Glossary: P

Palo Cortado
This is a style of Sherry that is rare and often expensive, as a winemaker never really sets out to make a Palo Cortado, it just happens on its own; sometimes. These offerings often resemble an intense and more refined version of Fino Sherry.

 

Passerillage
A French viticultural term for allowing the grapes to shrivel on the vine before they are harvested. This concentrates the sugar, allowing for either a sweeter wine or, if fermented to dryness, a higher alcohol and fuller bodied wine.

passerillage 1.jpg

Passito

An Italian term for wine made from dried grapes.

Pasteurization
The process of heating wine (or any other food product) to a temperature that kills bacteria. This was invented by Louis Pasteur, the French scientist.

 

Pedro Ximénez
A white grape that is most associated with the sweet wines of Montilla-Moriles in Andalucia, Spain. PX, as it is known, is often used as a blending partner in Jerez (Sherry), and rarely bottled on its own as it is in Montilla-Morilles.

 

Pétillant
A label term in France used to denote a slight carbonation to wine. Some regions specialize in a lightly sparkling version of Champagne, often adding more diverse flavor and a touch of sweetness.

 

Penfolds

Arguably the most significant producer in Australia, having commanded high pries for its expressions for many decades. Grange if their flagship wine, leading the way for auction trophies from down under.

 

Pergola

A vine training system where the canopy (leaves) is grown up and over walkways to shape the paths as well as take advantage of prime real estate. This is also of historic value, as Italy is known for its beautiful pergolas on the wine estates from antiquity.

Also known as the Tendone system.

 

Photosynthesis
The scientific process in which plants, by virtue of chlorophyll and energy derived from the sun, convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen. The result is the accumulation of sugar in the plant, including the fruit. This culminates with physiological ripeness, or the level at which the vigneron is ready to harvest.

 

pH  
An important factor in soil and final wine composition, pH is a measurement of acidity levels and definitely a factor in wine production.

 

Phylloxera  
A vine pest that has been destroying fine wine vineyards around the worlds for hundreds of years. This malady devastated some of the greatest vineyards in the world in the second half of the 20th century.  

 

Pierce's disease  
A vine disease caused carried and spread by the glassy wing sharpshooter, is one of the biggest threats to California vineyards.

Pigeage
A French winemaking term for punching down the cap, a phrase that depicts the solid matter floating to the top of a fermentation vat and a winemaker pushing the skins back into the vat.

Pinot Blanc

A white wine grape that is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir, and produces a fairly ordinary wine. You can find it almost everywhere Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are grown, yet it rarely is made into a single varietal wine.

Pinot Gris

A white wine grape that is an alternate clone of Pinot Noir, producing a slightly more interesting white wine than its cousin, Pinot Blanc. Places such as Alsace, France and Oregon make solid examples of this grape variety, however, it is rarely an earth shattering moment when one drinks Pinot Gris. Pinot Grigio, the Italian nomenclature for this variety, is a light and bright wine that is easy drinking and popular around the world. 

Pinot Noir

A red wine grape that is arguably the most prolific fine wine grape in the world. As the red grape of Burgundy, it commands the highest prices in the world when made from one of the grand cru or premier cru parcels. Examples that hail from the new world may not be as expensive, but overall, pinot noir is one of the most expensive wine grapes to purchase in a restaurant. The grape produces a wine that is light to medium body, moderate tannins and usually has a good amount of non-fruit characteristics, especially in the new world.

 

Portugal  
A historically significant country in the wine world, as Portugal has been at the center of the fine wine world for centuries. Oporto, famous for its “port” wines is easily the most famous, as these where the most sought-after wines in the world for a long period of history. There are great wines made up and down the country, with the potential    

 

Powdery Mildew

A vine disease, originating in North America, that slowly kills off the grapevine, with the vine giving meager yields of fruit once affected. Also known as oidium.

Prädikat
The classification system utilized in Germany and Austria based off the oechsle levels, or the ripeness level of the grapes at harvest. Terms like kabinett and spatlese are part of the prädikat label language.

 

Press wine
The juice that is pressed out of the left over skins is the press wine, which contains more color but also more tannin and astringency that the free run juice that precedes the pressed juice in the production process.

 

Pruning
A viticultural term referring to the trimming of the grapevines after harvest, as well as a few other opportune times throughout the vines growing cycle.

 

Pupitre
A French winemaking term for the wine rack which holds bottles in a suitable position for remuage, the gradual turning of the bottles to keep sediment together for removal later in the process.

 

Puttonyo
A viticulture term for a 25kg basket used to harvest of grapes in Hungary. Tokaji, Hungary’s famous sweet elixir, was known to use the amount of Puttonyos in each vat to quantify quality on the wine label. However, that practice is going away as wine regions try to make their label language more uniform and understandable.

Pyrazine

A chemical component found in the Sauvignon family of grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc) which is responsible for the grassy or herbaceous aromas and flavors in those wines. This chemical can often be described as "green bell pepper" in red wines, while the term "grassy" (or the pejorative "cat piss") can be applied to some whites. This is a wine tasting term best reserved for the study group, as we almost never discuss this when selling or serving wine.