glossary

You can browse our topics using the letters below, or search for a term.

Letter L:

Lactic Acid: A smooth (not sharp) acid created during malolactic fermentation. This acid is also found in milk.

Landwein: German quality classification. Landwein is a slightly higher quality level within the Tafelwein, the lowest designation.

Late Harvest: On labels, indicates that a wine was made from grapes picked later than normal and at a higher sugar (Brix) level than normal. Usually associated with botrytized and dessert-style wines.

Leafy: Describes the slightly herbaceous, vegetal quality reminiscent of leaves. Can be a positive or a negative, depending on whether it adds to or detracts from a wine's flavor.

Lean: Describes wines made in an austere style. Not necessarily a critical term, but when used as a term of criticism, it indicates a wine is lacking in fruit.

Leather: The aroma of old leather club chairs, most frequently associated with older red wines.

Lees: Sediment—dead yeast cells, grapeseeds, stems, pulp and tartrates (harmless tartaric acid crystals)—remaining in a barrel or tank during and after fermentation. Immediately following fermentation, wine should be racked off of the gross lees, the large particulate matter such as seeds, skins and stems, which are rich in spoilage organisms. The wine may be aged for an extended period on the fine lees, however, in what's called "sur lie" aging. Fine lees, the dead yeast cells leftover from fermentation, can enhance an aging wine with added richness, flavor and aroma complexity, and can also bind with excess tannins.

Legs: The viscous droplets that form and ease down the sides of the glass when the wine is swirled.

Length: The amount of time that taste, flavor or mouthfeel persist after swallowing a wine. The longer the finish, the better the wine quality. Common descriptors are short, long and lingering.

Lieu-Dit: Place name, or named vineyard, the smallest parcel that can be named in an appellation.

Limousin: A forest near Limoges, France, that produces oak for barrels. The loose-grained wood from this area readily imparts flavors to wine.

Lingering: Used to describe the persistence of flavor in a wine after tasting. When the aftertaste remains on the palate for several seconds, it is said to be lingering.

Lively: Describes wines that are fresh and fruity, bright and vivacious.

Luscious (or Lush): Describes wines that are soft, viscous, fleshy and round; more often associated with sweet white wines than rich red wines.

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