Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
Subscribe to RSS
Back to Cheers To You

Posts Tagged ‘Brix’

Weekly wine defined: Harvest Terms

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Since the end of harvest is upon us we decided this week to define some of the most commonly used terms during this busy time of year. Below is a collection of words often thrown around during harvest season.

Brix: The term is used to measure the amount of sugar in wine. You may have noticed this term in winemaker notes, or on the labels of some wines, saying grapes used were harvested at (insert number here)-degree Brix. Winemakers care about the degree Brix of grapes because they want to harvest the crop when the fruit is at its peak — the sugars are in balance with the acids. Knowing the sugar levels of a grape helps the winemaker during the fermentation process (remember yeast eats sugar, which makes alcohol).

Crush: This is the term used to describe what happens after the grapes are picked, when they make their way back to the wineries and volunteers and employees get to work “crushing” the grapes and turning the fruit into juice which is later fermented into wine.

De-stemmer: this is the machine that does the crushing of the grapes, releasing the juice while separating the fruit from the grape stems.

Harvest: While technically the term used for the process of picking the grapes from the vine, harvest also translates to vintage. The year the grapes are harvested is the vintage of the wine — for example a red wine with 2007 on the label means the grapes were picked and crushed in 2007.  If there’s no vintage on a label then it means the contents of the bottle are made up of wines harvested from different years.

Lugs: This is the term used to describe the large containers, or vats, that hold the grapes after they’re cut from the vine. The grapes are then transported to the winery for crushing.

pH: Knowing the pH of a grape is very important to winemaking. That’s because it’s the measurement used to determine the strength of acidity in a wine. Typically most wines have a pH balance ranging from 2.9 to 3.9. Wines with a lower pH tend to have higher acidity.

Pomace:This is the solid remains of grapes after they are pressed. It contains the skins, pulp, seeds and any stems that made it through the de-stemmer. Often winemakers will use these leftovers as fertilizer, or pass it along to a farmer for the same use if they don’t plan to use it on their property.


Weekly wine defined: Brix

Monday, March 28th, 2011

This week we’re defining Brix, which also happens to be part of the name one of my favorite restaurants in Gig Harbor — Brix 25˚.

If you Google the term Brix, you quickly see the Gig Harbor restaurant isn’t the only place capitalizing on this wine term. Cafes, bars, restaurants and cellars from Tacoma to Boston pop up in the search window.

So what does this mean? And how is it pronounced? (Think “bricks”, like what’s used to pave walkways or construct buildings).

The term is used to measure the amount of sugar in wine. You may have noticed this term in winemaker notes, or on the labels of some wines, saying grapes used were harvested at (insert number here)-degree Brix.

Winemakers care about the degree Brix of grapes because they want to harvest the crop when the fruit is at its peak — the sugars are in balance with the acids. Knowing the sugar levels of a grape helps the winemaker during the fermentation process (remember yeast eats sugar, which makes alcohol).

It’s a term also used by the starch and sugar manufacturing industry to measure the sugars in fruits, vegetables, juices and soft drinks.

When it comes to wine, each degree Brix (often written using the symbol: °Bx) is equal to about 1 gram of sugar per 100 grams of the juice produced. Typically wines that could be defined as table variety have a Brix reading between 20 and 25 degrees at harvest. More than half of this sugar is converted to alcohol during the fermentation process.

You’ll often see degrees Brix referenced with dessert wine, which signals its sweetness. For example, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Eroica (one of its lines of dessert wines produced with German winemaker Ernst Loosen) lists the degree Brix on its wine fact sheet.

For the 2006 Eroica Riesling Ice Wine, the grapes were harvested at 36.7˚ Brix. The wine has an alcohol content of 7.5 percent, and residual sugar of 26.1 g/100ml.

The 2006 Eroica Single Berry Select has an even higher harvested brix at 51.9˚ and 41g/100ml of residual sugar. Its alcohol content is 7.1 percent.


Archives: Cheers to You