.

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