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


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Maceration
The act of soaking grape skins and other solids in their juice for certain time periods prior to fermentation of the juice. Often used for Chardonnay production in order to increase the extraction of Chardonnay flavor (which is otherwise concentrated in the skins rather than in the juice). This is also done with red wine to extract the red color (the longer maceration the more intense the color) and to extract tannins which help a wine age and give it structure.

Maconnais
Wine region in southern Burgundy, adjoining Beaujolais in north central France. The most famous white wine is Pouilly-Fuisse. Most of the reds are sold as Beaujolais since the regional borders seem to be more sharply delineated by color of the grape planted than by an arbitrary line drawn on the map. The region is named for the town, Macon, which is the wine center for lower Burgundy.

Magnum
Oversize bottle, with twice the capacity of a standard 750 ml. wine bottle. The word "magnum" is used for a 1.5 liter bottle of great wine. However, the words "one point five" are used for a bottle of ordinary wine. Do not confuse the two.

Malbec
One of the five major red wine grape varieties of Bordeaux. Produces excellent wines in Argentina but is little planted in California because of its history of sparse crops there. The sparse crop sizes in California plantings are probably traceable to rootstock-scion-soil interactions, but nobody's proven this yet.

Malic acid
A natural organic acid which occurs in ripe grapes in relatively high concentrations. It is the second most abundant organic acid in most wine varieties.

Malolactic fermentation
A bacterial fermentation which sometimes occurs in new wines after the primary yeast fermentation. Malolactic, or secondary fermentation changes natural malic acid into lactic acid and CO2. The CO2 bubbles off, giving the effect of a new fermentation, which it is. The resulting lactic acid is milder to the taste than malic acid making the wine softer and smoother. One other by-product of this process is diacetyl which has an aroma similar to heated butter.

Margaux
Great wine sub-region north of Bordeaux, producing red claret style wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and smaller amounts of its cousins, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

Marsala
The principle dessert wine of Italy, actually made in Sicily. It is similar to other fortified dessert wines but the taste is more raisiny and not so fruity as Ports or Madeiras.

Medoc
(pronounced may-doc) Red wine district within the Bordeaux region of France in which are produced many of the greatest red wines of the world. The greatness extends also to Haut Medoc, which is just up river from Medoc proper. Medoc encloses four primary communes

Merlot
(pronounced mer-low') One of the great red varieties of Bordeaux. Also produces fine red wines in California, Chile, Australia, Argentina and in many other regions. Merlot wines are often blended with Merlot's cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot wines tend to be lighter, with a little less intense varietal character than do Cabernet Sauvignon wines. They also tend to age a little faster in the bottle, making the wine somewhat quicker to attain peak drinkability in your cellar. I've always thought that Merlot must have been developed by an impatient Cabernet Sauvignon drinker. In general, I don't think Merlot is quite as rich as Cabernet although there certainly are some great Merlots to be found.

Méthode Champenoise
literally, "(made by the) Champagne method" the classic, expensive and time-consuming way to produce Champagne and many other sparkling wines. It involves a secondary fermentation within a small (twelve ounces to one gallon or so) bottle.

Meursault
(pronounced mer-sew') A section of Burgundy in France known and praised almost entirely for its white wines although some red (Pinot Noir) is grown as well. Meursault wines are soft, rich and velvety as opposed to the sharper, more flinty wines of Chablis. Both are produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape.

Microclimate
The localized climate in a specific, small area as opposed to the overall climate of the larger, surrounding region. A microclimate can be very small, as to encompass a single vine, or cover a whole vineyard of several acres or more. Microclimates can be caused by slope of the land, soil type and color, fog, exposure, wind and possibly many other factors.

Mis en Bouteille au Chateau
Term meaning "chateau bottled" in France. It means that the grapes were grown, fermented, aged and bottled on the property without being blended with wine from outside.

Montrachet
Probably the most famous white wine of the Cote de Beaune, Montrachet is often considered to be the greatest of all the world's dry white table wines.

Mosel
German wine region which, along with the Rheingau, produces some of the world's best Riesling (and related) wines. Known for its slate soil without which the region might not be able to grow and ripen grapes at all. It is one of the world's most northerly vineyards. But the best wines are truly superb, having all the finesse and delicacy one could hope for in a white wine.

Muscadet
Not to be confused with Muscat or Muscatel, this is another name for the Melon de Burgogne grape. The vineyards using Muscadet are in the lower Loire, in Brittany, France. They are probably the westernmost vineyards of France. The wines are crisp, and light; it's no surprise that for many years they were used to compliment the seafood of the same region in which they were grown.