Wine Glossary - Words that start with W, X, Y or Z
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Wein (vine)
The German word for "wine."

Weingut (vine'-goot)
The German term for a vineyard estate. If it appears on a bottle the grapes must come entirely from vineyards the producer owns.

Weinkellerei (vine-kel'-er-rye)
The German term for a wine cellar. If you see this on the label, it may be an off hand way of telling you that the grapes for this wine do not come from the producers own vineyards.

Weissburgunder (vice'-boor-gun-der)
The German name for the Pinot Blanc grape.

Welschriesling (velsh-reece'-ling)
A white wine grape that is not related to, but is trying to capitalize on the name of Riesling. It is planted throughout Europe, especially in and near Austria.

White Zinfandel
A rosé (pink) wine made from the red wine grape Zinfandel. It tends to be somewhat sweet and easy to enjoy. This is the wine that snobs love to hate. Do not mistakenly call this pink wine "Zinfandel," as the red wine made from Zinfandel is one of California's greatest wines.

Wine Cooler
A mix of wine and fruit juices (or lime flavored soda). The practice of disguising bad wine with sweetened juice is as old as wine itself. The name has developed a negative connotation for many wine lovers, since the prepackaged, sweetened and carbonated version is little more than soda pop with a touch of alcohol.

When a wine has had extensive aging in a barrel it takes on the barrel taste, hence it is "woody." The taste of wood, usually oak, should not dominate the flavor of the wine. It is there to help the wine age, and will diminish over time. Some winemakers disguise the taste of their wines with wood, especially in regions where the grapes do not ripen completely. In the New World this taste has become synonymous with Chardonnay for many wine lovers, although one may debate that this is not a positive thing.

Wurttemberg (vur'-tem-bairg)
A good sized German wine region. It is situated around the well known German city of Stuttgart, home of the German automobile industry. The red wines made in the region are of the greatest interest. Besides the usual red wine grape Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) here you will also find local varieties such as Trollinger, Lemberger and Schwarzriesling (which is not a black riesling at all, rather it is the Pinot Meunier grape which is also found in the Champagne region of France).




Xeres (sair-ress)
The old name for the town of Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, where Sherry is produced. It was the mispronunciation of this word that led to the name of Sherry.




The single cell organisms that are responsible for fermentation. This is as true in wine as it is in beer or even bread. In the case of wine, the primary yeast responsible for the first (alcohol) fermentation belong to the class "Sacharomyces." Not all yeast is good yeast, and some can lead to spoilage. Many types of yeast may be found in and around wineries, and due to the need to control the specific yeast in wine, sterility is extremely important in a winery.

A wine taster's term for a wine that has a pronounced flavor of yeast. Reminiscent of fresh bread, this flavor is common in sparkling wines and wines aged "sur lie." For all other types of wine, this flavor should be considered a fault. It should never be too pronounced, and in sparkling wines, it should be more toasty (like burnt bread) than a freshly baked loaf.

When related to wine this term refers to the amount of fruit any given vine or vineyard produces. As with so many things in wine, this is a balancing act. You want to get enough fruit to remain profitable; however, by reducing the yield you attain more flavor fruit. In Europe the relative yield of a vineyard or vine is often regulated by law. This ensures quality wines. Modern vineyard techniques have managed to increase yields while still maintaining quality. The laws and the world of wine remain in flux as the perfect balance of the number of vines per area and the yield per vine are sought.

A designation for any wine that is not quite ready to drink. In the case of lighter wines, this may be directly on release; but, for Cabernet Sauvignon based wines, and others designed for prolonged aging, the period of youth may last a decade or more.

Yquem / d'Yquem, Chateau (ee-kem / dee-kem)
The highest rated wine of the Bordeaux region of France. In a land where long lived red wines are common, Chateau d'Yquem is an even longer lived sweet white wine. Made from the Semillon grape with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc, this is a dessert wine like no other. As with other wines from the Sauternes district, the grapes achieve their intense sweetness after being effected by the botrytis mold, which removes the water from the grape. The shriveled remains of these grapes are then picked, at their peak of perfection, a task that often takes several "tries" or trips to the vineyard, over a period of weeks to accomplish. While other Sauternes may be described as sweet apricots and figs, I am fond of saying that d'Yquem is "a cornucopia of fruit, that is ever changing in your mouth." There are other Sauternes, and other dessert wines, but nature and man have teamed up to put Chateau d'Yquem in a class by itself.




A red wine grape found almost exclusively in California.
Now proven to be the Crljenak Kastelanski, of Croatia, where it is all but extinct. In Italy it is known as Primitivo, but evidence suggests that it came to Italy from California, and not the other way around as was originally thought. Zinfandel has been widely planted in California for generations. These vines are older than most other vines in the area, and for this reason produce some of the most intense fruit. For the uninitiated, Zinfandel means a pink wine. It is important to remember that pink wine can be made from any red wine grape, and that the true red Zinfandel shares little with its pink counterpart. Known for its wide variety of styles, most Zinfandel is not particularly tannic (and does not age well) while having an abundance of fruit, to the point of being "jammy." While Zinfandel is one of my personal favorites, especially in the moderate price range, some find the forward fruit to be too much of a good thing.

The enzymes excreted by yeast that actually do the work of fermentation. While this is so technical that most books do not even bother to mention zymase, it has yet another claim to fame. It is the root of the word Zymurgy which ends nearly all english language dictionaries.

Zymurgy (zi'-mer-gee)
The science and study of fermentation.