Swiss Wine Regions

Glossary of M

Maceration

The contact of grape skins with the must during fermentation, extracting phenolic compounds including tannins, anthocyanins, and aroma.

Madeirized

A wine showing Madeira-like (oxidized) flavor. Also used to describe white wine that is past its prime.

Magnum

A bottle holding 1.5 litres, the equivalent of two regular wine bottles.

Malic acid

A double carboxylic acid which adds a sharpness to wine. Undesirable in high concentrations it is often reduced through malolactic fermentation to lactic acid.

Malolactic fermentation

A secondary fermentation that converts malic acid into softer lactic acid. Adds complexity to Chardonnay and smoothness to reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Marc

French for fruit skins. See pomace.

Mash

See must

Master of Wine

A qualification (not an academic degree) conferred by The Institute of Masters of Wine, which is located in the United Kingdom.

May wine

A light German wine flavored with sweet woodruff (herb) in addition to strawberries or other fruit.

Mead

A wine-like alcoholic beverage made of fermented honey and water rather than grape juice.

Medals

Wine show awards for well-made wines. International and capital city wine shows are the most reliable indicators of quality. Gold medals are awarded to wines attaining 18.5 points or more (out of 20 points); silver medals,17.0 to 18.4; and bronze, 15.5-16.9.

Mercaptans

Yeast reacting with lees causing a mousey smell.

Méthode Champenoise

The traditional French method of producing sparkling wines, where the wine goes through secondary fermentation in the bottle in which it is eventually sold.

Methuselah

A large bottle holding six litres, the equivalent of eight regular wine bottles.

Microoxygenation

The controlled exposure of wine to small amounts of oxygen in the attempt to reduce the length of time required for maturation.

Midpalate

A tasting term for the feel and taste of a wine when held in the mouth.

Millerandage

A French term referring to a viticultural problem in which grape bunches contain berries of greatly differing size and levels of maturity. Caused by cool weather during flowering.

Mis en bouteille au château

French for bottled at the winery, usually in Bordeaux.

Morainic

Moraine is soil, rock and other debris deposited by glacial action (glacial drift).

Mousseux

A French sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region

Mucilage

A gummy substance produced by certain plants

Mud

See lees.

Mulled wine

Wine that is spiced, heated, and served as a punch.

Must

Un-fermented grape juice, including pips, skins and stalks. Also call mash.

Must weight

The level of ferment-able sugars in the must and the resultant alcohol content, if all the sugar was converted to ethanol.

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

Gouais Blanc

A promiscuous grape. Not good for much, but with a long, long line of descendents, including the noble Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Possibly from Croatia, it’s called Heunisch Weiss in Central Europe.

The name Gouais is comes from ‘gou’, which is a scornful word from old French referring to its standing as the grape of the peasants. Very prevalent in the Ile-de-France and in the Champagne during the Middle Ages and perhaps brought into Valais by the descendants of the Ligurians.

Acidic and with little residual sugar, it’s primarily used to blend with low acidic wine to give it a bit of liveliness. Ampelographic studies in the old vineyards of Oberwallis have found a red Gwäss with the same characteristics as the white Gwäss. Almost abandoned, it survives in Haut-Valais hiding under the alias of Gwäss, thanks to Mr. Josef-Marie Chanton, http://www.chanton.ch/home.html

Heida

From France’s Franche-Compté region, Heida is a rarity that is grown in the high vineyards of Visperterminen (Upper Valais) with the help of the warm Foehn winds. Probably brought into Valais by the Ligurians during their retreat into the mountains.

Chardonnay

A vigorous and adaptable vine from Burgundy, Chardonnay grows pretty much everywhere that wine is made. Although production is not so high in Switzerland, award-winning wines have come out of Geneva, Valais and Neuchâtel.

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart.

Ecclesiastes

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