glossary

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Letter D:

Decanting : A technique that removes sediment from wine before drinking. After allowing the sediment to settle by standing the bottle upright for the day, the wine is poured slowly and carefully into another container, leaving the sediment in the original bottle.

Degree Days: A method of classifying the climate based on the number of days the temperature is within a range that vines can grow. In California, climates are rated from coolest (Region I) to the warmest (Region V). This classification can help winemakers determine where to plant which variety.

Délestage: French term for racking and returning a wine back to the tank. Wine is pumped out of the fermenting tank and back over the cap to facilitate extraction of color and flavor.

Delicate: Used to describe light- to medium-weight wines with good flavors. A desirable quality in wines such as Pinot Noir or Riesling.

Demi-Muid: A French term for 600-liter capacity oak barrels, typically used in the Rhône Valley.

Demi-Sec: A term describing sweetness in Champagne. It can be misleading; although demi-sec literally means "half-dry," demi-sec sparkling wines are usually slightly sweet to medium-sweet. The scale, from driest to sweetest, is: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra-Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux.

Denominatión de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca.): Spain’s highest quality classification, created in the early 1990s.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (D.O.C.) : The Italian system for defining wine regions and wine names. In addition, the D.O.C.G. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata Garantita) covers regions willing to submit their wines to tougher requirements, including tasting approval.

Dense: Describes a wine that has concentrated aromas on the nose and palate. A good sign in young wines.

Depth: Describes the complexity and concentration of flavors in a wine, as in a wine with excellent or uncommon depth. Opposite of shallow.

Destemming: The process of removing the grape berries from the stems once the grapes have been harvested and brought into the winery. The goal is to minimize the amount of astringent tannins that stems can add to wine.

Desuckering: The removal of young, non-fruit-bearing shoots from a vine.

Deutscher Tafelwein: A wine classification within Germany’s lowest level of wines, Tafelwein; indicates that the grapes were grown in Germany.

Devatting: Also known as délestage, the oxidative winemaking process in which, after the cap of grape musts, skins, seeds and stems forms on the top of a vat of fermenting wine, the wine is drained through a valve at the base of the tank into another vat and reserved while the remaining solids are allowed to drain for a few hours. The reserved wine is then pumped back into the original tank over the top of the drained skins, seeds and stems. Like punch downs and pump overs, the purpose of devatting is to increase the extraction of color, flavor, tannins and aromas from the solids, as well as aerate the fermenting wine.

Dirty: Covers any and all foul, rank, off-putting smells that can occur in a wine, including those caused by bad barrels or corks. A sign of poor winemaking.

Disgorgement (or dégorgement): When making sparkling wine, this technique is used to remove frozen sediment remaining in the bottle after the second fermentation. Sediment settles in the bottle neck and the neck is then dipped into a brine solution and frozen. Working quickly, the bottle is turned upright and the crown cork removed. The plug of frozen sediment is ejected by the pressure of the carbon dioxide.

Disjointed: Describes wine with components that are not well-knit, harmonious or balanced. The timing of the components may be off; upon tasting, a disjointed wine might first reveal big fruit, followed by a blast of screeching acidity and finishing off with a dose of tannins.

Diurnal Temperature Difference: The difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, which can affect the speed of ripening and grape quality. Shifts can be considerable; parts of Napa Valley regularly experience a 40-degree difference.

Dolce: Italian term for "sweet."

Dosage: In bottle-fermented sparkling wines, a small amount of wine (usually sweet) that is added back to the bottle once the yeast sediment that collects in the neck of the bottle is removed.

Doux: Designates a sweet Champagne or sparkling wine. Doux is the sweetest level of Champagne. The scale, from driest to sweetest is: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra-Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux.

Drip Irrigation: An irrigation process associated with grapegrowing. Hoses with individual spouts for each vine deliver precise amounts of water, drop by drop. This saves water and allows grapegrowers to carefully control the water vines receive in dry areas.

Dry: Having no perceptible taste of sugar. Most wine tasters begin to perceive sugar at levels of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent.

Drying Out: Losing fruit (or sweetness in sweet wines) to the extent that acid, alcohol or tannin dominate the taste. At this stage the wine will not improve.

Dumb: Describes a phase young wines undergo when their flavors and aromas are undeveloped.

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