Wine Glossary - Words that start with O
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Oak is used to make containers for storing and aging wine. Specific oak is used for small barrels to impart flavor and tannins to the wine. The newer the barrel, the more flavor it imparts. Oak is critical for making long lived red wines, and some whites. It can sometimes be over used to hide flavors or to make up for lackluster crops. Oak in wine should always be subtle, and in balance. Beware of any wine where the oak is the defining character. In larger containers, and older barrels, the oak does not impart much if any flavor, and so less expensive oak is used. There is a certain amount of air exchanged through the pores of a small oak barrel that can help to develop the aromas of the young wine (secondary aromas). Again, larger oak barrels do not let enough air in to greatly effect the volume of wine they hold.

Oechsle (uh'k-sleh)
The German scale of measuring the sugar content of must (in the US we use the Brix Scale). The aim of such scales is to determine the potential alcohol content of the finished wine. This is a critical measure of when to harvest.

Oeil de Perdrix (uh'y duh pair-dree)
Literally "eye of the partridge" in French. The term is used to connote a color of wine. It is a browning pink color. The term is old, and rarely used much anymore, but seems to have referred to Rosé wines that were slightly oxidized. You may run across the term in reading old notes, or from overly poetic wine writers.

A very general word for any wine that is not quite as it should be. Usually used by a taster familiar with the wine, who is pronouncing that this bottle or sample is somehow damaged. Especially used to describe an odor that may be due to a problem with the wine.

Oidium (oh-ee'-d'yum)
The powdery mildew fungus that devastated the vineyards of Europe in the mid-nineteenth century. Like the phylloxera plague that would follow, Oidium was brought from America. It is now controlled in the vineyard by spraying.

Oloroso (o-lo-ro'-so)
A Sherry that has not been aged in the presence of "flor." Dry, like all Sherry when aging in a barrel, this is the Sherry that is often sweetened and sold as Cream Sherry.

Oporto (o-port-o)
The city on the Douro river in Portugal that gave Port its name. The Port trade is actually conducted across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia because of the fire danger the aging Port presents.

Organoleptic (or-gan-o-lep'-tic)
Examination with the senses as opposed to a chemical or physical exam. This is the highest form of wine tasting. An expert must be able to taste the wine and have a good idea of what it is, and more importantly, what it should be. A laboratory analysis can aid the winemaker in determining if the wine has finished a particularly stage, or needs to be adjusted, but only a taster can determine quality and marketability.

Originalabfullung (o-reeg'-ee-nahl-ahh'-foo-lung)
The older German term for "Estate Bottled." It was largely replaced in 1971 when the German wine laws went into effect, by the term "Erzeugurabfullung."

Orvieto (ohr-v'yay'-toh)
A well known Italian white wine made from the Trebbianno grape in the Umbria region.

A wine tasting term for a wine that has absorbed oxygen. In extreme examples the wine (usually white wine) has begun to turn brown. This process is identical to the browning that occurs in an apple that has had a bite taken out of it. Also known as "maderized."