Published 9:38 am Saturday, June 15, 2013
Words can be both familiar and extremely confusing when taken from their usual context.
Ask any wine enthusiast about legs, fat or bricks and they may assume you are speaking “Vinonese.” Ok — I made that word up; but the language of wine does indeed include legs, fat and brix which have entirely different meanings from what you might assume.
Working with definitions from http://www.wineschool.com/vocabulary.html, try your basic knowledge of “Vinonese.”
If you are looking at legs are you:
A. Examining stems on wine glasses
B. Observing the way a sheet of wine falls inside the glass after swirling
When you declare your beverage as full bodied, are you:
A. Referring to the bowl on the stemware
B. Commenting on the amount of bubbles in your champagne
C. Referring to the weight on your palate when you take the first sip
You overhear a salesman telling a restaurant proprietor about the brix of a particular vintage. Is he:
A. Describing the special platform the grapes were crushed on
B. Describing the measure of grape solids in a juice sample
You venture into a wine retailer and the salesperson describes a wine you are viewing as fat. Do they mean it is:
A. A wine of higher than average alcohol
B. A wine known to contribute to obesity due to high caloric count
Answer to question 1:
If you are looking at legs as the word refers to wine, you are observing the way a sheet of wine falls inside the glass after swirling. Choice B is the correct choice.
Chicago Wine School’s Website says, “Wine’s body or viscosity can be determined, often, by the way rivulets (or sheets, or “tears”) of wine descend the inner glass after swirling. It has to deal with the surface tension and other technical stuff; but a look at the legs will give you tips on the wine’s nature: In a dry wine, slow falling legs indicate a full-bodied-wine; quick-falling indicate a light wine.”
Answer to question 2:
When you declare your beverage as full bodied, you are describing your impression of weight on your palate. Choice C is the correct choice. Most people refer to body as either light, medium, or full. Reds are commonly considered to be in the full body category.
Answer to question 3:
If you were to overhear a salesman telling a restaurant proprietor about the brix of a particular vintage. He would be describing the measurement of grape solids in a juice sample, usually at picking time. Choice B is the correct choice.
The great majority of these solids are sugars which are fermentable into alcohol. By measuring the brix of grape juice at picking, it is possible to estimate the final alcoholic content of the wine. So when a wine writer asks a winemaker “what was the brix at picking” he is not just trying to be cute.
Answer to question 4:
If you venture into a wine retailer and the salesperson describes a wine you are viewing as fat, they are telling you that the wine you are looking at is of higher than average alcohol and/or glycerin content. Choice B is the correct choice.