P

Paglierino
Italian word for straw-colored. A wine that presents a color reminiscent of straw.
Palate
Term used for the feel and taste of a wine in the mouth.
Palissage
French word for trellis.
Pampini
Italian word for vine leaves.
Passito
Italian wine made in a method similar to the French technique of passerillage where the grapes are partially dried on straw mats. The result is the concentrations of sugars and flavors (due to dehydration).
Pasteurization
A physical process capable of complementing the antimicrobial properties of sulphur dioxide. It consists on the destruction of germs by heat at a temperature of about 175F (80C) for a few seconds.
Peak
The period of time in which a wine is said to be at its best.
Pedicel
The stem by which the grape berries are attached to the cluster.
Peduncle
The stem that attaches the bunch of grape berries to the shoot. It can be ramified (the ramifications are called pedicels).
Perfumed
An aromatic wine that displays (mostly) a floral fragrance. Perfumed wines are made from aromatic grapes such as Gewürztraminer and Muscat.
Pergola
Italian vine training system. The vines are trained high trellises and are very common in the Trentino-Alto Adige (that is the root to the name “Pergola Trentina”).
Perlant
Wines with a minor amount of effervescence. “Spritzy” in English.
Persistenza
Italian word for persistency. A wine which flavors linger for a long in the mouth after the wine is swallowed (or spat) has “persistenza”.
Pesante
Italian word for heavy. A wine that has too much alcohol.
Pétillant
“Slightly sparkling” in French.
PH
An acronym for “potential hydrogen.” It indicates the level of acidity in a wine. The higher the pH number, the lower the acidity.
Phenolic compounds
A class of chemical compounds (tannins, pigments and flavonoids) that is found for the most part in grape skins, but also in grape seeds and oak barrels.
Phylloxera
A small insect that attacks the root of vines, gradually cutting off the flow of nutrients and water to the vine and ultimately ends up killing the plant. A pest that attacks vineyards worldwide.
Pièce
Burgundian barrel with a capacity of 228 litres.
Pieno
Italian word for full. Wines that give the impression of having weight in the mouth. High alcohol content (along with tannins and intense flavors) will cause this sensation.
Pierce’s disease
A pest that molests vineyards (California is seriously affected). It is spread by sharpshooters (various genera and species of large leafhoppers – the most serious of which is Homalodisca vitripennis – the “Glassy-winged sharpshooter”).
Pigeage
French winemaking term for treading grapes and mixing the skins and pips with the must that is being fermented.
Planting density
The number of plants (vines) per unit area (hectare, acre, etc).
Plonk
Poor quality wine.
Plummy
A tasting description for a wine with the juicy flavors of plums.
Poignetage
French term for physical shaking. The bottles of Champagne are vigorously shaken to mix the wine and the “liqueur d’expédition” (a mixture of wine and sugar).
Polyphenols
It is a natural compound present in red wines (also found in white wines, but generally in less significant quantities) that is linked to a number health benefits, such as anti-cancer, antiviral, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory.
Pomace
The skins, stalks, and seeds that remain after the fermentation process.
Port
Also known as Vinho do Porto. It is a fortified wine (with the addition of a Brandy) original of the Douro region (Portugal).
Portainnesto
Italian word for rootstock. The use of rootstocks is most commonly associated with Philloxera. The roots of Vitis labrusca (American) are resistant to this plague and were/are used to replace (by grafting) the Vitis vinifera (European) that were/are attacked by the small insect . However, since a vine doesn’t need to grow from its own roots, this practice is also used when a producer wants to replace the type of grape in his vineyard. Let’s say that chardonnay went out of fashion and that the producer wants to have Sauvignon Blanc planted instead. By using the existing rootstock, that vineyard will be productive again much earlier than if the producer had to start from scratch.
Potassium bitartrate
It is a byproduct of wine making; it is also known as cream of tartar. The sediment that can precipitate and adhere to the inside of a wine bottle producing something known as crust.
Potassium Metabisulfite
K2S2O5 – a useful source of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2). It is the most common additive in winemaking to prevent most wild microorganisms from growing. It also acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting both the color, and delicate flavors of wine.
Powdery mildew
Erysiphe necator. It is a fungal disease that affects the vine and is one of the easier diseases to spot, as its symptoms are quite distinctive. Infected plants will display white powder-like spots on the leaves and stems.
Premier Cru
French for “first growth.” It has two meanings: 1) The status that refers to the classification of wines of the Bordeaux region (their highest status, “Grand Cru” being the second). 2) When referring to the location of a specific vineyard, the best sites (crus) are named “Grand Cru”, while the second best sites are named “Premier Cru”. I know it sounds confusing… but it really is!
Press
A machine that extracts juice from grapes.
Press juice
The juice that is extracted from the grape berries by pressing.
Pressing
The process by which grape juice is extracted prior to fermentation.
Pricked
A very negative tasting description for a wine that has a high level of acetic acid. Smells and tastes like vinegar.
Primary aromas/flavors
Aromas and flavors that originate in the grapes themselves.
Profumo
Italian word for scent.
Pronto
Italian word for ready. A wine that is apt for immediate consumption and no further aging is required.
Pruney
A tasting term used to describe wines that are made from overripe grapes. Hence, the dominant flavor of very ripe prunes.
Pruning
Its purpose is to shape the plant by controlling or directing plant growth, to maintain the health of the plant, or to increase the yield or quality of the grapes. It is performed early in the year (Northern Hemisphere is the opposite for the Southern Hemisphere) when the plant is still dormant.
Prädikat
German term that expresses the natural sugar content of the grapes when they are harvested. According to this classification, a wine can be (from the lowest to the highest sugar content) Kabinnet, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese.
Puckery
Very tannic (astringent being a better choice of words) wines cause this tactile sensation in the mouth.
Pulp
The soft and moist part of the grape. It contains water, sugar, acids and some of the flavoring compounds that are found in the wine.
Pumping over
“Remontage” in French. The process by which the wine is pumped from underneath the cap of grape skins and then returned back over the cap. Its main purpose is to increase the extraction of color and phenolic compounds found in the skins and pips of the grapes that form the cap.
Punching down
The process of mixing the cap down into the juice during alcoholic fermentation. It is important not only to enhance extraction of tannin, but also to equalize temperatures of must and cap.
Pungent
Wines with strong aromas that resemble menthol and camphor are said to be pungent.
Punt
The indentation at the bottom of bottle of wine. It adds both stability and strength to the bottle.
PVPP
Poly-vinyl poly-pyrrolidone. It is as a manufactured polyamer (plastic) that interacts with phenolic compounds. In white wine, PVPP is useful for reducing brown color and pinking, as a preventative measure when such risk is forecast. It will also contribute to color stability in sensitive blush wines. In many cases it can also reduce certain off-flavors and bitterness. In red wines it is less used but it can reduce bitterness, and brighten the color. Addition of PVPP can be done at any stage of production, from must to pre-bottling.
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