Vins de France: Home

Glossary

V.D.L.
Fortified wine; a sweet wine obtained by adding alcohol to fresh grape juice (Pineau des Charentes). See MISTELLE.
V.D.N.
Vin Doux Naturel, a designation reserved for AOC wines obtained by mutage, meaning stopping fermentation by adding vinic alcohol. VDNs are generally produced on sunny, dry nutrient-poor soils. The vineyards have low yields and produce musts that are very high in sugar, with at least 252 grams per liter. The addition of alcohol, which amounts to 5-10% of the volume of the must, stops primary fermentation by inhibiting the action of the yeasts. This allows the wine to retain some sugars. VDSs are at least 15% alcohol by volume. Residual sugar levels are higher than 50 grams per liter, and for Muscats, higher than 125 grams per liter. About 98% of French VDNs are produced on the Mediterranean coastline, and can be divided into two general types. For the first, the Muscats, the aromas of the grapes must be retained and protected from oxidation. They are thus bottled very rapidly and should be consumed young. However, the Rivesaltes, Banyuls, and Maury VDNs do not reach their full potential until after an aging period during which oxidation plays a key role in developing their bouquets. Most of these wines are stored in containers that allow contact with the air, such as oak barrels or vats that are not topped off. As a result, they acquire an amber hue and a complex bouquet including aromas of cocoa, coffee and prune. These wines can be cellared for long periods of time.
V.D.P
Vins de Pays (VDP) are table wines that are associated with a specific geographic area. A VDP must come exclusively from the production zone identified in its name. VDPs are also subject to strict production requirements established by law including maximum yields, minimum alcohol content, authorized varieties and analysis standards. There are three different categories of Vin de Pays. They can be established based on their département, by defined geographic area, or by region. They are subject to a specific quality testing, including analysis and an organoleptic evaluation. They are officially approved by ONIVINS (Office National Interprofessionnel des Vins).
V.D.Q.S.
Production of these wines is strictly regulated and controlled by INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine). These regulations require the wine bottles to bear a label issued by the applicable winegrowing union. VDQS wines must meet a certain number of production requirements that are established by law, including designated production areas, varieties used, minimum alcohol content, maximum yields, cultivation techniques, analysis standards and an organoleptic evaluation. VDQS is an intermediate category between Vin de Pays and AOC.
V.Q.P.R.D.
Vin de Qualité Produit dans une Région Déterminée (Quality wine produced in a specific region). Under European Union regulations, these are differentiated from table wines and include the French AOC and AOVDQS designations.
VARIETY
Type of grapevine planted. There are innumerable varieties created by natural selection. Winemakers have chosen to favor a select few, and these now represent 80% of today’s vineyards. The grape varieties used in France are strictly regulated. The varieties included in AOCs are divided into two categories: primary varieties and secondary varieties. AOC regulations set forth specific proportions for each variety, or even require that only a single variety be used, as is the case with Pinot Noir for Burgundy reds. For Vins de Pays, which are also produced with specified varieties, there are lists of primary varieties and secondary varieties that have been established by law.
VEGETAL
Said of a wine’s bouquet or aromas that are reminiscent of grass or vegetation.
VEILED
Said of a slightly cloudy wine.
VENISON
Element of a wine’s bouquet that evokes large wild game.
VÉRAISON
French term for the point in the ripening process when the grapes change color from green to red or greenish-white (white varieties). This change in the hormones of the grapevine initiates the ripening process.
VERMENTINO
White grape that is known as Rolle in Provence and as Malvoisie in Corsica.
VILLAGE
Term used in certain regions to identify a particular section of a larger appellation (Beaujolais, Côtes-du-Rhône, Anjou, and Burgundy).
VIN DE PAILLE
This is a naturally sweet wine, not to be confused with a Vin Doux Naturel or Natural Sweet Wine, that is made from overripe grapes. After the harvest the grapes are either spread on a bed of straw or on wicker racks or hung in a clean area and dried for at least three months. As the water evaporates, the other components in the grapes become concentrated. After a very slow fermentation process, a wine with an alcohol content of 14-17% and high residual sugars is obtained. The total alcohol by volume must be at least 18%. It is then barrel aged for three to four years. Vin de Paille has very low yields, as it requires 100 kg of grapes to produce 18 liters of wine. It is produced almost exclusively in the Jura region, but there is a small amount made in the Northern Rhone in Hermitage and Condrieu.
VINE SHOOT
The grapevines growth for a particular year that is pruned during the winter.
VINE STOCK
Base of the grapevine.
VINEYARD MANAGEMENT
All of the factors that determine the appearance of the grapevines and the potential quality of the grapes. These include the vine stock density (number planted per hectare), pruning techniques, tying, and other cultivation techniques. The methods used depend heavily on the variety, the climate and the intended use. For appellations, laws are passed regulating the production methods used. They vary according to the different regions. For example, they are often drastically pruned in Languedoc as that makes them more resistant to the dry climate and violent winds. In Bordeaux, the varieties used call for a long vine length, which requires tying off.
VINTAGE
Year in which a wine is harvested.
VIOGNIER
A white variety cultivated in the Rhone Valley that produces a distinguished, delicate wine. It offers aromas of apricot, peach and white flowers and is full and slightly acidic on the palate.
VITIS VINIFERA
Scientific name for winegrowing grapevines.
VOLATILE ACIDITY
All acetic, formic, and carbonic acids produced during the fermentation process. These are essential for the development of a wine’s bouquet and structure and for its evolution over time. Their levels in wine should be limited, so an excess of volatile acidity in wines is considered a defect and renders them unsaleable.
VOLUME
Characteristic of a wine that makes it seem full on the palate.

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