Sunday, September 6, 2009

French to English: Wine, Part 3

In our first wine blog, we talked about terroir and how it affects the quality of the wines produced in any given region.

One component of terroir is soil, another is climate.  And when it comes to climate, there are certain terms used by wine amateurs and enthusiasts to describe climate. Where I was born we talked of climate as being either wet or dry.  Of course we were never known as a wine-producing country, although we had a couple of strong liquors that sent drinkers on a wild and reckless rampage.

What are some climate terms used in wine lingo?

  • continental climate - this kind of climate has extreme variations in temperature in any given 12-month period.  It is characterized by severe and cold winters and hot and humid summers.  A continental climate is typical of a geographical area that is far from lakes and rivers;
  • degree days - this is a unit of measurement for determining the suitability of climates for the specific purpose of growing wine;
  • macroclimate - a region's general climate;
  • maritime climate - a region is said to have a maritime climate when it is partly dependent on a large body of water (sea or lake).  Stability of temperatures is a distinct feature of a maritime climate, which means winters are mild and summers are warm (without the humidity);
  • marginal climate - this is a climate that is barely climate suited for wine growing.  Temperatures lean more towards the cold.  Wines coming from marginal climate areas tend to be less consistent in quality.
  • mesoclimate - the climate on a smaller scale; that is the climatic condition of a small district or of a single vineyard;
  • moderate climate - regions with a moderate climate are said to have minimal fluctuations in temperature during the year.  Regions are located near bodies of water.




climat continental continental climate
degrés-jours degree days
macroclimat macroclimate
climat maritime maritime climate
climate marginal marginal climate
mésoclimat mesoclimate
climat modéré moderate climate

The above lexicon was fairly easy, wasn't it?

Let's now go to wine styles.  What type of wine holds a special place in your heart (or should I say palate)?  Do you like sparkling wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir), full-bodied wine with rich flavors (Chardonnay, white Rioja) or do you prefer crisp, dry light bodied wines (Chablis, Vinho Verde)?

Maybe you're a Rosé fan.  I like ice wine and Sangria.  I'm a little barbaric when it comes to distinguishing wines.  I spent money on software, not on wine.

In fact, it was only a month ago that I acquired a bit of knowledge about wine.  I went to Niagara-on-the-Lake and joined a wine tour.  There the "bartenders" showed us how to examine a glass of wine against a clear backdrop, how to sniff, how to swirl the glass a few times and then how to take in air vigorously by clenching your teeth, after the first sip or two.

One final thing:  spitting the wine is considered de rigueur.  Fascinating...



styles de vins wine styles
effervescent sparkling
bulles bubbles
sensation de picotement tingling sensation
piquant, corsé tangy, steely
vin aromatique ou fleuri aromatic or flowery wine
pierres humides damp stones
pointe d'acidité twang of acidity
groseilles à maquereau gooseberries
sucre du raisin grape sugar
cassis black currant
domaines viticoles particuliers individual wine estates
la législation française sur le vin French Wine Law

We'll come back to our wine lexicon at a later date, but next week I think I'll talk about office/school supplies - to mark 'back to school" and "back to work" blues.

Please stay tuned!

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