glossary

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Letter V:

Varietal: Refers to a wine labeled with a single grape variety. Used predominantly in the United States and Australia, the term "varietal" denotes a wine named after and made from a single grape variety. For example, "The popular varietal is served in many restaurants" and "The herbal aromas of this Sauvignon Blanc are varietally correct." For varietal bottling, a minimum of 75 percent of that wine must be made from the designated grape variety. The term is frequently misused in reference to a grape variety itself.

Variety: A variety refers to the grape itself, whereas the term varietal refers to the wine made from that grape variety. For example, "Chardonnay is an early-ripening variety."

Vegetal: Some wines contain elements in their smell and taste which are reminiscent of plants and vegetables. In Cabernet Sauvignon a small amount of this vegetal quality is said to be part of varietal character. But when the vegetal element takes over, or when it shows up in wines in which it does not belong, those wines are considered flawed. Wine scientists have been able to identify the chemical constituent that makes wines smell like asparagus and bell peppers.

Velvety: Having rich flavor and a silky, sumptuous texture.

Vendange: French term for harvest.

Vendange Tardive: French term for late harvest.

Veraison: Occurs in late summer or early fall, when grapes start to lose their green color and take on mature hues, which can range from greenish yellow to red to almost black, depending on the variety.

Vigneron: French term for grapegrower or winemaker.

Vin de Pays: French quality classification meaning "country wine"; it is one level above vin de table.

Vin de Table: France's lowest level of wine classification, meaning "table wine." There are no limits on vineyard yields for wines labeled vin de table, and they do not require a vintage date.

Vine Spacing: The distance between vines in a vineyard; can vary from about three feet to eight feet. Generally, tighter spacing increases the competition between vines, producing fewer, more flavorful grapes.

Vine Training: The process of shaping the vine’s permanent wood. In cool regions, vines trained low absorb more heat reflected off the ground, which helps ripen the fruit. In warmer regions, vines are trained higher so they don’t absorb reflections.

Viniculture: The science or study of grape production for wine and the making of wine.

Vinification: Loosely synonymous with "winemaking," the act of creating wine from grapes, beginning with the crushing of grapes at harvest and ending when the fermented juice is barreled.

Vinify: The act of Vinification, or creating wine from grapes.

Vino da Tavola: Italy’s quality category equivalent to table wine; mass quantities of ordinary wines are produced at this level. Some of the country’s most expensive wines made outside the DOC/DOCG regulations are sold at this level, such as super Tuscans.

Vino de la Mesa: Spain’s quality category equivalent to table wine; mass quantities of ordinary wines are produced at this level. As in Italy, some of the country’s most expensive wines made outside the DO/DOCa regulations are sold at this level.

Vino de la Tierra: One of Spain’s quality categories; wines produced in a specific region; an average level of quality.

Vino Joven: One of Spain’s quality categories; green or young wine meant to be drunk as soon as it is bottled.

Vinous: Literally means "winelike" and is usually applied to dull wines lacking in distinct varietal character.

Vintage: Indicates the year in which the grapes were grown. For vintage dated wines made in the United States, 95 percent of a wine must come from grapes that were grown and picked in the stated calendar year. In the southern hemisphere where the grapes may grow in the year preceeding a February through March harvest, the vintage date refers to the year of harvest. Also refers to the time of year in which the harvest takes place.

Vinted By: Largely meaningless phrase that means the winery purchased the wine in bulk from another winery and bottled it.

Vintner: Translates as wine merchant, but generally indicates a wine producer/or winery proprietor.

Vintner-grown: Means wine from a winery-owned vineyard situated outside the winery's delimited viticultural area.

Viscous: Describes full-bodied, thick, rich wines.

Viticultural Area: Defines a legal grape-growing area distinguished by geographical features, climate, soil, elevation, history and other definable boundaries. Rules vary widely from region to region, and change often. Just for one example, in the United States, a wine must be 85 percent from grapes grown within the viticultural area to carry the appellation name.

Viticulture: The cultivation, science and study of grapes.

Vitis Aestivalis: A hardy grape native to North America, hybrids of Vitis aestivalis are sometimes used for winemaking, the most prominent of which is the Norton grape.

Vitis Labrusca: The species of grape native to the eastern U.S. that includes the Concord and Catawba varieties.

Vitis Riparia: A hardy grape native to North America, Vitis Riparia is one of the phylloxera-resistant rootstocks used with Vitis Vinifera grape varieties.

Vitis Vinifera: Classic European winemaking species of grape. Examples include Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and most of the famous varieties grown around the world.

Volatile (Volatile Acidity; VA) : Describes an excessive and undesirable amount of acidity, which gives a wine a slightly sour, vinegary edge. At very low levels (0.1 percent), it is largely undetectable; at higher levels it is considered a major defect.

Vosges Oak: Tight-grained French oak from the Vosges Mountains in Alsace used to make wine barrels.

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