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Wine Dictionary Terms: A Wine Glossary to Learn Wine Terminology: Wine Terms - B


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Balance
A subjective term used in wine evaluation. A wine in which the tastes of acid, sugar, tannin, alcohol and flavor are in harmony is said to be "in balance."

Banyuls
The Banyuls appellation is located in the Languedoc-Roussillon district close to the Mediterranean and is known for it's unusual fortified wines. Many of the vineyards are located on steep rocky terraces of the Pyrenees right at the ocean near the bish border. The wines must be at least 50% Grenache and can be either dry or sweet, but the best are sweet. These wines are consumed as either aperitifs or dessert wine.

Barbaresco
High quality red wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. Many Barbarescos are full bodied red wines and tend to age very well, if a little slowly.

Barbera
A wine grape best known for producing red wines in the Piedmont district of Italy. It is also grown in other countries and has been used as one of the better red varieties for table wines in California's central valley.

Barolo
One of the best red wines of Piedmont and, therefore, of Italy. Often reminiscent of Barbarescos, only with bigger body and flavor -- and even slower to age.

Barossa Valley
Perhaps the finest and best known region for table wines of Australia. "The Napa Valley of Australia," it is located north and west of Adelaide, in South Australia. This isn't to say that no other region of Australia produces comparable wines, because several wineries in several other regions do that. It's just that Barossa Valley has become the established leader for the country as of this moment.

Barrel fermenting
The act of fermenting white grape juice in barrels instead of using the more usual stainless steel tanks. The reason some winemakers use this process is to give the resulting wine rich creamy flavors, delicate oak characteristics, and also better aging capabilities. Red wines are never fermented in barrels because of the necessity to ferment red wines in contact with their grape skins. It is virtually impossible to move grape skins in and out of a barrel through the small bung hole.

Barsac
Wine region, known for sweet, dessert wines made from Botrytis-affected Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Barsac is one of the communes of Sauternes, in France. Just to make things more complicated, Sauternes is also "one of the communes of Sauternes." That's right, there are two uses for the name Sauternes, the general one, and the more specific one. The region of Sauternes has five communes and one of them is named Sauternes, also. Yah, I know, only in America could this thing happen. See Sauternes.

BATF
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - the U.S. federal agency which collects alcohol taxes and administers wine regulations.

Beaujolais
Very well known wine region in east-central France and part of the Burgundy area. Beaujolais is known for its red wines and more particularly for the style of those wines that use Gamay grapes instead of Pinot Noir like the rest of Burgundy. They tend to be light, fresh, fruity and ready to drink almost as soon as they have finished fermenting, without significant barrel age. In fact, most Beaujolais wines tend not to age well and are expected to be consumed before the age of one year. However, some of the single village designated wines can age well for a few years such as Moulin-a Vent, Morgon, and Chenas.

Beerenauslese
Literally, "berry selection" in German. Beerenauslese wines are made from grapes that are picked individually rather than as whole bunches. All grapes on a given cluster or "bunch" do not normally ripen at exactly the same rates. Berry selection allows the winemaker to make superb wine by insuring that every grape berry is picked at optimum ripeness. With this level of manual labor beerenauslese wines are not cheap. These are very sweet dessert style wines.

Bitter
Subjective tasting term. Bitterness usually refers to tannin in wine and is sensed by taste buds along the sides of the tongue near the extreme back of the tongue.

Black rot
Fungus disease of grape vines.

Blanc de blancs
A Champagne term referring to white wine made from white (usually Chardonnay) grapes.

Blanc de noirs
A Champagne term referring to white wine made from black (Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier) grapes.

Body
A tasting term referring to viscosity, thickness, consistency, or texture. A wine with body often has higher alcohol or sugar content than others.

Bordeaux
Seaport city in southwestern France which gives its name to wines of the surrounding area. The Bordeaux region includes more than twenty smaller, (but still major) wine regions. It is by far the most important wine region of France from an economic of view and, some would say, from a wine quality point of view as well. The best red wines from the area are produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, while the best white varieties are Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.

Botrytis cinerea
Fungus which grows on the skins of certain grapes as they ripen on the vine under specific weather conditions. Called "noble rot" because it can turn ordinary grapes into precursors of great dessert wines.

Bouquet
as opposed to Aroma, bouquet is more encompass ing. It is the odor which derives from the fermentation process, from the aging in wood and bottle process, and other changes independent of the grape variety used.

Breathing
Letting a bottle of wine stand for several minutes to several hours after pulling the cork but before serving it. It is believed that wines which exhibit off odors or tastes when first opened may be improved by air exposure prior to serving. Experienced tasters report that very old red wines are often improved by opening the bottle and decanting an hour or so prior to serving, but young wines rarely need air contact before drinking.

Brix
(pronounced bricks) The unit of measurment for soluble solids (sugar) in ripening grapes. A reading of one degree brix equals one percent sugar in the juice.

Brut
the term for the driest type of sparkling wine, normalIy, in a company's Iine. It connotes a very, very dry wine.

Bunch
the term to describe a full cluster of grape berries; also used to describe any non-Muscadine grape, most often employed by winegrowers in the American southeast.

Burgundy
One of the classically great wine regions of France, and of the world. It is by no means one of the largest regions, but has developed a reputation for producing the highest levels of wine quality over many centuries. The classic red burgundy is produced only from Pinot Noir, and the classic white only from the Chardonnay grape.