March 24, 2016
The Ultimate Guide to Bizarre Wine Words
The wine world may seems impenetrable, and that is especially true when it comes to the jargon. Wine has its own language, and oenophiles sometimes use terms mere mortals have a hard time understanding. So what do words like “dumb”, “volatile”, “foxy” or “reduced” really mean? Find out below!
No, “dumb” does not refer to a wine that lacks intelligence (if that even made sense). Some wines (typically age-worthy wines from Bordeaux or the Rhône Valley for example) are known to go through what we call a “dumb phase”, as part of their development. This doesn’t mean the wine is dead, but instead that it’s simply sleeping, or has “shut down” in the bottle – in simple terms, it doesn’t smell much. Wines destined for long life close down for years before developing their gorgeous flavors. A good way to track the development of the wine and making sure it isn’t dumb, or “closed”, is to use your Coravin for a small taste. If you are curious to learn more, here is a very thorough explanation of the phenomenon by Charles Curtis, MW.
The term “foxy” refers to a distinctive note found in some wines – and not a very positive one; especially if that note is too overpowering. A foxy wine smells and tastes sort of musky, funky, wild. If you’ve ever drank a glass of Welch's Concord grape juice, then you have a god idea of what a foxy wine is. It’s generally associated with certain grapes, such as Niagara or Baco Noir.
A reduced wine is one that hasn’t been exposed enough to oxygen during the winemaking process, causing its sulfurous smell. Decanting is usually a good way to get rid of these unpleasant aromas – or not.
Read the rest of the article on The Wall Street Journal.