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


Town to the east and slightly south of Bordeaux which gives its name to the wines of the region. Saint Emilion wines are expected to be the biggest and heartiest of all the reds made in the Bordeaux regions. They take longer to develop their softness and drinkability than other wines from surrounding regions.

Northernmost of the major red wine communes of the region of Medoc.

Smallest of the four great communes which make up the Medoc region of Bordeaux.

Oversize wine bottle used for promotional purposes and to exaggerate the aging abilities of certain wines. It contains the equivalent of twelve 750ml wine bottles.

Small, but well established wine growing region in central France, not far from Chablis, but actually a part of the upper Loire valley. The only grape variety grown is Sauvignon blanc; the wines are normally quite crisp with what seems to be, for Sauvignon, a delicate flavor. The acidity is always high.

A red wine grape which seems to be related to both California's Zinfandel and the Primativo of southern Italy. It is the primary grape variety of Chianti in the Tuscany region of north-central Italy, but is grown elsewhere in that country as well.. The grape is easier to grow than Zinfandel as it is less susceptible to humidity during the ripening season. The buds push out very early in spring, however, and this is a disadvantage in frost-prone regions. Sangiovese needs a generous amount of heat summation and the wines are probably best when grown in region III (or high region II) climates. The primary mistake a grower is likely to make is to allow the vines to overcrop themselves. The best wines are produced from fully ripe grapes, picked at around 23 degrees Brix or even slightly higher. The wine flavor is fruity, reminiscent of cherries and currants and must not be aged in new oak too long to avoid the oak flavor overwhelming the fruitiness. This is especially true if the vines have been overcropped and the wines are less than full-bodied. Sangiovese wines make very impressive blends with Cabernet Sauvignon which age well when both wines are grown properly.

Singular, like all those other malicious French words ending in an unpronounced s. A region in southwestern France which produces fine dessert wines of the same name from the Semillon and Sauvignon varieties. Chateau Y'Quem is the most famous.

Sauvignon (sauvignon blanc)
White grape, second only to Chardonnay for table wines in many quarters. Used around the world for its ability to produce fine wines in regions a little too warm for the best Chardonnays. Often blended with its sister variety, Semillon.

French term meaning "dry." (However, on Champagne labels it means that the wine is sweet).

One of the primary white wine grapes of the Bordeaux area (Graves and Sauternes). It doesn't have a large following in the U.S., but it should. Now used in blends with Chardonnay by California wineries.

Fortified wine made in the Jerez (Sherry) region of southwestern Spain. Sherries can be dry or sweet, light and ethereal or robust, heavy and rich. There are only two general types

One of the better types of Italian white table wine. Always a blend, the wine is produced in the Veneto region of northern Italy. Soaves are especially good when only one or two years old.

The (sometimes) pompous guy in the restaurant who looks down his nose with a frown, all the time while making it clear that you should've ordered something more expensive from the wine list. A "wine steward" or waiter.

A coastal county north of San Francisco and one of the top wine producing areas of California. Many Sonoma wines are fully as acceptable as the finest of Napa Valley. Sonoma and Napa Counties have a common border from San Francisco Bay northward along the ridge of the Mayacamas mountains.

Sparkling wine
Wine which contains enough carbon dioxide to render it effervescent. The word "Champagne" is reserved for sparkling wines made by a specific procedure (the methode champenoise) in the Champagne region of France. Most other countries honor this and do not use the word "Champagne" for their sparkling wines. However, the U.S. was not bound by terms of the original treaty specifying this and wineries in the U.S. are therefore free to use the term "Champagne" for their sparkling wines. In the U.S., sparkling wines may be made using one of three general methods

German word meaning "late harvest." These wines are usually sweet, high in quality and more expensive than ordinary table wines. Usually worth the price.

Smell or taste sensation reminiscent of spices. Tasting term to describe a wine which gives an impression as if spices had been added during production (they weren't, of course). Gewurztraminer is the wine variety which is most often referred to as naturally spicy.

The Italian word for sparkling wine. Equivalent to sekt in German.

Stags Leap District AVA
This American Viticultural Area is located in the Napa Valley, north of the town of Napa and along the Silverado Trail. It is named for an outcropping of red rock where a stag supposedly leaped across a wide gap to escape his pursuers. The area is known for producing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sulfur Dioxide
A pungent gas used in wine to inhibit wild yeast growth, to protect wine from air oxidation and to inhibit browning in juice and wine. Pure sulfur dioxide gas has the pungent smell of burned (or burning) match heads. Fortunately, nobody has to use more than a few parts per million in wine. If done properly, the sulfur dioxide in wine is unnoticeable. Most yeasts produce sulfur dioxide on their own during growth and fermentation. Thus, wine virtually always contains traces of sulfur dioxide whether the winemaker adds it or not. The chemistry of sulfur dioxide in wine is complex and the compound exists in two primary forms

Super Tuscan
A term originated by the wine press to categorize a series of expensive Tuscan wines that are not made within the traditional wine laws of the region. The first, Sassicaia, is based on Cabernet Sauvignon but the second, Tignanello, is based on Sangiovese. Ornellaia's Masseto is based on Merlot! This group of wines have become some of Italy's superstars in the wine world.

White wine grape variety grown in Franconia and other regions of Germany, Austria, Alsace, the western U.S. (especially California and Oregon), Australasia, South Africa, and other areas in eastern Europe. It produces good, delicate tasting wines wherever the climate is not too warm.

Also spelled Sirah, this is a red wine grape, grown in the Rhone region of eastern France and in many other regions of the world. In the Rhone, it produces the famous Hermitage wines.