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Lactic Acid: A smooth (not sharp) acid created during malolactic fermentation. This acid is also found in milk.
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. "Sur lie" is a French term for aging a wine on its lees.
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.
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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