Glossary: B

Balanced
A wine can be called balanced if the alcohol, tannin, acid and other elements of the wine are in harmony.

 

Balthazar
A large format bottle that contains 12 liters of Champagne, which is the equivalent of 16 bottles.

 

Barrel fermentation
The process of fermenting pressed grape juice in oak barrels. This step can add flavor and complexity to wines, with aromas and flavors being exacerbated by the process.

 

Barrique
A 225-liter small oak barrel of the type originally found in Bordeaux, but now used throughout the world.

 

Bâtonnage
Stirring of the lees (dead yeast cells) in wines production. This step can add complexity, aromas and flavors to wine.

 

Baumé
A technical term for measuring the approximate sugar concentration in grape juice through assaying total dissolved compounds. More commonly used in the old world.

 

Beaujolais
The southernmost subregion in Burgundy. This area is known for the Gamay grape and its nouveau style is looked forward to every November. Chardonnay is the white grape grown in this region, but Gamay is the star. The region is known for its granite soils, light body reds and approachable wine prices.

 

Beerenauslese
A wine affected by botrytis-cinerea and made into a sweet offering in Germany or Austria. These wines are rare and only made in the best vintages.

 

The Berthomeau Report

A study commissioned by French Ministry of Agriculture assessing the future of the wine industry.

 

Biodynamic viticulture
Biodynamics is an extreme version of organic agriculture, having been adopted by a number of high-profile wine growers such as Lalou Bize-Leroy of Burgundy and Nicolas Joly of the Loire. It is based on the teachings of Rudolph Steiner, a scientist whose philosophy became known in the 1920’s.

 

Bleeding
A winemaking term, known also by the French term of 'saignée'. Red wines gain their color and tannins from the contact between grape juice and skins during fermentation. In order to increase the ratio of skins to juice, some producers 'bleed' off some of the juice before fermentation. The juice bled off in this manner can be used to make rosé wine.

 

Blind tasting
Guessing the wine you are drinking without being told. Wine certification organizations often have their own version of what blind tasting entails, some more deductive and some more analytical than others.

 

Bobal

A grape varietal found in central and southern Spain.

 

Body
Tasting term describing the weight of the wine in the mouth. A “full” bodied wine will be heavy on the palate (like milk or half & half) where as a “light” bodied wine will be lighter on the palate (like 2% or skim milk).

 

Bordeaux
A wine region in France. It is famous for its Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon production, as well as the grand and infamous Chateau that line the banks of the Gironde estuary. The region was not much more than a swamp before the Dutch arrived in the 1600's to drain the region, creating fertile lands for agriculture. They undoubtedly uncovered one of the greatest areas for grape growing in the world, and over the centuries that followed Bordeaux would cement itself as a wine production epicenter. Over the course of the 20th century, wines from the Garonne and Dordogne rivers (tributaries of the Gironde) would become some of the most expensive offerings in the wine world, capable of ageing gracefully for decades. The right bank of the region shows its acumen with the Merlot grape, as that side of the estuary has the soils and microclimate that make the much maligned grape shine. The left bank has the preconditions for Cabernet Sauvignon, rendering the finest examples of the grape in the world. The region is also known as the largest producer of wine by volume in France, so not all Bordeaux is expensive, or even great for that matter. There is no denying what the region has accomplished over the last 300 years, and Bordeaux is forever implanted into the lexicon of fine wine lovers. 

 

Bordeaux mixture

A mixture of copper sulfate and lime used for many different viticultural purposes in vineyards around the world.

 

Botrytis
AKA Noble Rot of which the Scientific name is Botrytis cinerea. If it attacks unripe or damaged grapes, feeding on the skins and shriveling the fruit on the vine. Regions such as Sauternes and the Loire Valley utilize this phenomenon to produce the sticky sweet wines that their respected areas are famous for. See the longer guide on Sweet Wine.

 

Bouquet
A term describing the aroma of a wine, usually indicating intensity or showing complexity due to quality and proper ageing.  

 

Brettanomyces
A type of yeast that can inhabit a winery (and/or barrels that are sold from one winery to another) and cause off-putting aromas and flavors in wine. “Brett” (as it is commonly referred to) is a common spoilage organism that mainly, although not exclusively, affects red wines.

Brix

The measurement of the amount of sugar in a liquid. Utilized by growers to measure the sugar in the grape in order to determine harvest time and the potential alcohol levels of the finished product.

 

Broad
A wine tasting term. Broad depicts a style of wine the is full, rich or intense on the palate. 

 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

A wine region in Tuscany. Montalcino sits on a hilltop in the southern portion of the region and produces high quality wines from the Sangiovese grape.

 

Brut
Label language, depicting “dry”, in France. In Champagne, it comes with certain parameters that must be met to use this term (residual sugar range).

 

Budbreak or Budburst
The time period during the vine growing cycle where the buds of the plant burst and start to produce fruit.

 

Bulgaria
A country in eastern Europe with a long history of wine production, most known for bulk or lower quality offerings.

 

Burgundy
A wine region in France famous for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production. The region stretches from Chablis in the north to Beaujolais in the south, covering a large array of microclimates along the way. Some of the most sought-after wines in the world hail from Burgundy, however the region produces a good amount of lower priced wines, most of which do not get exported out of the region. The grand cru and premier cru offerings from Burgundy are the most sought after wines on the planet, and 4 digit prices are the rule, not the exception for these wines. Cru Beaujolais can offer some amazing value for the artisanal product it is, while Chablis has completely rebounded from the bad reputation it once endured. Hospitality professionals are well served by takin some time on the topic of Burgundy after the fundamentals of wine are absorbed, as the region is also a gastronomical epicenter.    

 

Buttery
A wine tasting term. Most often used for the rich, creamy characteristics found in barrel-fermented and/or malolactic fermented Chardonnay.