A measure of pH. High-acid wines have a low pH, and vice versa. The type of acid found in wine is usually tartaric, malic, or lactic. Higher acid wines will have more tartness in their flavor profile, providing freshness and lift
Preservatives or stabilizers that lengthen the shelf life of a wine. Additives can shape the texture and taste of a wine. Natural wines are free from the chemical preservatives that can cause headaches. Sulphur, commercial yeast, and sugars are often added to conventional wines to regulate a product. A short list of additives that are legally allowed to be present in conventional wine: dyes, correcting agents, fining agents, sugars, allergens,potassium metabisulfite, sulfites, sterilizing agents, antifoaming agents, copper sulfate, dimethyl decarbonate, polyvinylpolypyrrolidone…
Also referred to as indigenous or native yeast, these spores are specialized to their regions and produce a wild or natural fermentation. The yeast living on the skin of the wine is alone responsible for the fermentation process in natural wine. Sugar or grape concentrate can be added to the fermenting wine to feed the yeast, creating a higher alcohol concentrate.
Clay vats used for aging wine.
A named regional area that a type of wine is from. Some appellations regulate the type of grapes that can be grown within, and how they are grown and harvested.
Storing wine in wood barrels before bottling. Barrel aging imparts complexity and can add body and texture to the wine.
An ancient method of organic agriculture that is dictated by three basic tenets: compost mixture and preparation, planting and harvesting in accordance with phases of the moon, and biodiversity between plants and animals sharing the land (a biodynamic vineyard is home to more living species than just vines). This type of agriculture allows natural elements to present themselves in the grapes and vines. If a wine is biodynamic, the grapes will have been grown without pesticides or chemicals of any kind. Biodynamic planting and harvesting follows astronomy as a timeline, integrating ceremonial practices with organic farming principals.
The viscosity of a wine. If a wine is described as full-bodied, you can expect a deep, heavy, satisfying mouthfeel.
Brettanomyces is a type of yeast that imparts an earthy, organic flavour and scent, often described as a pleasant “barnyard” aroma.
A winemaking technique where the initial grape fermentation occurs in an environment that is low in oxygen and high in carbon dioxide. Whole clusters of grapes are added to a tank which is then pumped with carbon dioxide, which pushes out the oxygen. The fermentation process begins intracellularly, from the inside of the grape out. After about a week in the sealed tank, the juice is pulled, and the berries are pressed. This results in a light, fresh, young wine meant to be enjoyed immediately.
Added compounds to artificially refine a wine, or to act as a
preservative, including but not limited to: tannin powder, commercial yeasts, potassium sorbate, oak chips to mimic barrel aging. Natural wine is chemical free!
Cooler climates produce wines with notably higher acidity, whereas wines from hotter climates have a fuller body and higher alcohol content.
The opposite of natural wine. Conventional wines generally have larger releases and need to produce an identical product from bottle to bottle. Conventional wines have chemical stabilizers added, resulting in a uniform product that can sit on a shelf for years.
A blend of wine with more than one grape variety.
Removing the woody stems from the grape before crushing and fermenting. Stems add tannins and can sometimes impart a “green” flavour.
The amount of sweetness in a wine, ranging from bone dry (zero sugar) to dessert!
Dyes are used in conventional wines. Mega purple is a dye made from grape skins added to red wine to make the wine look darker.
The process in which alcohol is produced over time when yeast convert sugar to alcohol. Wine is produced in essence by combining grapes, yeast, and time. Wines can be fermented within a vessel made of clay, concrete, stainless steel, sandstone, or wood.
FINING AND FILTERING
The process of pulling undesirable qualities out of a wine. A variety of proteins are often used to bind to chemicals, then be strained away. An essential process in creating a quality finished product.
A style of crushable wine named after the sound of the juice being poured out of the bottle – try saying it out loud! Refreshing, jammy, fruity, young, and juicy with low alcohol and medium acidity, these are wines intended to share and chug slightly chilled. A “vin de soif” – thirst quencher.
In vineyards that aren’t easily accessed by machinery, such as vineyards at high altitudes, grapes are picked by hand, resulting in less bruising or damaging of the fruit. This is a process that requires lots of time and energy, so expect these wines to be limited quantities.
Wine that has not been filtered/fined with the use of dairy protein (casein) or fish bladders (isinglass).
Allowing grapes to grow wild without pesticides or chemicals; minimal mechanization; minimal human presence in the growing process. A general term to describe the process of natural wine – hands off and minimal.
The sediment you find in the bottom of a bottle of natural wine. Lees is comprised of dead yeast cells. Don’t be alarmed by the sediment! Sediment adds so much valuable character and depth to wine and is completely harmless.
A secondary fermentation which happens when bacteria convert malic acid into lactic acid. This process can happen by using oak barrels or by inoculating the wine with a specific yeast, and will reduce acidity, add flavour, and stabilize the wine before bottling.
Flavours of stone, flint, chalk, the ocean, an oyster, the smell of rain.
Wine with no added sugars, lower amounts of or no sulphites or commercial yeast added. Little to no intervention during the fermentation process. Simple and honest, naked and unrefined.
Areas of wine production outside of the traditional European and Middle Eastern countries. New World wines generally have a hotter climate, which produces riper grapes with higher alcohol and fuller body. North America, South America, New Zealand, Central Asia and Australia are all popular New World wine regions.
Classic Old World grape varietals such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Riesling, among others. These are the grapes that all hybrid varietals have descended from.
Young, fresh, vibrant wines that aren’t intended to be aged, made to be shared and consumed immediately after bottling. Glou glou, Beaujolais, the juice.
The herby, toasty, baked good flavours in a wine that has been aged in oak barrels. Generally imparts warmth and spice.
Refers primarily to European wines, but also includes the Mediterranean, North African and the Middle East. Old World vineyards grow grapes from vines that are centuries old.
White wine that spends time macerating and aging on the skins, stems, and seeds of the grape instead of being filtered. The skin contact generally adds body, tannins, and colour to white wine, resulting in a very pleasant mouthfeel and flavour. A concept similar to steeping tea.
An eco-friendly farming practice producing crops that have been grown without the use of chemicals, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers. Sustainable and practical farming.
Exposing wine to oxygen, resulting in a nutty, complex flavour and aroma, like in a fine sherry.
Stands for Pétillant Naturel, meaning “naturally sparkling”. Pét-nats are natural wine’s answer to champagne but with a lower alcohol content. Pét-nats can range in colour.
Chemical substances to deter insects from destroying crops. Pesticides are proven to be harmful to the environment and have a negative cellular impact on animal and human bodies.
Natural wine! Living, active, and exciting.
Solids, crystals, and general cloudiness that may appear in your natural wine. Generally composed of “lees” (dead yeast cells that add nuance, texture, and flavour), grape stems and skins, and crystals that form in the winemaking process. Sediment occurs naturally in wine and is nothing to fear!
The process of letting the juice from a grape mingle with the solids of the grape. Red wines are made in this fashion. Skin contact wines are also known as orange wines.
Sulfur dioxide, the reason you blame your headaches on wine. Sulfites can occur naturally during winemaking. Added sulfates are used as a preservative. Natural wine has little to zero sulfites added to them.
In agriculture, sustainability refers to ecologically-forward practices that strive for a less harmful impact on the surrounding environment, for short and long term. Sustainable farming looks like creating environments with biodiversity, avoiding pesticides and chemicals, and responsibly caring for the land for future generations.
Described as bitter, drying, and astringent, tannins come from the time a wine spends aging on its skins. They are important in adding colour to the wine, and act as a natural preservative.
The combination of materials in the ground and the surrounding environment that impart tasting notes in the finished product. Clay, sand, limestone, and volcanic ash are some types of soil which impact the taste of the wine. Terroir accounts for climate, elevation, earth, and is an expression of all elements of a vineyard.
Can be cloudy or hazy with sediment. Unfiltered wine is bottled without removing all (small) particles, so you can expect changes, like further fermentation and flavour development, to occur within the bottle.
More aroma than taste, volatile acidity is usually due to acetic acid (bringing a vinegar-like scent to a wine) or ethyl acetate (an astringent scent not unlike nail polish remover).
Wines that have been made without the use of animal products. Many wines use casein (a milk-derived dairy protein), gelatin, or isinglass (made from dried fish bladders) to fine (filter) the liquid. A wine labelled “vegan” has not made contact with any of these filters and has been filtered with a synthetic material.
The year that the grapes were grown and picked.
The microorganism responsible for converting the sugars in grape juice to alcohol during fermentation. Aging wine on the dead yeast cells (“sur lies”) adds body, nuance, character, and depth to a wine. Many natural wines are created by using spontaneous fermentation, meaning the natural yeast that exists on the grapes starts the fermentation process, with no commercial yeast added. Most conventional wines use commercial yeasts to impart specific flavours, manipulating the winemaking process.
Nothing added, and nothing taken away. The purest unadulterated fermented grape juice.