glossary

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Table Wine: Still wines containing 7 percent to 14 percent alcohol. The term is also a quality classification in many European Union countries, indicating the lowest level of quality: Vin du Table in France, Vino da Tavola in Italy and Tafelwein in Germany.

Tafelwein: German quality classification meaning "table wine," the lowest category recognized in the European Union, indicates only that the wine was bottled in Germany. When the grapes are grown in Germany, the term Deutscher Tafelwein is used. Landwein is a slightly higher quality level within the Tafelwein designation.

Tank Method: Also known as charmat, a less expensive method for making sparkling wine. The tank method is used to produce bulk quantities of inexpensive sparkling wines. 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. Wines made this way cannot be labeled méthode Champenoise.

Tanky: Describes dull, dank qualities that show up in wines aged too long in tanks.

Tannic: Used to describe a wine high in tannins or with a rough mouthfeel.

Tannins: The mouth-puckering substance--found mostly in red wines--that is derived primarily from grape skins, seeds and stems, but also from oak barrels. Tannin acts as a natural preservative that helps wine age and develop.

Tart: Sharp-tasting because of acidity. Occasionally used as a synonym for acidic.

Tartaric Acid: The principal acid in grapes and wine; contributes to taste and stabilizes color. Unlike malic acid, tartaric acid does not decline as grapes ripen. Tartaric acid can precipitate out of solution in bottled wine to form harmless tartrate crystals resembling shards of glass.

Tartrates: Harmless crystals resembling shards of glass that may form during fermentation or bottle aging (often on the cork) as tartaric acid naturally present in wine precipitates out of solution. Components of tartaric acid, including potassium bitartrate and cream of tartar, they are less soluble in alcoholic solutions than in grape juice and solidify at cooler temperatures (such as those found in a refrigerator); can be avoided in finished wines through cold stabilization. Decanting and careful pouring can prevent transferring the crystals from the bottle into the glass.

Tastevin: A shallow saucer still used by some sommeliers and wine merchants to taste wine. Originally used by winemakers and wine merchants in dimly-lit cellars, the shiny, dimpled surfaces were helpful in evaluating appearance since they reflect the small amount of light.

TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole): A chemical compound that can give wine a musty, dirty, bitter, chalky character often described as moldy newspapers or damp cardboard. TCA can be formed in many ways; most consumers associate it with "corky" bottles, because corks are particularly susceptible to contamination by the compound. One common catalyst is chlorine, a widespread cleaning agent, coming into contact with plant phenols (which are found in cork and wood) and mold.

Temperature of Fermentation: As yeasts convert grape sugars into alcohol, they also produce heat. Excessively high temperatures can kill the yeasts and make the wine’s fruit flavors seem stewed or dull, whereas cooler temperatures maintain the freshness of the fruit. Just the right amount of warmth can contribute a richer, rounder mouthfeel.

Terroir: A term describing the interaction of soil, climate, topography and grape variety in a specific site, imprinting the wine and making each wine from a specific site distinct. Derived from the French word for earth, "terre."

Thin: Lacking body and depth.

Tight: Describes a wine's structure, concentration and body, as in a "tightly wound" wine. Closed or compact are similar terms.

Tinny: Metallic tasting.

Tired: Describes wines that are limp, feeble or lackluster.

Toasted Barrels: As a barrel is being constructed, but before the heads at either end are added, the cooper (barrel maker) chars the inside edges of the staves. This final treatment imparts aromas of vanilla, spice and smoke to the wood and then the wine. Char levels include light, medium and heavy toast. Winemakers order barrels with their favorite levels of toast to influence their wine styles.

Toasty: Describes a flavor derived from the oak barrels in which wines are aged. Also, a character that sometimes develops in sparkling wines.

Torréfaction: Wines exhibiting torréfaction show a roasted aroma or flavor, not unlike roasted coffee beans. Torréfaction is literally the process by which coffee, cocoa and other beans are roasted.

Transfer Method: Technique for making sparkling wine in which, after the second fermentation in the bottle and a short period of sur lie aging (but before riddling), the wine is transferred—with sediment—to a pressurized tank. The wine is then filtered under pressure and bottled. With the enormous savings in labor and time, the wines are slightly less intense and less creamy than those produced using the more time-consuming and expensive méthode Champenoise.

Trellising: The process of tying up the annual green growth of vines on wires; a vine naturally wants to sprawl, but trellising organizes the new shoots, to expose more leaves and grape bunches to the sun and encourage air circulation to prevent rot.

Trie: French term for sorting and harvesting the best grapes. In Sauternes, Barsac and other regions where sweet dessert wines are made, pickers will often make multiple tries through the vineyard, harvesting only grapes that have been properly afflicted with the sugar-concentrating fungus Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot.

Trocken: German term for dry, describing a wine with little or no residual sugar.

Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): German classification based on the ripeness level and sugar content of the grapes. Trockenbeerenauslese means literally "dry berry selection." This very sweet dessert wine is made from individually selected shriveled grapes that have the highest sugar levels with flavors concentrated further by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot. Trockenbeerenauslesen rank among the greatest sweet wines in the world.

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