Swiss Wine Regions

Glossary of B

Balance

The harmonious relationship of the components of wine (acid, fruit, tannin, alcohol, etc.) resulting in a well proportioned, or well balanced, wine.

Barrel

A hollow cylindrical container, traditionally made of wood staves, used for fermenting and aging wine. Today these may be of cement, plastic, stainless steel or oak. Oak barrels allow the wine to mature and breath while adding natural tannin and flavors such as vanilla or toast. Sometimes called a cask.

Barrique

The French name for a 225 litre Bordeaux-style barrel (Bordeaux hogshead). Will yield 24 cases of 12 bottles each.

Baum

A measure of the sugar concentration in the juice or wine.

Beeswing

A light sediment, chiefly mucilage, a gummy substance obtained from certain plants found in Port.

Bentonite

A type of clay used in wine clarification.

Berthomeau Report

Commissioned by French Ministry of Agriculture to better position the wine industry for the future.

Biodynamic wine

Wines produced by the principles of biodynamic agriculture, a method of organic farming.

Bitterness

One of the main taste sensations, usually detected at the back of the tongue after swallowing. Phenolic substances are the main source of bitterness in wine, and come from wood (oak) and the grape.

Blanc de Blancs

Meaning white from white this is a sparkling wine made from 85% or more of a white-skinned grape variety, usually Chardonnay.

Blanc de Noir

Meaning white from black this is a white or slightly pink sparkling wine made from 85% or more of a dark-skinned grape variety, usually Pinot Noir.

Bland

Wine-tasting term used to describe a wine that lacks any discernible character, though not necessarily having any particular wine faults.

Blend

Mixing of two or more grape varieties, vintages or locations to increase quality, complexity or maintain consistency.

Blind tasting

Tasting and evaluating wine without knowing what it is.

Bodega

A Spanish wine cellar. Also refers to a seller of alcoholic beverage.

Body

A term used to express the weight of a wine. Full-bodied describes a wine (generally one that is higher in alcohol) with fullness of flavor in the mouth.

Botrytis cinerea

Another name for the botrytis cinerea mold that can pierce grape skins causing dehydration. The resulting grapes produce a highly-prized sweet wine, generally dessert wine.

Bottle

A bottle is a small container with a neck that is narrower than the body and a mouth. Modern wine bottles are nearly always made of glass because it is nonporous, strong, and aesthetically pleasing.

Bottle age

Maturation and ageing in bottle imparts mature, mellow characters that increase the complexity, quality and overall harmony of wine.

Bottle fermentation

A method of producing sparkling wine where secondary fermentation occurs in bottles. The wine is then transferred to a pressure tank where it is mixed, filtered, then bottled.

Bottle shock

Also known as bottle-sickness, a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines (usually fragile wines) are shaken in travel. After several days the condition usually disappears.

Bottle variation

The degree to which bottled wine of the same style and vintage can vary.

Bouquet

Describes the complex aromas a wine develops after time spent in the bottle. Generally not applied to young wines.

Box wine

Wine packaged in a bag usually made of flexible plastic and protected by a box, usually made of cardboard. The bag is sealed by a simple plastic tap.

Brandy

A liquor made from distilled wine. It is often the source of additional alcohol in fortified wine.

Brettanomyces

A wine spoilage yeast that produces taints in wine commonly described as barnyard or band-aids.

Bright

Describes a wine that has high clarity and very low levels of suspended solids.

Brilliant

Perfectly clear wine with no suspended particles. Brilliance can be an indicator of wine quality, except in premium red wine, where some crust or sediment can be expected to form after bottle maturation.

Brix

A measure of the sugar concentration in juice or wine.

Brut

Unsweetened or very dry. Brut is sometimes used as a generic term for sparkling wines, usually of dubious quality. Not to be confused with Brut de Brut.

Brut Cremant

A dry sparkling wine that leaves a full, creamy, round mouthfeel.

Brut de Brut

A term used to describe sparkling wine that is fermented to absolute dryness containing no residual sugar.

Bulk fermentation

A method of producing sparkling wine in large stainless steel tanks as opposed to in the bottle. This process offers good quality, consistent wines.

Bung

A stopper used to seal a bottle or barrel. Commonly used term for corks.

Burnt wine

Another name for Brandy, a liquor made from distilled wine. It is often the source of additional alcohol in fortified wines.

Butt

An old English unit of wine casks, equivalent to about 477 litres (126 US gallons/105 imperial gallons).

Glossary by Letter

  • A (21)
  • B (36)
  • C (38)
  • D (17)
  • E (8)
  • F (24)
  • G (5)
  • H (7)
  • I (4)
  • J (2)
  • K (1)
  • L (10)
  • M (25)
  • N (5)
  • O (10)
  • P (23)
  • Q (1)
  • R (13)
  • S (31)
  • T (21)
  • U (2)
  • V (22)
  • W (11)
  • Y (2)
  • Z (1)

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Chénin blanc

The versatile “Pinot de la Loire” produces some fine wine in Valais. Like the Chasselas, it provides a neutral canvas for the winemaker’s art and terroir. Originating in the Loire valley of France, it has no relation or similarity to Pinot blanc.

Merlot

Imported from the Bordeaux region, Merlot has found a second home in Ticino where it performs extremely well. Later-ripening than the other main Swiss varieties, it is hardly present in other areas. Merlot red wines are racy, tannic and richly colored. A white wine from this black grape, commercialized as Merlot Bianco, gives quite interesting results and is increasingly popular with producers and consumers alike.

Muscat

A very ancient grape probably from Greece, Muscat Blanc is a delicate, difficult variety to cultivate. It is an aromatic specialty limited almost exclusively to Valais. Producing a fine, perfumed aperitif and dessert wine, Muscat Blanc should be served in its prime.

To eat, to drink and to be merry.

Ecclesiates

Swiss Alps, cows, wine bottle and large clock face in Bern, Switzerland

Fine Swiss Wine

Discover Switzerland’s odd grapes, small producers, and eclectic tastes