• 91 Points, Wine & Spirits Magazine

      Example of the point system used by industry experts to rate wines. Wine ratings do not necessarily indicate if you will enjoy the wine. Wines are scored based on production quality and how much the traits of a particular wine represent the style and region it’s from. If you plan to select wines based on ratings, educate yourself on the source. Your own experience with ratings will be your best guide for choosing future wines based on points.

      Read more about this topic in our blog post, “Rewards, or Not, of Wine Point Ratings.”

    Back to Top


    • Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)

      A federal agency created in 2003 whose responsibilities include alcohol permitting, labeling, and marketing requirements to protect consumers.

    • Alsatian-Style

      The terroirs of Alsace are located in the easternmost region of France (east of the Vosges Mountains) on slopes overlooking the Rhine River that face east to south-east. With low rainfall and westerly winds, the sunny, warm and dry vineyards favor the growing of white wine grapes which create the renowned region’s characteristic weighty, fruity, and often off-dry white wines.

    • Anthocyanin

      The pigment that gives red wine its color, which is found in the skin of the grape. The thicker the grape’s skin, the more color and opacity it delivers to the wine.

    • Aromatics

      The floral term for the scents you perceive in a wine.

    Back to Top


    • Beaujolais-style Wine

      Beaujolais is a subregion at the southern end of Burgundy that produces primarily a light red wine made with Gamay Noir grapes. The high-acid, low-tannin wine is made ranging in the quickly-consumed Nouveau style to the Cru style reminiscent of drinking red Burgundy.

    • Berry

      Winemaker and grower’s term for an individual grape.

    • Blending Trials

      Process used by vintners whereby they blend wines with different characteristics to produce a single, balanced wine with a strong beginning, middle and end on the palette.

    • Blind Test

      A format for wine tasting where the tasters have no information about the wines other than what they can determine with their senses.

    • Botrytis Cinerea

      A fungus that affects fruits, including grapes. Often referred to as “noble rot” when particularly wet conditions are followed by dry. Botrytis cinerea doesn’t destroy the grapes but rather produces higher sugar content that can lend a honey flavor to wines. In solely wet conditions, it can destroy the bunches.

    • Brix

      The unit of measure for the amount of sugar within a grape. It is measured with a refractometer and used to determine ripeness and harvest date.

    • Bud Break

      The point when new shoots emerge, or break out, from the buds on a grapevine. This takes place in early spring and begins the grapevines’ growth cycle for the year.

    Back to Top


    • Christmas Clusters

      Term used to refer to green, unripe clusters of grapes at harvest time. The phrase refers to the time the grapes would be ripe – Christmastime – were they left on the vine.

    • Clone

      Within a variety of a grape, such as Pinot Noir, there are different types which offer a grower distinct characteristics. Growers choose the clone of the grape based on the chosen wine style they are seeking such as a wine which will be either fruit-forward or tannic in flavor.

    • Clone 327

      One of two Cabernet Franc vine clones grown at Sheldrake Point, for our Dry Rosé. Grows on a vigorous vine, making a larger berry with very little tannins for fresher fruit flavors. Planted in 1999 and grown in 31 rows on four acres.

    • Cold Soak

      A selective winemaking technique for both red and white wines involving the maceration of the grapes at a cool temperature before the onset of the alcoholic fermentation. Cold-soaking extracts color and flavor, in an aqueous environment, without extracting tannin.

    • Court of Master Sommeliers

      International group established in 1977 to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants.

    • Cryo-concentrating

      In the case of Ice Apple Wine, freezing apple pulp and juice, to extract the water, in ice form, leaving behind a more concentrated juice.

    Back to Top


    • Enology

      The science and study of wine and winemaking. From the Greek “oinos” for wine.

    • Estate Bottled

      Meets three criteria: 1) The winery listed on the label owns or controls 100 percent of the grapes that went into the bottle; 2) The wine was crushed, fermented, finished, aged, and bottled all in the same place; and, 3) That place must be located in the same AVA stated on the label.

    • Estate Wines/Estate Winery

      By U.S. government standards, for a wine to be labeled “estate”, 100 percent of it must be made from grapes grown on land owned by the winery (or controlled by the winery).

    Back to Top


    • Foudre

      A large capacity wooden vat.

    Back to Top


    • Graft Union

      Where the non-varietal rootstock was grafted to the varietal grapevine.

    • Great French Wine Blight

      Occurring in the mid-19th century, this severe blight destroyed many of the vineyards in France – and the wine industry along with them – and severely damaged vineyards in other European countries. The blight was caused by an aphid commonly known as grape Phylloxera, to which American rootstock was found not to be susceptible. The aphid was brought over as an unintended guest when American grapevines were planted in England. It is because of Phylloxera that European vines are grafted to American rootstock, both in the U.S. and in most other countries.

    Back to Top


    • Inoculations

      The deliberate application of active yeast culture or malolactic bacteria to juice, must, or wine. Winemakers often inoculate their freshly pressed fruit juice with known strains of reliable yeasts to activate primary fermentation and achieve their desired results.

    Back to Top


    • Kellermeister (Cellar Master)

      The person who is responsible for all of the cellar (winery) technical operations – an operations manager. A U.S. winemaker could have the same responsibilities but usually not so broad and encompassing.

    Back to Top


    • Lees

      Lees are leftover yeast particles from autolysis which is the self-destruction of yeast cells by enzymes created from fermentation.

      Juice lees is settled from juice, mostly whites, during clarification and before fermentation.


    • Loire

      Referring to the Loire Valley wine region in France that stretches east from the Atlantic coast at Nantes to within 90 miles of Chinon, Bourgeuil and Samur-Champigny most especially.  Like the Finger Lakes region, Cabernet Franc is grown in abundance here and is renowned and respected by wine aficionados.

    Back to Top


    • Malolactic Fermentation

      A form of fermentation where tart-tasting malic acid is converted into the softer-tasting lactic acid by the addition of lactic acid bacteria. No alcohol is produced. Often associated with red wines and some Chardonnays.

    • Meritage

      (Rhymes with “heritage”.) Created by a group of vintners and registered with the U.S. Department of Trademarks and Patents, the term refers to a category of American blended wines made from Bordeaux grape varieties. Wines termed Meritage must meet a specific set of standards.

    • Methoxypyrazines

      A group of compounds, found in both grapes and wine, which are responsible for the very characteristic and undesirable ‘green pepper, herbaceous, or vegetative’ aromas. (MPs, or 2-methoxy- 3-alkylpyrazines). Begins at berry set, but the majority of accumulation occurs between 30 and 50 days post-bloom. Accumulation ceases approximately 50 days post-bloom.

    • Minerality

      A wine tasting flavor profile group of non-fruit, non-herb, non-spice notes. An aroma or taste, or both. Examples: crunchy sea salt, the smell of a sidewalk after it rains, aroma of chalkboard.

    • Mouth Feel

      A term used in describing the texture of a food or drink as it is perceived in the mouth; the way to describe chemical and physical interactions of food and drink with the mouth.

    • Mouthfeel

      The sensation of wine in the mouth. Most descriptors are related to texture, for example: silky, smooth, velvety, and rough. Mouthfeel is influenced by wine components, as acidity can be sharp, alcohol can be hot, tannins can be rough and sugar can be thick or cloying.

    Back to Top


    • Nose

      Aromas perceived in a particular wine; also called bouquet.

    • Nouveau

      A wine produced and sold in the same year in which it was harvested, usually within weeks of harvest. Often light bodied and paler in color due to the very short (or nonexistent) maceration period followed by a similarly short fermentation. Characteristically fruity with peak drinkability within the first year.

    • NYWCC

      Located in Canandaigua, the New York Wine & Culinary Center is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, designed to educate, engage, and excite people in a celebration of New York’s incredible beverage, agriculture, and culinary industries.

    Back to Top


    • Oaked

      Wine, red or white, that is aged in oak barrels, or on oak added as staves, chips, or sawdust. Oak contains a compound known as vanillin, and imparts flavor and color to wine; white wines turn darker yellow taking on flavors of vanilla, and red wines can become darker red and take on caramel flavors.

    • Old World Wine

      Wines from countries or regions where winemaking (with Vitis vinifera grapes) first originated thousands of years ago. Typically France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Germany, but also Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova.

    • Oxidation

      Chemical changes and deterioration in wine due to exposure to air. This will alter the flavor and smell of the wine.

    Back to Top


    • Racked

      Part of the juice and wine-handling process when the liquid is moved from one tank or barrel to another, allowing for the removal of sediment.

    • Rain Shadow

      A region having little rainfall because it is sheltered from prevailing rain-bearing winds by a range of hills.

    • Reserve Label

      A term given to specific wines to imply that they are of higher quality than usual, or wines that have been aged before being sold, or both. The use of the term is not regulated in the U.S., therefore, the definition can vary from winery to winery. At Sheldrake Point Winery, Reserve Riesling is hand-selected fruit from the best vineyard. For our reserve reds, it can mean either the best barrels or simply those wines we only produce in certain years when the quality is exceptional enough for a reserve.

    Back to Top


    • Scott Henry Trellising

      Allows for more fruit per row,with a split canopy that allows more sun penetration. Shoots are grown along movable wires so half the canopy can be grown in a downwards position, thus relying on two fruiting zones (upper and lower) creating essentially twice as much fruit per vine as Vertical Shoot Positioning. (see below)  Scott Henry absorbs more of the energy inherent in sites such as Sheldrake Point, so the energy is usefully directed. This allows growers to achieve balanced vines, necessary for the production of great wines.

    • Sediment

      The grainy residue sometimes found in wine bottles, most often with older wines and sometimes in unfined wines. Sediment is not an indication of poor quality but possibly more flavorful wine. It is recommended to remove the sediment by allowing it to settle completely in the bottle when you place the bottle upright. Then pour or decant it into another container so that no sediment transfers to the glass when serving.

    • Semi-Dry

      A wine is considered “dry” when all of the grape sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation, while a sweet wine still has some residual sugar. “Semi-dry” or “off dry” wines have a mild or softly perceptible sweetness.

    • Sorting

      Removing the diseased grapes from those of the quality you want to keep.  At Sheldrake, sorting is done first in the vineyard when pickers are told to leave affected fruit on the vine.  Then, grapes are moved slowly along a conveyor belt while we remove whatever grapes don’t represent the quality we want to use.

    • Stave

      Wood milled into planks to be used for barrel-making, or specially shaped sticks added to wine tanks.

    • sur lie

      “on lees

      lees are tan-colored dead yeast particles that collect at the bottom of a fermentation vessel.

    Back to Top


    • Tannins

      Compounds that give wine its mouth feel and combine with anthocyanins to play a role in the color of red wine.

    • Tartrates

      A salt or ester of tartaric acid created during fermentation when tartaric acid and potassium combine under very cold temperatures, producing a compound known as potassium bitartrate. These harmless, naturally occuring crystals can attach themselves to surfaces such as tanks, barrels, bottles, corks.

    • Terroir

      The complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.

    Back to Top


    • Unfined

      Some winemakers believe the common practice of fining (the removal of microscopic elements like protein particles which cloud wine, for example) takes too much flavor and body out of wines, so they use other methods (such as cold stabilization, filtering, racking) to remove the particles. Wines bottled without fining are sometimes labeled “unfined” to point out that the wine should be more flavorful. Unfined wines may throw off a small amount of sediment in the bottle.
    Back to Top


    • Vertical Tasting

      A comparative tasting of different vintages of the same type of wine from the same winery.

    • Vigneron

      Usually a producer who works directly and/or has oversight of vineyard (grape growing) and winemaking.

    • Vineyard Block

      Section of the vineyard designated to a specific varietal.

    • Vinifera

      (Merriam Webster): A common European grape (Vitis Vinifera) that is the chief source of Old World wine and table grape varieties. Examples include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Gamay and Cabernet Sauvignon. These are in contrast to non-vinifera varietals such as the native Concord or the many French-American hybrids –Vidal, Baco Noir and the like.

    • Volatize

      The combustion process that causes a chemical reaction in wood that results in the release of desired flavors when wine is aged on oak.

    • VSP Trellising

      Stands for Vertical Shoot Positioning trellis. Vines run parallel in either direction and all are trained upwards with wire.

    Back to Top


    • WSET

      The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is an internationally recognized body providing high quality education and training in wines and spirits.