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Unfined Wines, an online natural wine shop serving Los Angeles. Call our WineHotline for recommendations @ 310.721.3476

Popular Natural wine terms

NATURAL WINE:
Also called low intervention wine, minimal intervention wine, raw wine or lofi wine. There is no universal standard, but natural wine is a concept that prioritizes the vineyard and wine-making process. Natural wine is usually:


- Made with minimal to no pesticides and herbicides
- Made with environmental impact in mind, placing importance on how the grapes are grown
- Made with minimal sulfites, there is less additives to preserve the wine. For this to be possible a lot of care goes into the grapes to create a product that needs less intervention
- Made with less additives in the fermentation process – sugar and yeast. Natural wine relies on the yeast that lives on the grape skins as opposed to commercially produced yeast
- Unfined and unfiltered, this means that you may see sediment at the bottom of the bottle or the wine may appear cloudy. However, it also means there was no animal product used to filter or fine the wine. Leaving the wine natural, without the bullshit

Natural wine can also be organic, biodynamic and dry-farmed (definitions below). We also share the category of each of our wines on the product page.

BIODYNAMIC:
This refers to the farming practices of the vineyard. Biodynamic goes a step beyond organic farming to balance the entire vineyard with nature and the cycles of the moon. This method is based on the writings of Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, who believed that the vineyard is one ecosystem that, only when in balance, can grow the best fruit. That means no chemicals to artificially nourish the soil, no pesticides to protect crops and no additives to manipulate taste of wine. Biodynamic farming places importance on what the land can do, not what we can do with it; it focuses on contributing to the land, not exploiting it. The goal is to leave the land in as good, if not better, condition. Tasks in a biodynamic vineyard are regulated by the biodynamic calendar, with certain days for planting, watering, and harvesting.

CARBONIC MACERATION:
Process where uncrushed, whole clusters of grapes go into a sealed container and are topped with carbon dioxide to remove oxygen. This method means the initial fermentation is not caused by yeast like most wine which start with destemmed and crushed grapes.

DRY-FARMING:
Part of the biodynamic farming approach, meaning that there is no reliance on irrigation. Healthy soil will hold in moisture from seasonal rains for months at a time and healthy vines will grow deep enough to draw from that moisture. It is believed that dry-farming leads to high-quality wines – when vines are forced to struggle for what they need, they become more productive, which leads them to produce higher quality fruit. Dry-farming also results in stronger, more resilient vines that can handle climate change better.

GLOU-GLOU:
Wine that is easy to drink, it translates to glug-glug.

NATIVE YEAST:
Also referred to as wild or indigenous yeast. This yeast occurs naturally on the grapes and environment. Yeast is what turns grape sugars into alcohol. Conventional wines usually use yeast that is commercially produced (culivated yeast). This is because the yeast made in a lab can be altered to give off any flavor - easy to manipulate.

ORANGE WINE:
Made by leaving the skins on white grapes during fermentation, that produces not only a different taste, but that beautiful orange color.

ORGANIC FARMING:
Farming without the use of synthetic chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides.

PET-NAT:
Short for petillant natural, it means naturally sparkling in French. This type of wine making predates Champagne and happens when the wine is bottled before fermentation is finished, allowing it to finish in the bottle. It doesn’t undergo a secondary fermentation in the bottle with additional yeasts and sugars like champagne. Since the fermentation is naturally occurring, pet-nats tend to be lighter.

SPONTANEOUS FERMENTATION:
Allowing grape juice to ferment into wine naturally, using wild/native yeast.

SUSTAINABLE FARMING:
Farming that goes beyond organic farming. This is farming that focuses on the mitigation and reduction of wastefulness in winemaking.


GENERAL wine terms


ACIDITY:
The liveliness and crispness in wine. Soft wine is a wine with significantly lower levels of acidity.

AERATION/BREATHING:
Exposing the wine to oxygen to improve its flavors.

APPELLATION:
Legally defined region known to produce wine (ex. Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Loire Valley). In the US, this can be referred to as AVA (American Viticultural Area).

ASTRINGENT:
Tasting term noting the harsh, bitter, and drying sensations in the mouth caused by high levels of tannin.

BALANCE:
When the elements of wine – acids, sugars, tannins, and alcohol – come together in a harmonious way.

BARREL:
The oak container used for fermenting and aging wine.

BITTER:
A sensation on the back of the tongue caused by tannins.

BLEND/CUVÉE:
A wine made from more than one type of grape.

BODY/WEIGHT:
Describes the weight and fullness of wine in the mouth. Wine can be light, medium, or full-bodied (bold).

BRUT:
French term referring to dry champagnes or sparkling wines.

CELLAR:
A temperature and humidity-controlled facility to store wine.

CONVENTIONAL WINE:
Wine that is not considered natural, these are the wines you find on most market shelves. Conventional wine is usually grown with pesticides, machine-picked, made with lab-produced yeast, made with 60+ additives and filtered with animal products.

DRY:
Refers to taste, opposite of sweet.

FILTERING:
When wine finishes fermenting, it is full of floating yeast and sediment, referred to as “cloudy” wine. Most natural wines are left unfiltered. Filtering separates the yeast particles and microbes from the wine before bottling. Conventional wine typically goes through two filtrations which can strip wine of its flavors, aroma and complexity.

FINING:
The addition of products to further clear the wine of unwanted particles. Common fining agents are eggs whites, gelatin, dry fish bladder, bentonite and casein.

FINISH:
The flavor left in your mouth after swallowing wine.

FULL-BODIED:
A wine high in alcohol and flavors, often described as big or bold.

MOUTH-FEEL/TEXTURE:
How a wine feels on the tongue; it can be rough, smooth, velvety, or furry.

OAK/OAKY:
Wine that smells and tastes of vanilla, baking spices, coconut, mocha, or dill caused by barrel-aging.

ROSÉ:
Often referred to as pink wine, Rosé is wine made with red grapes that have contact with the skin for only a short period of time (anywhere from 2 to 24 hours).

SWEET:
Wines with noticeable sugar contents on the nose and in the mouth.

SULFITES:
Used in the winemaking process as a preservative. Helps prevent oxidation and keeps wine fresh. Natural wine usually contains only naturally-occurring sulfites, whereas conventional wine adds sulfites when bottling the wine as well.

TANNINS (TANNIC WINE):
The phenolic compounds in wines that leave a bitter, dry, and puckery feeling in the mouth. Tannin is often confused with "dryness" because tannin imparts a dry feeling in your mouth. Dry, however, is used to denote the level of sweetness in the wine (opposite of sweet). Opposite of smooth wine. Smoother wines have significantly lower levels of tannin.

TARTARIC ACID:
The principal acid in grapes that promotes flavor and aging in wine.

TERROIR:
French word referring to the geographical characteristics unique to a given vineyard.

VINIFICATION:
The process of making wine.

VINTAGE:
The year a wine is bottled—the yield of wine from a vineyard during a single season.