SACY A white grape variety that is cultivated in Yonne and Allier that produces a very fresh, dry wine.
SAIGNÉE Rosé de saignée. A rosé produced from red grapes that undergo a short maceration so that the wine acquires some of the pigments, but no tannins. These rosés are more powerful than the rosés de pressurage, which are rosés produced from red grapes using the production method for white wines.
SALMANAZAR Giant bottle containing the equivalent of twelve normal 750 ml bottles.
SAUVIGNON BLANC A white variety cultivated in many regions, but especially used in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux and in the Vins de Pays from the south of France. These are delicate wines, lively but still soft, with typical aromas of grapefruit, boxwood and crushed blackberry leaf.
SAVAGNIN A grape variety grown in the Jura region that is used to produce the renowned Vin Jaune. Pink varieties are grown in Alsace (klevner and gewürztraminer).
SCIACARELLO Red variety cultivated in Corsica that yields a fleshy, fruity wine
SECONDARY FERMENTATION Name of the second bottle fermentation for sparkling wines that produces the carbon dioxide to carbonate the wines.
SEEPING Said of a bottle in which the cork is leaking wine. This is sometimes due to an overly dry cellar that causes the cork to shrink, or high heat that causes the wine to expand.
SÉLECTION DE GRAINS NOBLES Specific designation, meaning “selection of noble berries” that can be added to the Alsace and Alsace Grand Cru appellations made from Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Tokay-Pinot Gris and Muscat when these grapes meet strict production requirements. The extremely high concentration of sugar that is required (256 grams per liter for Riesling and Muscat and 279 for Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris) is obtained by over ripening the grapes so that they can be infected by noble rot. Harvesting must be carried out in multiple passes to ensure that only the infected grapes are collected.
SÉMILLON Late ripening white variety that is cultivated in Bordeaux and produces fine sweet wines, among others. It is highly susceptible to noble rot and offers great smoothness as well as aromas of stone fruit, pear and honey. It is also less acidic than Sauvignon Blanc, and the two are often blended.
SENSORY ANALYSIS Technical name for critical tasting to determine a wine’s qualities and defects. It is based on both scientific information that explains the origin of a wine’s aromas and flavors, and also a highly developed sense of smell that can detect aromas at the lowest possible threshold.
SEVERE Said of a wine that is hard and lacks a bouquet.
SHARPNESS High acidity accompanied by a vinegar-like odor. This sour odor is a serious defect in wine, indicating that undesirable bacterial activity has occurred.
SHORT Said of a wine that does not leave a lasting sensation on the palate after tasting, often called a wine with a short finish. (1 to 2 Caudalies. See CAUDALIE)
SILKY Said of a supple, soft, smooth wine with delicate, velvety tannins.
SKIN CONTACT A stage of white wine production that consists of letting the grapes sit in an oxygen-free environment at low temperatures before to free the primary aromas from the skins. Normal fermentation follows.
SMOKY An odor similar to that of smoked foods that is characteristic of a few varieties, including Sauvignon Blanc, which is known as Fumé Blanc in the Loire Valley.
SMOOTHNESS The pleasant sensation of softness and richness offered by a wine, which is unrelated to its sugar content. However, a wine’s smoothness can make it seem softer and sweeter.
SOLID Said of a wine that is well constructed with good structure.
SPARKLING Said of a wine that releases carbon dioxide bubbles. These are produced primarily in Champagne and other sparkling wine AOCs. Vins Mousseux (rather then Vins Effervescents) refers to non-AOC sparkling wines.
SPARKLING WINE Wine which constantly releases carbon dioxide in the form of small bubbles that burst on the wine’s surface. In French sparkling wine can be called vin mousseux or vin effervescent.
SPICY Said of a wine with aromas of spices such as pepper, cinnamon, cardamom.
SPOILED Descriptor for a wine with acetic spoilage, a disease that results in a pronounced sour smell.
SPRITZY Said of a wine that contains a very small amount of carbon dioxide, much less than a sparkling wine. In the France, the progression from most to least sparkling is mousseux (or effervescent), then pétillant (equivalent to the Italian frizzante) and finally perlent (spritzy).
STABILIZATION A series of treatments designed to ensure that the wine ages well.
STALE Said of a wine that is past its prime and has lost all or part of its bouquet due to oxidation.
STALK The parts of the stalk that support the grape. These render the wine highly astringent if not removed before pressing.
STAMPING Marking corks, barrels or casks using a branding iron.
STILL Still wine, as opposed to a sparkling wine.
STOMPING Also called treading, this means of crushing grapes came from the era when the feet were the tool of choice to perform this operation.
STRAIGHTFORWARD Said of a wine or one of its elements (color, bouquet, aromas) that lack both defects and ambiguity.
STRIPPING Synonym for DESTEMMING
STRONG Said of a wine that tastes high in alcohol.
STRUCTURE Refers to the structure and the overall constitution of a wine.
SUBSTANTIAL Said of a full-bodied wine that has substance.
SULFITE TREATMENT Introduction of a sulfur solution into a must or wine to prevent bacterial infections or promote yeasts that destroy bacteria before primary fermentation. The amount of sulfur used depends on the health and quality of the harvest. Today the use of SO2 is carefully controlled to levels even below the authorized thresholds.
SUPPLE Said of a highly approachable wine in which the smoothness overcomes the astringency.
SWEET WINES White wines that are naturally high in sugar, produced from overripe grapes whose sugars were concentrated by water evaporation. This concentration occurs through a natural mechanism like noble rot, a fungus that is welcomed in Sauternes, or through human intervention. This can include passerillage, which consists of drying the grapes in a humidity-free, well-ventilated environment, or ice wines in which the ice is separated from the overripe grapes during pressing (cold climates).
SYLVANER A white variety grown in Alsace that generally produces a very pleasant fruity white wine.
SYRAH A red variety that is experiencing rapid growth in the Côtes du Rhône and in Midi. It produces a deeply colored, astringent red wine with aromas of violet, pepper, blackberry and blueberry. It has powerful tannins, but they are smooth and velvety, which allows Syrahs to age gracefully.