Glossary: M - N

-M-

 

Maceration  
A winemaking term for the part of the process when the grapes are left to “sit” on their skins after pressing, leaving time for (red) wines o gain their color from the pigment and anthocyanins in the skins.

 

Machine harvesting
A viticulture term for the use of mechanized methods to remove the grapes from the vines during harvest. Often looked at as industrialization, mechanized harvesting does not automatically mean lower quality, although many high-end wines use hand harvesting methods.      

 

Macroclimate
A viticulture term for the immediate area surrounding a wine region, and the climate that is most prevalent.

 

Madeirization
A wine tasting term that describes a “cooked” or “caramelized” aroma and flavor to a wine. This refers to the estufa process that some Madeira’s go through, rendering the wine with these unique characteristics.

 

Magnum  
A larger format style bottle which holds 1.5 liters of wine, or the equivalent of 2 bottles.

Malbec

A red wine grape that hails from Bordeaux and the SW portion of France. The region of Cahors in the SW France region is the most prolific expression of this wine from the old world, however, wine drinkers know this grape as the darling of Mendoza, Argentina. The Argentines have hung their proverbial hat on this grape, and it has paid major dividends for them. This grape has become extremely popular in the restaurant environment, as it gives a great amount of quality for its price point. It can be compared to Merlot in body style and texture, but it has a slightly different flavor profile that wine drinkers are really enjoying these days. 

 

Malic acid  
A type of acid found in all fruit. Malic acid is high in green apples, giving off an abrasive texture and finish if levels are too high. See Malolactic fermentation below.

 

Malolactic fermentation  
A winemaking term that describes the conversion of sharp malic acid (found in green apples) into lactic acid (found in milk). Almost all red wines go through this process, with the most noticeable white wine seeing this treatment being Chardonnay, as it derives its creamy and buttery texture front his process. Often described as "malo"; many restaurant guests have come to love and seek this style of wine out, while others loathe the taste of creamy notes in their wine. 

 

Manzanilla

A style of sherry, closely related to Fino, made in the seaside town of Sanlucar de Barrameda. This wine has more salinity than its Fino counterpart due to the proximity to the ocean and the violent breezes off of the water that this region is famous for.

 

Marc  
A winemaking term that describes the left-over solid matter after the grapes are pressed for their juice. A rough type of brandy is produced from this material, and Italy is prized for its grappa which is made from the marc.

Marie-Jeanne
An all but forgotten about bottle size used in Bordeaux that is the equivalent of 3 bottles, or 2.25 liters.

 

Master Sommelier

One of the main certification processes for those in the hospitality industry. The Court of Master Sommeliers is the testing organization behind this certification.

 

Master of Wine
One of the main certification processes for those in the wine industry. The Wine & Spirits Education Trust program is the precursor to the MW program.  

Merlot

A red wine grape that has been either partially or solely responsible for some of the most sought after (and expensive) wines in the world. This grape hails from the Bordeaux region, where on the right bank of the Gironde Estuary, on the Dordogne tributary, it produces its most prolific expression. The communes of Pomerol and St. Émilion produce the benchmark style of the grape, full bodied and dry, with just a touch more generous fruit than Cabernet Sauvignon. In Napa Valley, the Merlot grape produces a full bodies and richer style of wine, with a perceived amount of residual sugar in the riper styles. The fact is that Merlot grows everywhere, as its popularity is undeniable, and there are literally hundreds of regions around the world that "specialize" in the grape. Overall, the wine tends to be similar to Malbec, heavier than Syrah and not quite as dry as Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 

Mesoclimate
A viticulture term describing the immediate climactic conditions surrounding a vineyard, referring to its impact on the viticulture of that area.

 

Méthode Champenoise
The traditional method of sparkling wine production where the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. This, along with many other techniques, are utilized to make the wonderful elixirs of Champagne. 

 

Méthode Traditionelle
A term for the traditional method of sparkling wine production, utilized in Champagne, which sees the second fermentation take place in the bottle. 

Methuselah  
Large-format bottle that contains 6 liters of volume (8 bottles).

 

Moelleux  
A winemaking term denoting residual sugar in the wine, and the drinker can definitely expect sweetness from these wines.

 

Must  
The mixture of grape juice, stems, pips and skins that remains in the fermentation vat after pressing and before the fermentation kick starts.

 

Mutage
A winemaking term that describes the addition of grape spirit to the fermentation vat in order to arrest the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine. Also known as fortification.

 
 
 

-N-

 

Napa Valley

The premier wine region in America due to an amazing climate for Vitis vinifera growth and historic precedence, as Napa has the longest history of fine wine production in the U.S.

 

Nebbiolo

A red wine grape found most prominently in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. This grape is responsible for Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as many other smaller communal appellations in northern Italy. The wine is notoriously tannic, especially in its youth, and can age gracefully for decades when made properly. The wine is medium bodied and deceivingly translucent in the glass in relation to the tannin and acidity (structure) the grape has. Nebbiolo is the best described as "power without weight", as the seemingly lighter style gives off immense structure when consumed. Much like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo is best reserved for those guests who enjoy old world styles of wine with considerable tannin. 

 

Négociant  
A term found in France describing someone who brokers wine, finished in either barrel or

 

New Zealand  
A wine producing country in the south Pacific Ocean that has found notoriety in their expressive version of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. However, both islands are well suited to Vitis vinifera production, with a diverse array of microclimates to take advantage of. Central Otago, on the southern island, has made a name for itself as an up and coming area of Pinot Noir production.    

 

Noble Rot  
A viticultural term for Botrytis cinerea, the fungus necessary to produce some of the greatest sweet wines in the world. The mold attaches itself to the outer layers of the grape, eventually piercing the grapes and leaking the juice out, concentrating the remaining sugars and laying the groundwork for the production of naturally sweet wines. Places like Sauternes in Bordeaux and the Coteaux du Layon in the Loire Valley.

 

NV (non-vintage)

As often found on a bottle of Champagne, NV refers to the grapes being harvested in different years yet used in the same bottling. As a wine does not adhere to the minimum percentage to be labeled with a vintage, non-vintage or multi-vintage (MV) will be used. In Champagne, this is a way that year over year consistency is established, as NV wines can be adjusted easier than a wine from a particular vintage.