Common Wine Making Terms

These are some common wine making terms you should be familiar with when making homemade wine. There are hundreds of wine and winemaking terms, but this list is specifically for the homemade wine maker.

Acetic Acid - Occurs naturally in wine, but in excess gives a sharp, vinegary taste.

Acid - Naturally present in grapes and fruits and essential to wine, providing the refreshing "tang" in white wines and the "grip" in red wines. Wine acids are acetic, carbonic, citric, malic, tannic and tartaric.

Aftertaste - Flavor left in the mouth and nose after a wine has been swallowed or spit out; can be pleasant or unpleasant and is crucial in determining the likely development of young wines.

Air Lock - Plastic "S" shaped tube 1/3 filled with water that is used to release gases from wine during fermentation.

Alcoholic Content - The alcoholic strength of wine, usually expressed as a percentage of the total volume.

Alcoholic Fermentation - The biochemical process where yeasts, natural or added, convert the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide; normally stops when all the sugar has been converted or when the alcohol level reaches 15%.

Bentonite - Clay-like substance used in wine making to pull excessive amounts of proteins from the fruits and help your "must" clear faster.

Bung - Rubber stopper used in carboys that have a hole in the center to insert the airlock during fermentation.

Brix - A scale, used to measure sugar levels.

Carboy - Glass jugs 5 or 6 gallon, used in the second step of fermentation and clarification of wine making.

Chaptalization - Adding sugar during fermentation to raise a wine's alcoholic strength.

Decant - Carefully pouring a wine off its sediment into another clean container.

Fermenter - Wine making term for the containers used. Primary (plastic bucket) and secondary (glass or plastic carboy) used in stages of wine making.

Filtration - Method of pouring off sediments and impurities of wine before bottling.

Fining - Method of clarifying wine with an additive that helps settle any impurities in the wine to the bottom.

Hydrometer - Glass cylinder used in wine making to test your specific gravity. Read more...

Isinglass - Common fining agent; a form of gelatine obtained from fish.

Maderization - The browning of white wines caused by age or poor storage.

Metabisulfite - Either sodium or potassium metabisulfite, acts as an anti-oxidant, preserves the color of the wine, and encourages the development of esters that give a smooth flavor. Also used as a sterilization method for wine making equipment.

Must - Wine making term for the juice and crushed pulp of fruits created in a primary fermenter before fermentation is started.

Oxidation - The decay in a wine caused by over-exposure to air.

Pectic Enzyme - Aids in breaking down the cells of fruit releasing the juice and full flavor of the fruit. Also acts as a fining agent in clearing cloudy or hazy wine.

Punt - Indentation in the bottom of wine bottles designed to trap sediment.

Racking - Gradual clarification of wine by transferring from one container to another leaving wine sediments behind.

Sediment - Residue from wines, particularly reds; consists of tannins, pigments and tartrates.

Sparkelloid or Sorbistat K - Used to stabilize the wine so it will not start to ferment again.

Tannin - Harsh, bitter element in red wines from skins and stems; softens with aging and is essential in the long-term development of red wines.

Tartaric Acid - Most important acid in fruits; can be added in fermentation to adjust low acidity.

Yeast - Single celled organism used in wine making process causing fruits to ferment.

When using recipes we often need to convert measurements. Here is a convenient Conversion Chart for you to use. PDF format. I recommend you print it out.

Ready to get familiar with Wine Making Equipment? Now that we have a basic understanding of the language used when making wine, we will learn what the necessary equipment is.

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