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GENERAL WINE TERMS

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Term Definition
AC, AOC

Short for appellation controlee, part of the French system that classifies wines according to their geographical origin. Each AC has a set of rules defining the region of production, permitted grape varieties and yields, and sometimes alcohol and sugar levels. For some ACs, a tasting panel must approve wines before they are sold. The system provides a guarantee of authenticity for the consumer while protecting the producer from competition. See also 'Vin de Pays', 'VDQS', 'Vin de table'.

Acetaldehyde

Chemical substance formed by the partial oxidation of alcohol. Normally considered a fault if it can be detected on the nose, though it is an essential part of the aroma of deliberately oxidised styles such as Fino Sherry and other flor wines.

Acetic Acid

Chemical substance formed by the oxidation of alcohol. It is present in all wines in small quantities as part of the volatile acidity. In excess it is considered a fault. See also 'ethyl acetate'.

Acidity

One of the basic flavors which can be detected by the tongue and an essential component of all wine. Contributes to the fresh crispness of white wines. Over-high acidity can make a wine taste tart, while low acidity wines can be flabby.

Acids

Essential component of all wines. Several different acids are found in grapes and wine. Grapes are one of the few fruits to contain tartaric acid,the major wine acid and the most important source of acidity in wine. Smaller amounts of malic acid, citric acid and lactic acid can also be found, as can acetic acid. See also 'volatile acidity'.

Aftertaste

Sensation left in the mouth after wine is swallowed. A long aftertaste is a sign of a complex, high-quality wine. See also 'length'.

Ageing

Complex process of change which take place in wine over time. Simple wines require little ageing and can generally be enjoyed within a few months of the harvest. More complex wines will typically improve progressively over time, reaching a peak after several years or even decades, and then begin to decline.

Aggressive

Tasting term, usually indicating a wine with high or excessive acidity or tannin. Wines that are aggressive in their youth may improve with ageing.

Aglianico

Robust, quality southern Italian red grape variety found mainly on the volcanic slopes of Campania and Basilicata in Italy's south.

Alcohol (ethanol)

Compound formed by the fermentation of sugar. Responsible for the intoxicating effect of wine, but also essential for adequate body and mouth feel.

Alcohol Content

Amount of alcohol present in wine, normally expressed as percentage by volume (% vol. on the label). A wine at 12 % vol. therefore contains 120ml of alcohol per litre of wine. Most table wines fall between 9% and 15%. Fortified wines such as Port and Sherry are around 20%. Spirits are usually bottled at 40-43%.

Aldehydes

Class of chemical compounds, formed by the partial oxidation of alcohols and sometimes found in wine. The most usual is acetaldehyde.

Almacenista

Small-scale maturer of Sherry, who buys wine from a producer, ages it, then sells it on to a merchant for blending and bottling.

AOC, AC

Short for appellation controlee, part of the French system that classifies wines according to their geographical origin. Each AC has a set of rules defining the region of production, permitted grape varieties and yields, and sometimes alcohol and sugar levels. For some ACs, a tasting panel must approve wines before they are sold. The system provides a guarantee of authenticity for the consumer while protecting the producer from competition. See also 'Vin de Pays', 'VDQS', 'Vin de table'.

Appellation Controlee, AC

part of the French system that classifies wines according to their geographical origin. Each AC has a set of rules defining the region of production, permitted grape varieties and yields, and sometimes alcohol and sugar levels. For some ACs, a tasting panel must approve wines before they are sold. The system provides a guarantee of authenticity for the consumer while protecting the producer from competition. See also 'Vin de Pays', 'VDQS', 'Vin de table'.

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