Glossary

corked: a flaw in wine contaminated by TCA or 2,4,6, trichloroanisole, which results from disinfecting corks with bleach. The resulting contamination creates aromas which evoke scents of wet dog or musty cardboard, exacerbating acids, and diminishing fruits.

racking: the syphoning or decanting of wine from tanks or barrels to clear the wine from sediment and lees.

Pissage: from the old French, pissier – to make water. Thus related to Pisces, the fish. i.e. to swim in wine. The practice of stripping naked and getting into a tank of fermenting red wine in order to punch down the cap. The displacement of heat from a fermenting tank of red wine by forcing ones body through the dried cap of grapes, thus mixing the solid matter with the juice in order to extract additional tannins. Traditionally accomplished by three virgins, working in trio. The scarcity of virgins in modern times has forced the tradition to settle for two men, working on well opposite sides of the tank.

Punching Down: The physical action of submerging the cap of dried grapeskins in a vat of wine in order to extract tannins and other flavonoids. This can be accomplished by using a paddle made of wood or metal, large hydrolic tools, a rotating fermenter tank, or naked virgins. (See Pissage, above.) One of the great abdominal workouts of all time,when done manually.

Tannins: from the French, tannique, giving us the color tan. Tannic Acid. The bitter, grainy flavor and textures felt at the side of one’s palette. A natural preservative (thus their use in the tanning of hides) tannins are extracted from the skins, stems and seeds of grapes and imparted during maceration at the begining of fermentation. Tannins change over time, ususally becoming more fine grained and velvety as a wine ages. Highly tannic wines are often very dry and chalky, and are better candidates for cellaring. All red grapes can be made in a range of styles from mildly tannic, to extremely tannic, depending on the winemaking.

Published on February 26, 2008 at 9:52 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Have a wine term that you don’t understand? You are welcome to request a definition and we’ll add it to our glossary!

  2. What does “punching down” mean?

    Punching down is the physical submersion of the thick, dried cap of grapeskins and must, in a vat of red wine, in order to extract additional tannins and flavonoids.


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