Glossary: S

Saignée
This winemaking term for the bleeding off a portion of red wine after a short period of skin contact of the juice. This is utilized in the production of rose, as the winemaker wants to extract just a touch of color from the red grapes and remove the skins (where the anthocyanins are) from the juice quickly.

 

Salmanazar
A large format bottle, named after a biblical king, with a volume of 9 liters, or 12 bottles.

Sangiovese

A red wine grape most notably found in Tuscany, Italy. However, this variety can be found throughout the peninsula, with many regions claiming this grape as their own. It is in Tuscany, specifically Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, where this grape shows its most promise and greatest expression. Sangiovese is medium to full bodied and dry, so recommendations to your guests should be reserved for those who like dry, old world styles of red wine.

Sauvignon Blanc

Arguably the second most popular grape in the world, Sauvignon Blanc (“SB” for the rest of this piece) is responsible for some of the great wines in the world. Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume and the white wines of Bordeaux all owe a debt of gratitude to this dynamic grape, and regions such as Marlborough in New Zealand have hung their hat on this variety. SB, along with Cabernet Franc, are the genetic parents of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, so there are many DNA similarities in this family of grapes. In cool climates, SB shows high minerality and high acidity, making its most popular expression one or crisp and refreshing appeal. In warmer climates, SB can take on a more tropical aroma and flavor profile, with less of the green or herbaceousness that the variety is known for. Although there are some famous (and expensive) versions of this grape, as mentioned above, the prevailing winner in the popularity contest is the fresh and crisp style, often found in the Sancerre region of the Loire Valley. One thing most do not know, SB is a major component of Sauternes, producing some of the most sought after and historically significant sweet wines in the world. Other old world areas that are known for their SB production are northeastern Italy, Slovenia, Germany and some parts of Spain. New world areas of note are New Zealand, Sonoma and Napa Counties in California and Washington State in the Pacific Northwest.  

 

Screwcaps
A metal enclosure used heavily in the wine industry, especially for white wines and those that are meant to be consumed within 3 years of bottling.

 

Sec  
French term for 'dry'.

 

Sediment

Solid matter that is left in or forms in the wine and presents itself upon pouring. This can be dealt with in many different ways, with the most common way to decant the wine before consuming.

 

Sherry
A fortified wine from Jerez, in southern Spain. This wine is comprised mostly of the Palomino grape, however some other grapes (such as Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez) make their way into the blends. Sherry is often made from the Solera system, a method of fractional blending very rarely encountered in the world of wine. As with all fortified wine, high-proof grape spirit has been added, in this case after fermentation is almost done, with the resulting wines having alcohol levels between 15% and 22%, depending on style.  

 

Smaragd

The top category in a classification system in the Wachau region of Austria, based on ripeness level at harvest. This level has the highest alcohol levels and the most body, with some of these wines having high extract levels and intense richness on the palate.  

 

Solera  
A fractional blending system by which small amounts of each vintage are spread out and partially blended, with the resulting wines being mostly comprised of the last few vintages, but small amounts of many vintages passed are in the final wine. This is rarely encountered in the alcoholic beverage world, as it is a laborious and costly effort to make.   

 

Soutirage

A French winemaking term for moving the ageing wine off of its sediment by moving it from one contained to another.

 

Spätlese  
A German label term denoting a “late harvest”, letting the fruit hang on the vine past the point of physiological ripeness. This increases the sugar content, or “must weight”, and thus the resulting wine will have sweetness, if not fermented dry. If the wine is harvested late and fermented to dryness, the wine will have a higher alcohol level than usually found, along with high amounts of dry extract.  

 

Spumante

A term for sparkling wine in Italy.

Saint-Émilion Classification

From 1954 to 2012, this Bordeaux subregion was classified into crus, and ranked according to their quality levels. This classification is often sited, along with the 1855 of the left bank, as one of the most influential classifications of any wine region in the world. It is not without its flaws and controversies, as many of the top properties are now opting out of the classification, as it loses some of its influence in the world of wine.

 

Steinfeder

A ripeness category found in the Wachau region of Austria. This is the lightest and lowest alcohol level of a system that rewards ripeness and potential alcohol, found naturally from the best sites along the Danube River. These wines have a maximum alcohol level of 11.5% and are rarely found outside of the European Union.

 

Structure  
A wine tasting term denoting the way the wine feels on the palate, with a “well structured” wine having a balance of acidity and tannin.  

 

Super Tuscan

A term found on wines from Tuscany, Italy that historically fell outside of the regulations of the strict DOC and DOCG systems. Comprised mostly of Bordeaux grapes and the regional specialty, Sangiovese, these are usually full bodied and heavier wines, with great complexity and a true laborious effort behind them.

 

Sur Lie  
A winemaking term denoting the process of ageing a wine on its dead yeast cells (a byproduct all wines have in some fashion) to gain aroma and flavor compounds the would not otherwise possess.  

 

Süssreserve

A German winemaking term for grape juice and sugar mixture used to sweeten wines, as well as raise the potential alcohol when added into the fermentation vat.

Syrah

A red grape variety from the Rhône Valley of France, Syrah is the 4th most grown red grape around the world. The Australians call it Shiraz, and some wine writers still refer to it as Hermitage (an homage to the most prolific Syrah appellation), but its ability to yield high end wines when grown by a serious producer is undoubted no matter its moniker. Syrah from the Rhône Valley is its most archetype expression, with a diverse array of aromas and flavors. Its hallmark is the slightly peppery and earth tones it gives off, which in the hands of the right winemaker, compliment the dark savory fruit profile. If you were to taste most of the Shiraz coming out of Australia over the last 20 years, one would have a hard time identifying it as Syrah, as the style became so full bodied and high in alcohol that it simply fell out of favor with wine drinkers. Malbec was waiting there to steal its thunder, and it has replaced Shiraz as the 3rd most ordered red wine in a restaurant environment (with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir as numbers 1 and 2, respectively). Rhône Valley is the ancestral home of the Syrah grape, and communes such as Hermitage, Côte Rôtie and Cornas still hold the title as the most admired expression of the grape. These wines were once more sought after than Bordeaux or Burgundy, and the best examples are still held in high regard amongst wine collectors and sommeliers. Spain, behind France and the Aussie's, grows the third most Syrah by acreage, although you would be hard pressed to find an example that was life-changing. South America is growing a large amount of this grape these days, as is the United States. Columbia Valley, Washington produces some great examples of the grape, and much like their work with Bordeaux varieties of grapes, the valley provides a great midpoint between old world and new world styles.