Practical Wine Terms

Antioxidant: Compound that retards oxidation and slows its effects in wine (browning, sherry-like aromas). Sulfur dioxide, SO2, is the most widely used winemaking antioxidant. It also serves as an antimicrobial agent. Carboy: A glass or plastic container that looks like an office water-cooler bottle or a large jug. Carboys usually come in five-gallon volumes and are used for fermenting juice, carrying out secondary fermentations, and for long-term storage. Degrees Brix: The amount of sugar in a wine, usually measured by a hydrometer, which is a floating instrument that determines the density of solution. Based on a system calibrated to the density of water, the pre-fermentation degrees Brix of most table wines are between 22 and 24, meaning 22 to 24 percent sugar (really the percentage of total soluble solids, including unfermentable sugars). Knowing the Brix helps predict the final alcohol percentage, which should be high enough to retard growth of microbial contaminants as well as to provide sensory characteristics. For example a dessert wine (high alcohol and residual sugar) typically starts with must or juice that has 30° to 40°