Sunday, August 30, 2009

French to English: Wine, Part 1

Terroir - this is one word that does not get translated into English.  Most English wine books you come across  use it because some writers say that the English doesn't quite capture the essence of this French word.

Terroir is the mirror, the total outcome, the all-encompassing description of wine.  It tells you a long story - the people, processes, soil and harvest - that come together beautifully producing a drink that acts like an eternal stimulant for wine lovers.  wine part 1

It is this whole idea of terroir that explains why no two wines are ever the same.  It's up to each person to define how simple or complex wine is.  You can look at it from the purely physical perspective - that of a flavorful but subtle blend of the yeasts, sugar and alcohol on your taste buds.  Or you can look at it from the perspective of a particular moment in history and of the soil upon which that moment occurred.

I was surprised to learn that even if wine is made all over the world these days, majority of the world's vineyards are clustered around in that part of the northern hemisphere between the 32° and 51°, and between the 28° and 42° of the southern hemisphere.

It is no wonder then that some of the best wines come from old regions like the Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley, and Tuscany.  They enjoy more than 220 hours of sun a month with temperatures ideal for growing grapes with just the right amount of rainfall (600 mm). 

If we understand how geography and climate affect the quality of wines, we begin to grasp the essence of terroir.  Getting the right terroir will produce that unmistakable and magnificent blend of acid, sugar, fruit flavors and tannins.  Wine experts are aware that if wines come from vineyards where there is a happy balance of heat, water (as from a lake or coastline) and altitude (for coolness), those wines are likely to be top shelf quality.



production de vin wine production
consommation de vin wine consumption
hectoliters hectolitres
établissement vinicole winery
les cepages grape varieties
vinification wine-making techniques
vin corpulent full-bodied wine
grande garde age worthy
vin moyennement corsé medium-bodied wine
intensité des arômes fruités fruit flavor intensity
vignoble vineyard
la taille et le palissage de la vigne pruning and wine training
labour plowing
taille d'été summer pruning
traitements spraying
débourrement bud break
premier feuillage first foliage
la floraison flowering
la véraison veraison
la chute des feuilles leaf fall
le danger du gel frost danger
entretien du vignoble vineyard maintenance
vendanges harvest

In Part 2, we'll look at a video and give you more French and English terms.  À votre santé!

Or simply:  chin-chin!

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