Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Staff Training - Terms Explained

There's always new staff to train in a growing organization. It helps to have a manual or training book with wine and vineyard terms explained from your company's viewpoint.

A little humour always helps.

Here's an excerpt:

Naturally-occurring or commercially prepared yeast (a genus in the kingdom of fungi) strains (usually Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Saccharomyces bayanus) prefer sugar (complex carbohydrates) to complete their life cycle. The by-products of their activity include alcohol and carbon dioxide. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is also used in the production of ale and stout. Another yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, is used for lager. Molson Canadian is a lager. If you notice, pastorianus has the word “anus” embedded in it which explains why Molson Canadian tastes like ass.

Malolactic Fermentation
Primarily used for red wine and Chardonnay, the ML fermentation is a bacterial infection that takes malic acid and converts it to a form of lactic acid. Human taste receptors perceive malic acid as sharp and tangy (think Granny Smith apples) while lactic acid, prominent in dairy products, is softer and ‘creamy’. In conjunction with other factors present, a wine that has gone through ML and barrel aging will be considered to be smoother and more complex. Aroma is also altered. Descriptors can include: corn, cream corn, banana, popcorn, caramel, butter, cheese. ML in white wine (Chardonnay) has been on the decrease in recent years.

They get their name from the tanning of animal hides. This was done by using an acidic solution sourced traditionally from oak bark that stopped the decomposition of the hides. Tannins in wine are complex astringent polyphenols that help stop the decomposition of the wine. Tannins are sourced from the grape skins, grape seeds and the wood of the barrel. Care must be taken to not extract too much tannin during production, especially from the seeds which can supply particularly harsh tannins. Tannins combine with substances in wine such as proteins and other macromolecules to form strong and heavy complexes that often precipitate and are seen as sediments in aged wines. The best way to describe the effect of tannin in wine is to have the subject drink from a cup of cold, strong tea. Tea contains a lot of tannin and there are few other flavours to confuse the palate. The effect will be a ‘furry’ tongue sensation. The tea should be sipped with the cup handle grasped between the thumb and the forefinger and the pinkie finger raised.

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