Wine Glossary B

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Backbone: this term is for noting down those wines which are full-bodied, well-structured and balanced by a certain pleasing level of acidity.

Backward: a term to illustrate young wine that is less developed compared to others of the same type and class from the same vintage.

Balance: A wine is said to be balanced when its elements are blending well together and not a single aspect stands out.

Balthazar: An outsized bottle that holds the comparable equivalent of 12-16 standard bottles of wine.

Barrel Fermented: signifies wine which has been fermented in smaller casks which are usually 55-gallon oak barrels instead of the usual larger tanks. Advocates suppose that barrel fermentation adds greater harmony between the oak and the wine, increases fullness and contributes to the complexity, texture and flavor in certain wine types. The downside is that it is more labor-intensive and more risks are involved. This is used primarily for white wines.

Bin Number: also known as the cask number.

Bite: An obvious level of acidity or tannin. If your wine should have an acid grip in the finish should be more like a spicy tang and is tolerable only in full-bodied wines.

Bitter: this is one of the four basic tastes of wines along with sour, salty and sweet. There are grapes-most notably Gewürztraminer and Muscat–often have a noticeable bitter edge to their flavors. One other source of bitterness is tannin or stems. If the bitter quality is dominant in the flavor of the wine or its aftertaste, then it is considered as a fault. However, in sweet wines, traces of bitterness may complement the flavors. When it comes to young red wines it can be a caution, as a bitter taste doesn’t always go away with age. Usually, an excellent, mature wine must not taste bitter on the palate.

Blanc De Blancs: it means "White of whites" which is white wine made from white grapes. One example is Champagne made of Chardonnay.

Blanc De Noirs: it means "white of blacks" because it is essentially white wine made from red or black grapes where the juice is taken from the grapes and fermented without contacting the skin. The wines will then come out with a pale pink hue. An example for this is Champagne made from Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.

Blunt: robust in flavor and often alcoholic, however lacking in aromatic concentration and development on the palate.

Body: The feeling of weight or fullness on the palate; this is normally the result of a combination of, sugar, alcohol and glycerin. As a general rule, wines are expressed as full-bodied, medium-bodied or medium-weight, or light-bodied.

Botrytis Cinerea: also called the "Noble Rot." It is a beneficial type of fungus that seems to attack grapes which are under certain climatic conditions. What happens is that the fungus causes the grapes to shrivel, which in effect, deeply concentrates the flavors, sugar and acid. Some of the most noted examples come from Sauternes (Château d’Yquem), Germany and Tokay.

Bottle Sickness: this is a momentary condition typified by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. This is often observed immediately after bottling or when fragile wines are shaken during travel. This is also called bottle shock. Resting the bottle can help cure it.

Bottled By: This is to signify that the wine inside the bottle could have been purchased ready-made and only bottled by the brand owner. Another thing is that it could have been made under contract by another winery. If the label reads "produced and bottled by" or "made and bottled by" it means the same winery produced the wine from start to finish.

Bouquet: pertains to the smell that a wine has after it has been bottled and aged. This is most appropriate for mature wines which have developed intricate flavors beyond your basic oak and young fruit aromas.

Brawny: the term to describe wines which are hard, strong, tannic and that have raw, woody flavors. This is the exact opposite of being elegant.

Briary: this is to describe young wines with an earthy character or something resembling wild berry.

Bright: means crisp, ripe, zesty, fresh young wines with vibrant and focused flavors.

Brilliant: the appearance of wines which are very clear and with absolutely no visible particulate matter that is suspended.

Brix: A standard of the sugar content of the grapes, must (juice of the grapes) and wine. This is used for indicating the degree of the grapes’ ripeness or sugar level during harvest time. Most of the table-wine grapes are harvested at between the range of 21 and 25 brix.

Browning: Describes a wine’s color, and is a sign that a wine is mature and may be faded. A bad sign in young red (or white) wines, but less significant in older wines. Wines 20 to 30 years old may have a brownish edge yet still be enjoyable.

Brut: A common term that is used to assign a relatively dry type Champagne or sparkling wine. It is often the driest wine made by the producer.

Burnt: the characteristic of wines that give off an overdone, misty, toasty or charred edge. It is also the term used to describe grapes which are overripe.  

Buttery: denotes wine which has the smell of melted butter or maybe even toasty oak. It is also a reference to texture, as in "a rich, buttery Chardonnay."