glossary

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Letter C:

Canopy: The green foliage of a grapevine is called the canopy. The canopy can be trimmed or thinned to manage the amount of air and sun reaching the fruit, improving fruit quality, increasing yield and controlling disease.

Cap : The thick layer of skins, stems and seeds that forms at the surface of fermenting red wine. Cap management, or breaking up the cap to increase contact between the skins and the liquid, is important since red wines extract color and flavor from the skins.

Capsule: The metal or plastic protective coating that surrounds the top of the cork and the bottle. Before pulling out the cork, at least the top portion should be removed to expose the cork and the lip of the bottle.

Carbonic Maceration: Most frequently associated with Beaujolais, this is a method of producing light-bodied, fresh and fruity red wines. Instead of crushing the grapes and releasing the juices to be fermented by yeasts, whole grape bunches are placed in a tank and the oxygen is displaced by carbon dioxide. Fermentation starts on an intracellular level inside the berry, producing some alcohol as well as fruity aromatics. In practice, the weight of the grapes on the top crushes the grapes on the bottom and yeasts ferment the juice; the wine is partly a product of carbonic maceration and partly of traditional yeast fermentation.

Case: A case of wine in the United States typically contains 9 liters or 12 standard 750ml bottles of wine. The size of wineries is most frequently measured in the number of cases produced annually.

Casein: A dairy-based protein used in the fining process. Casein is particularly effective at clarifying cloudy or off-colored white wines.

Cask Number: A term sometimes used to designate special wines, as in Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23, but often applied to ordinary wines to identify a separate lot or brand. Synonymous with bin number.

Cava: Spanish term for sparkling wine made using the traditional méthode Champenoise.

Cedary: Denotes the smell of cedar wood associated with mature Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends aged in French or American oak.

Cellared By: Means the wine was not produced at the winery where it was bottled. It usually indicates that the wine was purchased from another source.

Cépage: French term for grape variety.

Chaptalization: The addition of sugar to juice before and/or during fermentation, used to boost sugar levels in underripe grapes and alcohol levels in the subsequent wines. Common in northern European countries, where the cold climates may keep grapes from ripening, but forbidden in southern Europe (including southern France and all of Italy) and California.

Charmat: A less expensive, mass-production method for producing bulk quantities of sparkling wine. The second fermentation takes place in a pressurized tank, rather than in a bottle, decreasing lees contact and producing larger, coarser bubbles. The wine is filtered under pressure and bottled. Also known as the bulk process or tank method. Wines made this way cannot be labeled méthode Champenoise.

Chewy: Describes highly extracted, full-bodied and tannic wines that are so rich they seem as if they should be chewed, rather than simply swallowed.

Cigar Box: Aroma frequently associated with mature Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends, this descriptor refers to the cedary and tobacco leaf scents associated with cigar boxes.

Claret: The British term for red wines from Bordeaux. Originally the wines were quite pale or nearly clear in color, giving rise to the term clairet.

Clarity: Referring to the amount of suspended particulate matter in a wine, clarity is described in terms of the wine’s reflective quality; brilliant, clear, dull or hazy. A pronounced haziness may signify spoilage, while brilliant, clear or dull wines are generally sound.

Clean: Fresh on the palate and free of any off-taste.

Climat: French term for a vineyard site defined by its micro-climate and various other aspects of terroir. The term is most commonly associated with Burgundy.

Climate: The long-term weather pattern—including temperature, precipitation and hours of sunshine—in a specific region. In contrast, weather is associated with a specific event, such as a hailstorm.

Clonal Selection: Vineyard management term for a technique by which dead or under-performing vines are replaced with new vines grown from a single superior vine, or mother vine.

Clone: A group of vines originating from a single, individual plant propagated asexually from a single source. Clones are selected for the unique qualities of the grapes and wines they yield, such as flavor, productivity and adaptability to growing conditions.

Clos: A French term used to describe a walled vineyard, such as Clos du Vougeot in Burgundy.

Closed: Describes wines that are concentrated and have character, yet are shy in aroma or flavor. Closed wines may open up to reveal more flavors and aromas with aging or aeration.

Cloudiness: Lack of clarity to the eye. Fine for old wines with sediment, but it can be a warning signal of protein instability, yeast spoilage or re-fermentation in the bottle in younger wines. Cloudiness may also represent a deliberate choice by the winemaker not to filter a wine.

Cloying: Describes ultra-sweet or sugary wines that lack the balance provided by acid, alcohol, bitterness or intense flavor.

Coarse: Usually refers to texture, and in particular, excessive tannin or oak. Also used to describe harsh bubbles in sparkling wines.

Cold Stabilization: A clarification technique that can prevent the formation of crystals in wine bottles. Prior to bottling, the wine's temperature is lowered to approximately 30° F for two weeks, causing the tartrates and other solids to precipitate out of solution. The wine is then easily racked off (separated from) the solids.

Commune: French term for village.

Complexity: An element in all great wines and many very good ones; a combination of richness, depth, flavor intensity, focus, balance, harmony and finesse.

Cooked: Describes a dull, stewed flavor associated with wines adversely affected by excessive heat during shipping or storage.

Cooper: A wine barrel maker.

Cooperage: The facility where wine barrels are made.

Corkage Fee: The fee charged by restaurants when guests bring their own bottle of wine rather than ordering from the wine list.

Corked: Describes a wine having the off-putting, musty, moldy-newspaper flavor and aroma and dry aftertaste caused by a tainted cork.

Coulure: During flowering in the spring, wind and rain as well as chemical deficiencies can keep grapevine flowers from being properly fertilized, causing these flowers to drop off the cluster. This dropping of flowers is called coulure, or shatter. Since each flower is responsible for a grape, the cluster of grapes that eventually forms is loose and missing grapes. If the improperly fertilized flower stays attached, it produces a puny, seedless grape called a "shot" grape. Although the yield is reduced, there is a corresponding benefit—loose clusters that allow for increased air circulation are less susceptible to rot in humid conditions.

Crianza: One of Spain’s quality classifications, it requires that reds are aged for two years, with at least a year in wood, and whites a total of six months.

Crisp: Describes a wine with moderately high acidity; refreshing and bright with a clean finish.

Cru : Meaning "growth" or "vineyard" in French, this term is often used in quality classifications. In Bordeaux, the highest quality wines are called Premiers Crus and in Burgundy, Grands Crus.

Crush: Harvest season when the grapes are picked and crushed.

Cuvée: A blend or special lot of wine.

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