Winemaking Terms You Should Know: Part 8

IsinglassIn several earlier posts, we introduced a few home winemaking 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.

  • Isinglass:  Isinglass is a commonly used fining agent in winemaking, and originates from gelatin isolated from fish. As long as you aren’t trying to make vegan wine, Isinglass is an animal protein-based clarifier that has been used over and over again in the wine industry, both in commercial and home winemaking settings.  It is argued by many winemakers to have a more gentle effect on the color of your wine, thus ideal for white or lightly colored rosé wines.
  • Beaujolais:  Beaujolais is a wine making region in France located south of Burgundy.  Wines made in this region are referred to as “Beaujolais”, and not referred to by the grapes that make up the blend (as is the case in all of France and other parts of Europe).  Even though this name refers to a region in France, you can still create your own Beaujolais-style wine in your very own home, no matter where you are in the world.  Beaujolais wines tend to be fresh and fruity wines, made up primarily of the Gamay grape.  Thus, a Beaujolais-style wine would be something made in a very similar manner.
  • Jammy:  Though you sometimes think of jam when you imagine a ripe, plump grape, that’s not what we’re going for with this winemaking term.  “Jammy” is a sensory quality or taste of a wine that is reminiscent of baked, cooked, or stewed fruit.  You tend to run into “jammy” wines in regions where the climate is much too warm for the particular grape variety that is being grown.  “Jammy” is typically a negative tasting term, though in all honesty, if you like your wines “Jammy”, then make them as “Jammy” as you darn well please and enjoy it!
  • MW:  Why do some people have an MW after their names?  Well, just like M.A., M.S., M.D., J.D., or Ph.D., etc, M.W. stands for someone who has successfully completed a particular educational program and the rigorous tests required of them.  In this case, MW stands for “Master of Wine”.  It is an extremely difficult qualification to attain, and is only held by a few hundred people throughout the entire world.  If you see MW after someone’s name, it indicates they know nearly everything there is to know about wine, and passed the insanely difficult tests to prove it.

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.