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Sweeter Than Wine Glossary

Sweeter Than Wine contains many German phrases and winemaking terms, and we’ve gotten
some questions about what some of it means. Hopefully, the following glossary will help clear up
any confusion.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W

A

Alicante Bouschet

A black, thick-skinned grape used to make red wine.
This variety became very popular during Prohibition, because it could be
shipped long distances for sale to home winemakers.

Allgemeine Landesbank Schlettstat

(German) The Universal Farmer’s Bank of Schlettstat

Alsace

A mountainous region on the border of Germany and
France, renowned for its wines and unique Franco-German culture. Ownership of
Alsace has changed repeatedly between Germany and France. Alsace belonged to
Germany 1870-1918 and briefly again during WWII. Since 1918, it has been part
of France with the exception of 1940-45.

B

Bahnhofplatz

(German) The square or plaza in front of a train
station.

Bitte

(German) Please. Can also mean, You’re welcome.

black rot

A fungal disease that attacks grapevines.

Bordeaux

A full-bodied red wine usually made from a mix of
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes.

Bordeaux mixture

A mixture of copper sulphate, lime, and water
sprayed on grapevines to prevent fungus diseases.

bratwurst

(German) Fried sausage

Brix scale

A device used to measure the percentage of sugar in
grape juice.

Burgundy

A medium-bodied red-wine made from Pinot Noir
grapes.

C

Cabernet Sauvignon

A grape variety used to make full-bodied red wines.

chaise longue

(French) A long reclining chair.

Charbono

A red wine grape originally from the Piedmont region
of France.

Claret

A term referring to a full-bodied red table wine
made from any of the following grape varieties: Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon,
Gamay, Grignolino, Petit Sirah, Pinot Noir, or Zinfandel.

D

Das fängt ja gut an!

(German) This is a great way to start something!

Das kann ja doch nicht sein!

(German) You’re kidding me!

Du bist mein Herz, mein Leben

(German) You are my my heart, my life.

E

Elsaß

(German) Alsace

Es möge Gott dieses Haus und die Bewohner vor Unheil zu schützen.

(German) A prayer offered during a topping-out
ceremony: If it pleases God, protect this house and its inhabitants from
misfortune
.

F

fermenters

Large vats made of wood, slate, or cement in which
the fermentation of the grape juice into wine occurs. This is the second step
of the winemaking process, after crushing but before aging.

Franz

German man’s name.

Frau

(German) Mrs.

free-run juice

Grape juice extracted by a very light pressing.
Considered to be the highest-quality juice for wine-making as it is unaffected
by the flavors from crushed seeds or stems.

G

Geh weg!

(German) Go away!

grappa

Brandy distilled from marc. See marc.

Grenache

A grape variety used for making blush (pink) wines.

Grüß Gott

Traditional Southern German greeting. Used like
"hello;" literal meaning: "I greet you in the name of God."

Gruyere

A firm cheese with small holes and a nutty flavor,
orginally from Switzerland but used widely in Alsatian cooking.

H

Haut Königsbourg

One of the mountains in the Vosges range of Alsace.

Heimat

(German) The town, state, or country sentimentally
considered the place of one’s origin. Literally, "home place."

Herr

(German) Mr.

Herz

(German) Heart

I

Ich bin wütend

(German) I’m livid [enraged].

Ich bin zu haus’

(German) I’m home.

Ich liebe Dich

(German) I love you.

J

Ja

(German) Yes

Johann

(German) John

Jürgen

(German) man’s name

K

Karsten

(German) man’s name.

Kugelhopf

A tall, turban-shaped yeast sweetbread, often baked
with almonds and raisins, and dusted with powdered sugar.

L

Landesbank

See Allegemeine Landesbank.

lass mich

(German) Allow me.

Liebchen

(German) My beloved.

Lieber Gott

(German) Dear God

Lieber Gott, ich bitte Dich

(German) Dear God, I beg you…

M

Macht nichts

(German) It doesn’t matter.

marc

(French) The mass of grapeskins, stalks, and seeds
left over after the grapes have been crushed and the juice extracted. Also
known as pomace.

Marc schnaps

A potent, colorless brandy distilled from marc.

Mein Gott

(German) My God.

mercaptan

A hydrogen sulfide contaminant, which gives wine a
variety of unpleasant odors such as manure, rotten meat, or rotten eggs. A
by-product of sterilizing wine barrels with too much burning sulfur.

Mutti

(German) Mama

N

Nichts

(German) Nothing.

Nichts als Quatsch!

(German) That’s a load of nonsense!

O

Offizierstellvertreter

(German) A deputy officer in the army– literally,
one who performs an officer’s duties without holding an officer’s rank.

P

Phylloxera

Also known as "root louse." A tiny insect
that lives in the soil, and attacks grapevine roots, eventually killing them
with the poison in its bite. Phylloxera devastated vineyards in both the US and
Europe in the 1870s, and remains a major problem today.

Pinot Blanc

A light-bodied, fruity white wine made from Pinot
Blanc grapes.

Pinot Noir

A grape variety used to produce either red wines
(particularly Burgundies) or champagne.

Pomace

See marc.

Port

A sweet red wine fortified with distilled spirits.

Powdery mildew

Also known as oidium. A disease of grapevines that
ruins the taste of the grapes and can eventually kill the vine.

Q

Quatsch

(German) Nonsense, rubbish.

R

Richtsfest

(German) Topping-out ceremony, performed when the
roofbeam has been raised during the construction of a new house.

Riesling

A grape variety that produces a light-bodied,
lightly aromatic white wine. Generally produced as a dry wine in Germany and
Alsace, and as a sweet dessert wine in California.

S

Schatz

(German) Endearment– My treasure

Schätzchen

(German) Endearment– My little treasure

[Du] Scheißkerl!

(German) You bastard!

schlumpkapf

Traditional Alsatian woman’s headdress.

schnaps

(German) Any distilled spirit, but most commonly
refers to brandies.

Sylvaner

A tart white wine produced in Alsace.

T

Tante

(German) aunt

tartrate
deposit

Crystals of the tartaric acid naturally found in
wine, which percipitates out during fermentation.

terroir (goût de terroir)

(French) a winemaking theory that the soil types in
a vineyard can affect the flavor of the grapes.

Traminer

Variety of pink-skinned grape that produces a
light-bodied, very fragrant white wine. Traminer was the precursor to the
Gewürztraminer varietal commonly grown today in both Alsace and California.
Generally produced as a dry wine in Germany and Alsace, and as a sweet wine in
California.

V

Vater

(German) father

Verdamter Reifen!

(German) Damned tire!

Verdamtes Fahrzeug

(German) Damned automobile!

W

Wasser

(German) Water

Winstub

(German/Alsatian dialect) A pub or tavern specializing
in wine.

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