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


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Cabernet Franc
Cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon, with many similarities, both in the vineyard and in the wine bottle or tank.

Cabernet Sauvignon
The king of red wine grapes, the classic variety of the Bordeaux region of France and of many other regions around the world.

Cane
The mature (tan or brown, but not green) shoot of a vine.

Carbonic maceration
a method of fermentation, invented by the Rhône-French in the 1930s involving an intra-cellular transformation within whole berries, as opposed to allowing the berries' juice to be expressed and fermented normally. Wines - usually red, but some characters have tried it with whites - fermented this way are referred to as "nouveau" or "primeur".

Cask
Any wooden container used for wine aging or storage. The term includes barrels, puncheons, butts, pipes, etc.

Central Coast
An appellation located along the coast of California south of San Francisco and north of Los Angeles. It refers primarily to Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, although small parts of Alameda, San Benito. Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties are legally included. Although well south of California's "North Coast," the Central Coast contains major vineyards with the coolest summertime climates in the whole United States!

Central Valley
Common name for the San Joaquin Valley, the largest wine growing region in California. The Central Valley produces 80 to 85% of California's annual wine gallonage.

Chablis
Wine region in central France located within the Burgundy region named for the village near its center. By appellation rules, the wines are produced 100% from Chardonnay. Most of the wines from here are labeled simply Chablis but some of the best come from the 40 Premier Cru and 7 Grand Cru vineyards. However, some of the regular Chablis can be superb. Recent warmer growing seasons have been producing some really compelling wines.

Champagne
Any sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. By treaty, other European countries may not use the name for their sparkling wines. See Sparkling Wines.

Chardonnay
Clearly the world's greatest white wine grape variety. Chardonnay produces many of the finest white wines, both still and sparkling, all around the globe.

Chenin Blanc
White grape variety widely planted in many regions of the world. Produces the distinctive and frequently highly rated Loire wines in France like the dry Savennieres, medium sweet wines from Vouvray and late harvest dessert wines from Coteaux du Layon including Quarts de Chaume. It is also planted in other parts of the world and serves in many areas as a blending grape like California, Australia, South Africa and other countries.

Chewy
a high-but-balanced acid wine with a greater than average Tannin content is considered chewy. Some Bordeaux reds, especially St. Estèphes, California coastal mountain Cabernets or Shiraz wines are so described.

Chianti
Medium to full bodied red table wine of Tuscany in Italy. Chiantis are blends, but the primary grape variety used is Sangiovese.

CIone
a vine so produced to better adapt to climatic or geologic conditions. You will often hear in discussion of the grape of the Romanée-Conti clone of Pinot noir as opposed to the "Volnay" clone.

Claret
Common name for the red wines of Bordeaux.

Clarity
In wine evaluation, a subjective term for the absence of cloudiness or sediment in a wine.

Cognac
The classic brandy region of France, located along the Atlantic coast north of Bordeaux. Also any of the brandies from this region.

Cold fermentation
a method of fermenting grape juice into wine at lowered (c. 55 degrees F.) temperatures in order to conserve as much fruit/varietal character as possible.

Colombard
Workhorse white wine grape of California's central valley. Produces very good wines of high acidity and good flavor. Colombard (often called French Colombard) blends well with Chenin Blanc and is a usual component of most California non varietal everyday white wines. Grown in many regions of France, including Cognac and Armagnac and used in many of the ordinary table wines of southern France.

CompIex
a complex wine is many-faceted; it contains not only acids, alcohols, tannins, etc., but more. Each sip brings another flavor, reveals another nuance.

Concord
The most common and most important red wine grape of the eastern U.S. Also an important jelly and fresh grape. The best example of pure Vitis labrucsca existing in commercial vineyards today.

Cooperage
Common term in general use to describe any container used for aging and storing wine. Cooperage includes barrels and tanks of all sizes.

Cork
Cylinder-shaped piece cut from the thick bark of a cork-oak tree and used as a stopper in wine bottles. Cork is especially well suited for this purpose because of its waxy composition and springiness.

Corked
Tasting term meaning that the wine in question has an off-smell or off-taste that is recognized as having come from a defective (moldy) cork in the bottle. Moldy corks look exactly the same as good corks, both at the time of bottling and when the bottle is opened several months or years later. Their defect is discovered only when the wine is smelled or tasted. This is the reason (the ONLY reason) that the wine steward pours a small sample for tasting by the diner to approve prior to pouring the wine for the other guests around the table. If the taster finds the wine to be "corked," the steward should also smell the glass of wine to confirm the corky defect -- then bring the diner a replacement bottle. Spoiled bottles of wine due to moldy corks are not uncommon, often about 1 percent of a given winery's bottling. The off taste is hard to describe, but easy to recognize once the taster knows what it is. I describe it as "sour-moldy." Some tasters are not sensitive to the off flavor and might not even notice it. Others risk throwing up by continuing to taste.

Cornas
Just to the South of the famous appellation of Hermitage lies the appellation of Cornas. These are both located in the Northern Rhone of France. The only grape used in red winemaking here is Syrah. This area is developing more of a cult following because of the intense wines being made here. They are often very dark in color and intense in flavor and tannin, many times requiring cellaring to fully enjoy them.

Cote
In France, the name given to a slope covered by vineyards. Used along with a place name to denote a large region, with many, similar slopes. For example, in Burgundy, the Cote d'Or includes Cote de Nuits in the north and Cote de Beaune, in the south. The Cote de Beaune extends from Cote de Nuits in the north a full fifteen miles to the southern end of Burgundy. Both Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune include many other, smaller "Cotes" as well.

Cream Sherry
A very sweet, Olorosso type Sherry wine. Still popular in the U.S. even though dessert wines in general aren't nearly as popular as twenty years ago. See Sherry.

Crisp
Tasting term to describe good acidity and pleasant taste without excessive sweetness.

Cru
French word for growth. It refers to a vineyard of especially high quality, such as a classified growth or "cru classe."

Cultured Yeast
A pure culture, containing no yeast other than known strains which have been selected for their abilities to conduct wine fermentations promptly, reliably and to completion, without producing off flavors in the wine. Most wild strains fail at least one of these criteria.

Cuvee
A given lot or batch on wine usually held in a single tank or large cask. Cuvee often refers to a specific blend of still wines which was blended purposely for later champagne making.