We believe good tasting, natural wines should be accessible to everyone and we hope that this glossary of terms helps make buying and drinking wine more approachable.

Natural Wine

Natural wines are wines that do not use additives or processing aids such as sugar, artificial yeasts, excessive sulfites, coloring or enzymes and the grapes are farmed without fertilizers or pesticides in the field. The grapes may also be farmed organically or biodynamically. To us, a natural wine is wine made of grape juice and not much else.

Organic Wine

Organic wines are farmed without pesticides or chemicals in the vineyard. Many vineyards grow grapes organically but are not certified due to the large fees associated with certification. There are many certification bodies around the world—each with their own regulations and standards that must be met.

Biodynamic Wine

Biodynamic wines are farmed with a type of organic cultivation that was developed by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian anthroposophist, in the 1920s. It is based on traditional practices where crops and animals occupy the same space to promote the diversity of natural ecosystems. The emphasis is to create a self-sufficient environment that aims to prevent disease instead of treating it and to farm with respect to the lunar calendar. There are nine natural preparations that are applied to vines under the biodynamic system. The preparations are derived from plants such as nettles, yarrow, chamomile, oak bark, dandelion, horsetail, valerian, minerals and manures that are used to stimulate microbial life and boost the immune systems of the plants as well as improve soil fertility.

Minum

An Indonesian word meaning "drink" as well as the namesake of the company. It also looks similar to the word "minimal" which describes the type of wines we want to share. 

Acetic Acid Bacteria

Bacteria that causes the oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid during fermentation.

Alcoholic Fermentation

The process of yeast converting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Bodega

A term used most often in Spain or South America referring to a wine cellar or a wine-producing estate.

Botrytis Cinerea

A fungus that affects many plant species but most commonly wine grapes. 

Brettanomyces

A strain of yeast commonly referred to as "Brett". When present in large numbers it can dominate the aroma of a wine and create an overpowering barnyard smell.

Brut

A term used in Champagne and sparkling wines to indicate low levels of sweetness.

Carbonic Maceration

A winemaking technique in which whole bunches of grapes are fermented in a sealed environment filled with carbon dioxide. This technique ferments the juice of the grape while it is still inside the grape before the skin splits. It produces extremely fruity flavors and low tannins and is often used in Beaujolais.

Chaptalization

The addition of sugar to grape juice to artificially produce more alcohol. In theory, this is not allowed in natural wines.

Chateau-Bottled

An indication on a French wine label that the wine has been produced and bottled on the same site.

Clos

A vineyard surrounded by walls.

Cuvée

French term describing a batch of wine.

Disgorgement

Process in the traditional method of sparkling wine making that removes yeast sediments after secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Dosage

A solution of sugar and wine that is added to sparkling wine after the bottle is disgorged.

Dynamizing

A biodynamic preparation method that involves stirring a tiny amount of the preparation in one direction to create a vortex. Then suddenly changing direction to create what is referred to as chaotic flow.

Enologist

A winemaker.

Élevage

French term for the care of wine between fermentation and bottling.

Filtration

A winemaking technique in which wine is passed through screen or pad to remove particles from the liquid before bottling. This helps with clarity and stability but many organic and biodynamic wine certification bodies have specific rules over what products can be used to filter. 

Fining Agent

Products added at the end of winemaking to clarify wine. These products can include powdered clay, fish bladder, milk protein, gelatin, or egg whites which cause sediment particles to settle so they can be easily removed. In theory, these are not allowed in natural wines.

Indigenous Yeast

The naturally occurring yeast on grapes or what blows around in the air. Indigenous yeast clings to surfaces in the vineyard, winery and on equipment. Making good wine with indigenous or wild yeast takes greater care than wines with inoculated fermentation. To us, this is a must for natural wine, more so than the addition of minimal sulfites.

Lees

Sediment or dead yeast cells left at the bottom of vats after alcoholic fermentation.

Maceration

A winemaking process that involves steeping the grapes in their own juice.

Malolactic Fermentation

Sometimes called "Malo",  this natural process converts malic acid into lactic acid through naturally occurring bacteria creating a rounder, less acidic wine. 

Must

Unfermented grape juice that has been extracted by crushing or pressing grapes before it has been transformed into wine.

Mutage

Also known as fortification, this indicates a wine that has had fermentation stopped by the addition of a spirit to the grape juice to retain natural sugars.

Orange Wine

Orange wines are white wines made by leaving the grape juice in contact with the skins and pips—a red wine making process. This process sometimes creates a white wine that is more amber in color. 

Oxidation

This describes a wine that has been exposed to an abundance of oxygen. The result is notes of nuts and caramel sometimes creating spoilage.  

Permaculture

Agriculture development with the intent to be permanent, sustainable, and self-sufficient.

Pet Nat

Short for "Pétillant Naturel" this is a naturally sparkling wine that is made by fermenting still wine and capping it to trap CO2. CO2 is a byproduct of fermentation that creates the bubbles in sparkling wine.

pH

Chemical measurement of acidity or alkalinity. A higher pH will result in a low acid wine, whereas a lower pH will result in a more acidic wine. 

Pump Over and Punch Down

Two processes where wine receives its color from the skins being left in contact with the juice. During a pump over, the juice is pumped over the skins—whereas during a punch down, the skins are pressed down into the juice.

Qvevri

Large claypots in Georgian winemaking that are buried underground for fermentation and maturation of wines.

Reduction

A process that reduces a wine's exposure to air to emphasize fresh fruit flavors. A wine with not enough oxygen will display aromas of struck matches.

Re-fermentation

A process where residual and fermentable sugars start to ferment again in the bottle.

Rootstock

These are the roots that a grapevine grows upon. Vitis vinifera vines are not planted on their own, existing roots, but are grafted onto the root of another species.

Ropiness

A characteristic of a wine displaying an oily texture.

Skin-Contact

A process where grapes are left in contact with their skins during winemaking. Sometimes orange wines are called skin-contact wines.

Sulfites (S02)

Sulfites occur naturally in wine but are also used as an additive for their antioxidant and antibacterial properties. We seek natural wines with zero or minimally added sulfites—often times only occurring at bottling.

Tannins

Polyphenols or micronutrients that occur naturally in grape stems, pips, and skins. They contribute to the structure and texture of a wine but also act as a natural preservative to help wine age. A wine high in tannins will appear astringent—similar to spinach or a strong black tea.

Terroir

A French term describing the interaction of soil, topography, climate, and grape variety in a specific location. Terroir is believed to connect the drinker to a specific place and time which changes and adapts from vintage to vintage. 

Unfiltered

A wine bottled without going through any method of filtration.

Unfined

A wine bottled without going through any method of fining.

Ungrafted Vine

Vines that have grown on their original rootstock.

Vegan Wines

Wines that are absent of fining agents such as egg white, milk protein, gelatin and fish bladders. In theory, all natural wines should be vegan.

Vigneron

A wine producer.

Vintage

The year in which grapes are grown for winemaking. This term also refers to the time of year that the grapes were harvested.

Viticulture

The science and study of farming grapes.

Whole-Bunch Fermentation

Grapes that are fermented without the stems being removed from the berries.

We wish to thank Jane Anson and Isabelle Legeron whose work greatly assisted us in writing this glossary.