B

Bacchus
A white wine grape that was created by viticulturalist Peter Morio. He crossed a Silvaner x Riesling cross with Müller-Thurgau. Also, the Roman name of the Greek wine god Dionysus.
Backward
A wine that is not ready to drink yet (despite its age). Often the cause is the excessive amount of unripe tannins.
Baked
A negative tasting term for wines that have either oxidized or that spent time in a high temperature environment. They taste as if they came from overripe grapes.
Balance
Great wines have to be balanced in order to be great. Balance is an impression of harmony between the components of a wine’s – acid, sugar, tannin and alcohol content.
Balthazar
Wine bottle with a capacity of 12 liters (or 16 bottles).
Ban de vendanges
An official decree for AOC wines in France . It establishes yearly the date on which the harvest may begin in each district.
Barnyard
A negative tasting descriptor for a dirty aroma that is present in the wine. In most cases the origin of the problem is related to Brettanomyces (Brett for short).
Barrel
A hollow cylindrical container, traditionally made of oak staves, used for fermenting and aging wine, also called cask.
Barrel aged
Wines placed into wooden (oak) barrels for maturation.
Barrel fermented
Wines (mostly whites – more commonly Chardonnay wines) that are fermented in small oak barrels.
Barrique
The French name for a 225 liter Bordeaux style barrel.
Battonage
French for the process of stirring the wine after fermentation to keep the solid particles in suspension.
Baumé
French system to measure the sugar concentration of the must (and the respective potential alcohol in the wine). 17 to 18 grams of sugar in a liter of water correspond to 1 degree Baumé.
Bead
Term used to describe the size and persistence of the bubbles in a glass of Champagne (or any other sparkling wine). The smaller and more persistent the bead, the finer the wine. The ones produced with the Methode Champenoise (second fermentation it the bottle) will show the best results, but the serving temperature affects its appearance (the colder the wine the less effervescent it will be).
Beefy
A tasting term used to describe wines that are full-bodied (high in alcohol content and dry extract).
Beerenauslese
“Selected harvest of berries” in German. Often called “BA” for short, are usually made from grapes affected by noble rot (botrytis). The minimum must weight requirements for Beerenauslese is (for German wine) 110 to 128 degrees Oechsle, depending on the grape variety and region.
Bentonite
A type of clay that is used as a fining agent. It has the ability of adsorbing relatively large amounts of protein molecules from aqueous solutions. It is therefore uniquely useful in the process of winemaking, where it is used to remove excessive amounts of protein from wines.
Berry
An individual grape.
Berry-like
Positive tasting term used to describe aromas and flavors that are suggestive of berries (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, etc) found in wines.
Beverino
Italian word for a wine that is easy to drink. Generally it applies to light-bodied wines.
Bianco
Italian word for white, as in vino bianco (white wine).
Bicchière
Italian word for “glass”.
Big
Term to portray the wines that are full-bodied and that are intensely flavored.
Biodynamic viticulture
It is based on the principles of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. However, Biodynamic refers to both the farming (the agricultural part – viticulture) and/or winemaking, which is how the grapes are handled after they are harvested and processed into wine. Moreover, a wine may have been made from Biodynamic grapes but processed using conventional winemaking.
Biodynamic wine
Wines produced by the principles of biodynamic agriculture, where the farm as a whole is seen as an organism, and therefore should be a closed self-nourishing system which the preparations nourish. Disease of organisms is not to be tackled in isolation but is a symptom of problems in the whole organism.
Bite
A wine with high level of acidity is said to have a “bite”.
Bitter
A negative tasting description of some tannic wines.
Black fruit
A tasting term for the aromas and flavors which are reminiscent of black cherries, blackberries, blueberries, etc..
Black leaf
A condition instigated by a potassium deficiency that causes the leaves on a vine to turn black as chlorophyll vanishes. It also prevents the vine from transmitting sugar to the grape with efficiency.
Black rot
A disease that affects vines caused by a fungus (Guignardia bidwellii). Also called grape rot.
Blanc
French word for white, as in vin blanc (white wine).
Blanc de Blancs
The name for Champagne made entirely from white grapes (Chardonnay).
Blanc de Noirs
The name for Champagne made 100% from black grapes (Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier).
Blanco
Spanish word for white. As in vino blanco (white wine).
Blend
The process of combining two or more grape varieties after they have gone through a separate fermentation.
Blind tasting
Tasting and evaluating wine with no prior knowledge of the specific wine being tasted.
Blowsy
A negative tasting description for wines that lack acidity and have excessive alcohol levels.
Blush
A wine made from a red grape that is submitted to a very short maceration process (where color and tannins are extracted). It may be pink, orange or salmon in color; more often known as rosé.
Bodega
Spanish for winery.
Body (or mouth-feel)
The sense of weight, richness and viscosity revealed by a wine to the tongue. A wine can be light, medium or full-bodied.
Bordeaux mixture
A treatment for the vineyard. It consists of copper sulphate, hydrated lime and water. The mixture is sprayed onto the vines to control infestations of fungi (mainly downy mildew). Organic and biodynamic producers use this treatment in their vineyards.
Botrytis Cinerea
A fungus that affects grapes. Under the “right conditions” (ripe grapes, misty mornings and warm and sunny days) it causes noble rot. These grapes are then used to produce many of the most wonderful dessert wines (such as Sauternes or Tokaj Aszú). If the proper conditions are not achieved, then it will promote gray (grey) mold and the affected grapes are lost.
Botte
A large cask (usually 50 hectoliters) used to age wine in Italian.
Bottle
A container with a neck that is narrower than the body and a “mouth”.
Bottle shock
Also known as bottle-sickness, a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines are shaken in travel. After several days the condition usually disappears.
Bottle variation
The degree to which bottled wine of the same style and vintage can vary.
Bottle-Aged wine
A bottle-age wine will display traits, such as the development of its bouquet and tertiary flavors, derived from the time it spent in the bottle.
Bottle-sickness
Also known as bottle shock, a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines are shaken in travel. After several days the condition usually disappears.
Bouquet
The complex aromas of an old wine. This term is normally not applied when referring to a wine that is still young.
Brambly
A tasting term to describe the aromas and flavors which are reminiscent of berries (especially raspberries and blackberries).
Brawny
A tasting descriptor for a muscular and full-bodied wine. Don’t expect elegance and finesse when a wine is described as “brawny”.
Breathe
Also known as aerate. A wine opens up after some time in contact with air and the harsh tannins of a young wine are softened.
Brettanomyces
Often colloquially referred to as “Brett”. At low levels the presence of this yeast may have a positive effect on wine (adding complexity and giving an “aged character” to red wines that have not being aged). Some wines even rely on Brettanomyces to give to their wines a distinguishing character. However, if the levels of the sensory compounds exceed the sensory threshold to a great extent, their perception is most of the time off-putting. The sensory threshold can differ between individuals, and the result is that some people find the compounds more attractive/unattractive than others.
Bricco
A Piedmontese term (Italy) for a vineyard located at the top of a hill.
Briery
A negative tasting description for wines that have some sort of “aggressive spiciness”. As it was seasoned with too much black pepper.
Bright
Describes a wine that has high clarity. Not cloudy or hazy.
Bright fruit
A positive tasting term for wines that possess fresh fruity aromas and flavors. A good acidity level is the main cause for this sensation.
Brilliant
A wine which appearance is completely clear.
Brix
A system for measuring the sugar concentration of the must (and the respective potential alcohol in the wine) used in the United States and Australia. 18º Brix corresponds to 75º Oechsle. It will yield a wine with approximately 10% alcohol.
Brooding
Deep and concentrated wines. Complex, intense red wines are occasionally called brooding.
Browning
It occurs with the aging of a wine and it is caused by a reaction between the different active molecules that are present in it with oxygen.
Brut
French term used to describe the dryness/sweetness level of Champagne that has between 0-15 grams of sugar.
Brut nature
Extra Brut. A Champagne (or sparkling wine) that ranges from totally dry (0 grams of sugar) to extremely dry (6 grams of sugar).
Bud Break
When the new shoots emerge from the buds on a vine. It happens normally in early spring.
Bulk process
Also known as the Charmat process for the production of sparkling wines. A method whereby the secondary fermentation of a wine occurs in large tanks, instead of in individual bottles as in the Méthode champenoise.
Bulk wine
A term used for wine that hasn’t been bottled.
Bung
A plug for closing a wine barrel/cask.
Bung hole
The opening in a barrel/cask from which the wine is either put in or removed.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
ATF – United States federal agency; more specifically a specialized law enforcement and regulatory organization within the United States Department of Justice. www.atf.gov.
Buttery
A tasting term used to describe a wine that has an aroma and/or flavor of butter. It is caused by the presence of diacetyl, which is formed during malolactic fermentation.
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