Wine Making Terms You should Know: Part 4

Wine Making TermsIn several earlier posts, we introduced a few home wine making terms that you may or may not be familiar with.  There are many terms to learn in home winemaking, and this post, like all the previous posts, gives you a short introduction to a few of those terms to help you get started in home winemaking, or perhaps brush up on some of the terms you may not have seen in a while.

  • PVPP: PVPP isn’t actually a word, but what it stands for certainly is! PVPP is short for polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (say that three times fast).  PVPP is a common fining agent used in winemaking, and is specifically used in white winemaking for the removal of compounds that contribute to the premature browning of the white wine.  Interestingly, the parent compound of PVPP (which is PVP; polyvinylpyrrolidone) has pharmaceutical drug applications in humans.
  • Ullage: Ullage is a fancy term for “headspace” in winemaking that was originally derived from the French word “ouillage”.  This headspace term applies to all situations in winemaking, including in the barrel, in the tank, or in the wine bottle.  The term ‘ullage’ is also often used when describing the act of topping off a barrel with more wine in order to combat the damaging effects of oxidation caused by too much oxygen contact and headspace in the barrel.
  • Chaptalization: Chaptalization in winemaking refers to the process of adding sugar to the wine must in order to increase the alcohol content of the finished wine.  Since yeast consume sugar and convert that to alcohol (and carbon dioxide), the more sugar you start with, the greater the alcohol level in the finished wine has the potential to become.  The Chaptalization process is actually illegal in some regions, so before you practice this method, take a look at the rules for your wine region if you plan on selling your product.
  • Gelatin: Gelatin is used as a fining agent in winemaking.  Specifically, gelatin acts to remove excess concentrations of tannins in the wine, as well as other negatively charged phenolic compounds that are in excess in your wine.  Gelatin is derived from collagen obtained from animal by-products, so if you’re attempting to make vegan wine, you may wish to look for other fining agents that are plant in origin.
  • Liqueur de tirage: This is probably a term you won’t run into too much as a home winemaker, but if you ever decide to make sparkling wine, you’ll need to become familiar with it quickly!  Liqueur de tirage is defined as the solution containing yeasts and sugar that is used to start the secondary fermentation process of sparkling winemaking.  Without liqueur de tirage, you’ll have a hard time getting bubbles!

Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.