Most of these are new words or terms to me.
“Garrigue” is one of those perfect wine words — a concise term that encompasses a larger, and very beautiful, idea. The word refers to the unique mix of vegetation that grows throughout parts of southern France, near the Mediterranean Sea: fragrant, shrubby plants including lavender, thyme, rosemary, white flowers and juniper. It’s thought that the oils from the native flora make their way onto grapes in nearby vineyards, imbuing the resulting wines with the intoxicating flavors and aromas that recall those plants.
Awkward Wine experts will describe a wine as awkward when it doesn’t have a good structure or its components (body, acidity, etc.) aren’t balanced. Maybe they are looking for a euphemism for cheap?
Surprisingly, a “barnyard” aroma is considered a good thing – by many wine aficionados, at least. It encapsulates a few scents, including leather, hay, bacon, and – yes – manure. First of all, don’t panic. There’s no poop in the wine. The odor comes from Brettanomyces – a wild yeast that is sometimes found on grape skins or in oak barrels that can make its way into wine. Some people – particularly those who grew up on a farm or have positive associations with horse stables – actually enjoy this flavor note.
Toasty? No, a toasty wine was not warmed in the oven. Toasty doesn’t even mean that a wine tastes like toast. It generally means a wine as a note of burnt caramel, which comes from oak aging. I would like this!
Barrique — a 225-litre oak barrel used originally for storing and aging wines, originating in Bordeaux. Any relation to Baroque?
Malolactic fermentation — a secondary fermentation in which the tartness of malic acid in wine is changed into a smooth, lactic sensation. Wines described as “buttery” or “creamy” have gone through “malo”.
Negociant — French word describing a wholesale merchant, blender, or shipper of wine. A French wine merchant who buys grapes and vinifies them, or buys wines and combines them, bottles the result under his own label and ships them. Particularly found in Burgundy. Two well-known examples are Joseph Drouhin and Louis Jadot.
Ullage— the empty space left in bottles and barrels as a wine evaporates. I once knew a man named Ullage.
Long before plastic surgeons began practicing lifts of a very different sort, drinkers who encountered wines that were particularly lively, that had a bit of a bounce in the glass, often referred to them as lifted. The lift comes from a generous amount of acidity. The same wine could also be called juicy or bright. But those more commonplace words somehow seem less descriptive, since lifted is what many wine drinkers themselves feel when captivating aromas billow out of a glass. Does this apply to plastic surgery??
American Oak Increasingly popular as an alternative to French oak for making barrels in which to age wine as quality improves and vintners learn how to treat the wood to meet their needs. Marked by strong vanilla, dill and cedar notes, it is used primarily for aging Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel, for which it is the preferred oak. It’s less desirable, although used occasionally, for Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Many California and Australia wineries use American oak, yet claim to use French oak because of its more prestigious image. American oak barrels sell in the $250 range, compared to more than $500 for the French ones.
MERITAGE: An invented term, used by California wineries, for Bordeaux-style red and white blended wines. Combines “merit” with “heritage.” The term arose out of the need to name wines that didn’t meet minimal labeling requirements for varietals (i.e., 75 percent of the named grape variety). For reds, the grapes allowed are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec; for whites, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Joseph Phelps Insignia and is an example of a wine whose blends vary each year, with no one grape dominating.
TCA stands for 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, a compound that forms when phenols interact with chlorine and mold. In addition to grapes, barrels, wooden pallets, wood beams and cardboard cases are all sources of phenols. TCA most frequently occurs in wines bottled with natural corks, which are sanitized with a solution made from chlorine. When the wine comes in contact with the cork, TCA develops, causing musty aromas and flavors in wines. That is why wines with these off-aromas are often described as “corked.”
Although TCA taint poses no health concerns for wine drinkers, even in infinitesimal amounts, it can ruin a wine. At higher levels, it makes a wine smell moldy or musty, like cardboard, damp cement or wet newspapers. Most who encounter high levels of TCA, realize it is the cause of the befouled wine. At lower levels, TCA taint only strips a wine of its flavor, making it taste dull or muted. This experience can leave the drinker with the conclusion that the wine is simply bad. At even the low-ball estimates by the cork industry of 1-2% effected bottles, TCA-taint is a major concern for the wine industry, and a major influence on the growing popularity of alternative closures.What are bor and ardo? Hungarian, Basque, Turkish, and Greek are the only European languages that have words for wine not derived from Latin. The Hungarian word for wine is bor; the Basque word is ardo.
Lots of terms (from Winespeed), not really necessary to enjoy the wines you like. My suggestion is to keep it simple, drink what you like, but please tell us about it.