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Lebanese Wine Book
Michael Karam has lived in Lebanon since 1992. He is a
business journalist and wine writer, and contributes to The Oxford Companion to
Wine and the annual Wine Report. He is also is the author of
Wines of Lebanon (Saqi Books, August 2005), which recently won the Gourmand
World Award for Best Book on Wines Produced outside Europe.
Some Wine Terms
Acidity is what gives wine, and most other drinks, its tang.
Lemons have lots of it; potatoes very little.
American hybrid - variety bred from American and European vines.
Ampelography - science of identifying grape varieties by detailed
description of the appearance of the vine, especially its leaves
Alcohol is the potent mood-changer that differentiates wine from
grape juice. A wine's alcoholic strength is its concentration of alcohol.
Analysis, operation to which almost all modern wine subjected which
measures its vital statistics - alcoholic strength, total acidity,
residual sugar - and usually much more besides.
Anthocyans, phenolics which most strongly influence a red wine's
color, which is directly affected by its pH.
Barrel, the winemaker's most fashionable tool. barrel ageing or
barrel maturation -keeping a wine in cask between fermentation and
bottling so that it stabilizes naturally in the presence of small amounts
of air and also absorbs some flavor and possibly tannins from the wood,
depending on its age and size, and duration of barrel ageing.
Canopy - the above-ground parts of the vine, especially its leaves
Clarification, umbrella term for a host of processes designed to
ensure wine is crystal clear, including fining, filtration and
Elevage, French term with no direct English equivalent for the
wine-maturing processes involved between fermentation and bottling.
Fermentation, the process whereby sweet grape juice is transformed
into alcoholic wine, thanks to the action of yeast .
Filtration, controversial clarification process of pumping wine
through various different sorts of filter to remove suspended solids. It
may also strip out flavor if overdone.
Oxidation, potentially serious calamity that can strike grapes,
grape juice and wine if they are over-exposed to oxygen, making them go
brown (like a cut apple) and taste flat. Wines suffering from oxidation,
sometimes from a less-than-airtight stopper, are oxidized.
pressing, important winemaking operation involving literally
pressing the juice (white wines) or astringent press wine out of
Seed - part of the grape containing tannins. Care is usually taken
not to crush them.
Skin - very important part of the grape which contains most flavour
compounds, pigments, and tannins - all highly desirable, not to say
essential, for red wines but a more debatable ingredient in the white
Stabilization, umbrella term for all the winemaking operations
designed to stop wines developing a fault in bottle such as a haze, cloud
or fizz, no matter what the storage conditions. It is practised most
brutally on everyday wines.
Triage, French word for sorting, typically grapes for health and
quality in the vineyard or as they are brought in to the winery.
Vieilles vignes - French for 'old vines', which generally produce
more concentrated wine than young ones.
Vintage - can mean either the particular year in which the crop was
harvested or the process of harvesting itself
Yeast, micro-organisms of many types which can encourage all sorts
of chemical changes, including fermentation. Traditional wine producers
tend to rely on ambient, invisible yeasts whereas modernists prefer
specially cultured yeasts chosen for their suitability for a particular