We recently hired a new team member who didn’t have experience working at a winery before. She enjoys wine but doesn’t know a lot of wine terminology. She was reading an article that we had written, and she was confused about what a crush pad was. Honestly, Google wasn’t very helpful either. She went into the cellar room looking for something that might be a crush pad. Finally, she asked one of our other team members.
A crush pad is an area where equipment is set up for processing, pressing, and destemming, so the grapes can become juice.
At our winery, that area looks like a cement driveway except that it has drainage on several sides to allow for easy clean up after processing. I think she thought she was looking for some rubberized grape stomping apparatus. Or maybe something that Lucy and Ethel would have used to crush grapes!
To help her, and others like her, we are putting together a glossary of wine terms. We will add to it periodically as new words need to be further explained. I can only imagine the list of wine and winemaking terms I will have to explain to her at harvest!
If you have questions about wine terminology that you would like to learn more about, let us know! Please ask your question on Facebook or Instagram so we can share what we learn. #nefariouscellars #winelife
Wine terminology, for beginner’s and beyond.
AVA or American Viticultural Area is a designation that is awarded to an area that is known for its distinct climate, soil, or topography.
Brix is a measurement of the sugar in grapes and wine.
Cap is the layer of grape skins, stems, and seeds that float to the top of the juice during fermentation. During primary fermentation, the cap needs to be punched down to keep the juice in contact with the skins.
Crush refers to both the “crushing” of the grapes to release their juice and the harvest season in winemaking.
Enology or Oenology is the science of making wine
Estate bottled in the U.S. means that 100% of the grapes grown for that wine came from vineyards owned or controlled by the winery within the designated AVA. The wine must be produced, fermented, aged, and bottled at the winery.
Must is the pulp and juice produced by crushing the grapes.
Racking is done to clarify the wine. The wine in barrels is siphoned off into a clean container leaving behind any particulates. Racking also aerates the wine during secondary fermentation.
Sediment is the harmless particulate that can happen in a bottle of wine as it ages.
Tannin is a compound that comes from the grape skins, seeds, stems, and also from the barrels. Tannin is beneficial for providing structure, complexity, and aging potential to red wine. It can have a similar feeling in your mouth to black tea.
Terroir is the French word for the environment and overall climate of an area. Soil, slope, climate, orientation of the sun, elevation, bodies of water, wind directionality can all be encompassed in the makeup of terroir.
Veraison is the change in color that indicates the grapes are ripening. You will see red varietals go from green to purple and whites change in translucency
Vintage is the year that the grapes were harvested.
Viticulture is the study of growing grapes.
If you want to learn even more, check out our masterclass Wired for Wine. In this class, you will learn everything that you need to know to become an expert wine taster. Cheers!