Macroclimate refers to the climate of a broad wine growing area – say, the whole Chablis AOC. The general climate in an area spanning tens to hundreds of kilometers is considered to be macroclimate. For instance, in the Chablis AOC, the macroclimate is characterized by very hot summers and long, very cold winters.
Literally translated, this French term reads “but yes.” Mais oui is an emphatic way of saying yes.
Malolactic fermentation is a bacteria-facilitated process through which malic acid is converted to softer and gentler lactic acid.
Malic acid is a dicarboxylic acid naturally present in grapes. It gives grapes (and wines) a sour or tart taste comparable to the taste of green apples. Highly malic wines are described harsh, hard or aggressive (although it is not only malic acid that causes harshness in wines but the combination of all acids found in grapes). Winemakers who wish to lower the perceptible acidity of their wines can inoculate them with lactic acid bacteria to initiate malolactic fermentation.
Not all wines benefit from malolactic fermentation, however. Some wines are meant to be tart and crisp, and some wines have very low natural acidity; malolactic fermentation will ruin such wines. Winemakers who don't want their wines to undergo malolactic fermentation have to be really careful about quality control as malolactic fermentation can occur in the bottle.
Malvasia refers to a family of grapes that is originally from the Mediterranean region, particularly Greece. Malvasia vines generally thrive in dry climates and well-drained soils. They are highly productive and must be controlled in order to maintain high quality. Malvasia grapes are used in making various wines and wine styles: white table wines, red table wines, dessert wines, and fortified wines, among others. The Malvasian family is comprised of several specific varieties.
One of the most predominant varieties is Malvasia Bianca, a light-colored Malvasia that is commonly found in Italy. In Sardinia and Sicily, it is used to make aromatic, straw wines (passito wines); the highly regarded passito, the Tuscan Vin Santo, is actually a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca. Malvasia Bianca is also used as a blending grape in the production of Italian dry white wines. Italian Malvasia Bianca wines can be full-bodied or light and can have high or low alcohol content.
Malvasia Istriana is another Malvasian grape. It is used to make sparkling wine in the Colli Piacentini region and varietal white wines in Collio and Isonzo.
Another notable Malvasian grape variety is Malvasia di Bosa. This grape is local to Sardinia, particularly in the province of Nuoro, and it is named after the town of Bosa, the center of Malvasian wine production in the Nuoro province. Malvasia di Bosa wines are typically full-bodied and golden yellow in color.
Another though less well-known white wine grape in the Sardinia region is the Malvasia di Planurgia. Malvasia Nera is another Malvasian grape. Unlike most of the Malvasian grape varieties, this one produces black-skinned berries that add aroma and color to red wine blends. Consequently, it is a major contributor in the Tuscan Chianti and the Puglian Salice Salentino wines. Malvasia Nera varietal wines are also produced in the Italian Piemonte region.
In the region of Lazio, there are four types of Malvasian grapes: Malvasia di Grottaferrata, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia di Lazio, and Malvasia Puntinata. In Sicily, Malvasia delle Lipari is the local Malvasian grape variety used in making dessert wines.
Portugal has a dozen or more grapes known as Malvasia. The most notable Portuguese Malvasian is the white wine grape, Malvasia Candida, mainly associated with Madeira. Madeira produces Malmsey, the renowned sweet Portuguese fortified wine that is predominantly Malvasian. The other Portuguese Malvasian grapes can be found in Douro (among other places); they are Malvasia Corada, Malvasia Fina, Malvasia da Trincheira, and Malvasia Rei, among others.
Marc Antonio is the name of a Primitivo varietal wine produced by Nuschese. It is probably named after the Roman Marc Antonio or Marcus Antonius.
Marc Antonius is notable for three things: he was second cousin to the famous Roman dictator, Gaius Julius Caesar; he was a member of the Second Triumvirate that ruled the Republic of Rome after Gaius Julius Caesar’s death; and he was the lover of Cleopatra VII, the last effective Pharaoh of Egypt. Marc Antonius later waged a war with one of the other Triumvirs, Octavian or Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. Octavian emerged victorious and Marc Antonius killed himself.
Marsanne (Ermitage in Switzerland), is a white wine grape variety that is believed to have originated from the Northern Rhone wine region of France. Although this grape can be found in Switzerland, Australia (particularly Victoria), and the United States (particularly California and Washington State), the highest concentration of Marsanne vines can be found in North Rhone. In fact, it is the only white wine grape variety, apart from Roussanne, that is permitted in the Hermitage, Saint-Peray, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph AOCs of the Northern Rhone region. Savoie is another region in France that grows Marsanne, but Marsanne is known as grosse roussette there.
Marsanne is the most commonly planted white wine grape in the Hermitage AOC and the Saint-Peray AOC. It is blended with Roussanne to make the rich and dry, white Hermitage AOC wine. In Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph AOCs, Marsanne (and/or Roussanne) may be blended with Syrah to make red wine. In the first two appellations, up to 15 % of a white wine variety (or a combination of the two) may be added to Syrah. In Saint-Joseph AOC, only up to 10% of the Marsanne and/or Roussanne may be added to Syrah red wine. Some Northern Rhone winemakers have also tried making Marsanne dessert wines.
Marsanne blended wines are rich and become more complex with age. On the contrary, Marsanne varietal wines are intended for immediate consumption because of Marsanne’s low acidity. In fact, Marsanne grapes are normally harvested before they are fully ripe so that they’ll have higher acidity. The right growing conditions are necessary if varietal aromas are to develop and disease is to be prevented (Marsanne berries are thickly clustered and susceptible to powdery mildew).
conditions. This has contributed to Merlot’s predominance worldwide.
Merlot is one of the world’s most planted grapes. It is grown in France (particularly Bordeaux, Bergerac and Cahors), California, Washington State, Italy (particularly Friuli and Tuscany), Switzerland, Hungary, Croatia, Argentina, and Chile, among others. Around 66% of the world’s Merlot vines, however, can still be found in France, particularly in its native Bordeaux.
In Bordeaux, Merlot is the most planted grape vine, although it is more prominent in Pomerol and Saint Emilion (the Right Bank regions) than in the Left Bank. On the average, Merlot makes up around one-fourth of Bordeaux red wine blends, although Merlot can comprise up to 80% of Bordeaux reds from Pomerol and around 60% of Bordeaux reds from Saint Emilion. The amount of Merlot used depends mainly on soil characteristics, to which Merlot grapes are sensitive. Pomerol’s iron-clay soil, for instance, gives Merlot wines an unusual or uncommon tannic backbone.
Merlot wines have floral and herbal notes (say, Italian Merlots). Merlot wines' aromas vary depending on the soil type and climate of the grapes’ origin. In cool climate Merlots, red fruit aromas predominate. Medium-climate Merlots, on the other hand, have predominantly black fruit aromas. Finally, hot-climate Merlots are characterized by the aromas of chocolate and fruitcake. Keeping climate and soil type constant, Merlot grapes from older vines (and low-crop-yield vines) generally produce better wines.
Merlot is often used in making blended wine. Cabernet Sauvignon is a favorite Merlot blending partner. Merlot grapes generally have lower tannin and acid content as well as higher sugar content than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes; Merlot’s softness and Cabernet Sauvignon’s sharpness are deemed to be perfectly complementary. Merlot varietal wines also exist and they are characteristically soft, fruity and approachable.
Mesoclimate is a term associated with terroir. It refers to the climate characteristics of a specific vineyard site – particularly one that spans from tens up to hundreds of meters in area. The mesoclimate spans a smaller area than the macroclimate. Thus, one can speak of the mesoclimate in the Grand Cru vineyard of Bougros (which is part of the Chablis appellation), but that mesoclimate is still influenced by the macroclimate prevalent in the entire Chablis AOC.
Methode ancestrale is the same as the traditional method of sparkling wine production minus the disgorging process. Since the sediments have not been disgorged and the wine not clarified, expect sparkling wines that say methode ancestrale on the label to be cloudy.
The methode Champenoise or Champagne Method is the name of the winemaking method employed in the Champagne wine region. The methode Champenoise is identical to the traditional method (methode traditionnelle) of making sparkling wine. In fact, these two terms were used interchangeably in the past. After Champagne became a proprietary brand, however, only winemakers from the Champagne wine region may use methode Champenoise.
Methode traditionnelle (traditional method) refers to a specific technique of sparkling wine production. This is the method followed in Champagne and other regions that produce sparkling wines.
In the traditional method, the grapes are harvested and fermented as usual (typically grape varieties are fermented separately). After fermentation, the wines made from different grape varieties (if blended wine is desired) or even from various vintages (for nonvintage wines) are blended into a cuvee or different cuvees. After the desired blend has been achieved (or after primary fermentation if no blending was done), the resulting wine is bottled.
To each bottle of wine is added some yeast and some sugar. The wine in the bottle undergoes secondary fermentation. Carbon dioxide is produced through this process. The wine is allowed to age on lees (the lees or the sediments and deposits resulting from the secondary fermentation are inside the bottle) for a minimum of 1.5 years (minimum of 3 years for prestige cuvees).
After aging on lees, the lees are removed through the process of riddling and disgorging. After disgorging, dosage is done (some sweet syrup is added to the wine); this sweetens the wine and/or balances its high acidity, after which the bottle is corked, sealed and packaged into the finished product.
The methode transversage is a modification of the traditional method of sparkling wine production. Every process in the traditional method – primary fermentation, in-bottle fermentation, riddling, and disgorging – is followed exactly the same way. After the sediments have been disgorged, however, the bottles are all emptied into a large tank. The sparkling wine is then poured into their final bottles, corked, sealed, and packaged.
See Charmat method.
Mezcal is an alcoholic beverage made using the heart of the agave plant. It comes from Mexico, particularly from Oaxaca. This distilled alcoholic beverage is typically drunk straight. It has a distinctly smoky flavor.
In viticulture, microclimate refers to the climate prevalent in a very limited area – say, a row of vines. To illustrate, a vineyard in Bougros (in the Chablis AOC) can have several microclimates (although the vineyard itself probably has only one mesoclimate, which is also under the influence of the Chablis AOC macroclimate).
Minerality or mineral notes may be perceived in wine, but it has no universal definition. There are two general theories regarding wine minerality. There are those who think minerality is transferred directly by the setting or by the vineyard site to the grapes and thus the wines. The more viable explanation, however, is that mineral notes are a result of the action of yeast on grape juice during fermentation.
Mineral notes are a type of aroma. What someone perceives as minerality in wine can simply be the flinty aroma attributable to the presence of a sulfur compound – a possible byproduct of the interaction between the yeast and the grape juice.
Wines that smell of moldy earth have a high concentration of geosmin, which is a result of the metabolism of certain bacteria and molds present in the wine grapes. Moldy-earth smells have also been described as aromas of beetroot and potato peelings.
Familiarize yourself with the moldy-earth fault through the 12 Aroma Wine Faults Kit.
Monkfish is known as the poor man’s lobster because meat from its tail tastes and feels a lot like lobster meat.
Monkfish generally refers to the fish species belonging to the genus Lophius of the family Lophiidae of the order Lophiiformes (anglerfish in layman’s term). Monkfish is characterized by a big, flat head (thus its alternative name of headfish). The tail is the main source of monkfish meat, but the monkfish’s cheeks and liver are also edible.
Monkfish can also refer to the shark species belonging to the genus Squatina of the family Squatinidae of the order Squatiniformes.
Moscato refers to a family of wine grapes. Moscato berries can be light or dark-colored, depending on the actual variety.
There is Muscat Blanc a Petits, the white wine grape also known as Moscato Bianco, which is mainly associated with the Italian DOCG varietal wines produced in Piemonte (Piedmont), Italy: the Asti Spumante and the Moscato d’Asti. Both the Asti Spumante and the Moscato d’Asti are sweet, low-alcohol, white wines made with 100% Moscato Bianco wine grapes, but each is produced using a different winemaking method.
The Black Muscat is another Moscato grape. As the name suggests, Black Muscat bears black-skinned, medium-size berries that are popular as table grapes (popular component of fruit baskets) but are also used in the production of rich, aromatic dessert wines and dry red wines.
There is Muscat Ottonel, originally from the Alsace wine region in France, which bears berries in small and conic loose clusters. This grape is used in making dessert wines in Central and Southeastern Europe (particularly in Austria and Croatia) and Muscat varietal wines (typically of the dry wine style) in Alsace (such Muscat varietal wines can be a blend of permitted Muscat grape varieties).
Muskat Moravsky or Moravian Muscat of the Czech Republic is an offspring of the cross between the Muscat Ottonel and the Prachttraube grape varieties. This early-ripening variety thrives in clay soil. It bears medium to large bunches of round and mid-size golden-yellow berries characterized by their low acid content. Moravian Muscat is commonly used in making dry white wines.
Another Moscato, the Muscat of Alexandria, is a multi-purpose grape variety that bears yellow-colored berries. The Muscat of Alexandria is believed to have come from North Africa, but it can now be found in various parts of the world. It is used in making dessert wines, blended wines, brandy, and homemade wines; it is also a popular table and raisin grape.
Muscat Crocant is another Moscato grape variety, and it is characterized by its round, yellow-green berries. The Muscat Crocant is a rare grape variety that thrives in sandy soil. It is used in making the rare white wine, Muskat Krokan. The Muscat Crocant is exclusively cultivated in Serbia, particularly in Pearl Island. This Moscato wine grape requires great attention from vine growers due to its susceptibility to disease. This plus the distinct varietal characteristics of the Muscat Crocant account for the high price and rarity of Muscat Crocant wines.
Another Moscato is Moscato Giallo, which is believed to be indigenous to the Trentino-Alto Adige. This variety is used to make pale to dark golden wines (off-dry and dry). There are also the Moscatel de Favaios and Moscatel de Setubal grape varieties, the most widely used Moscato grapes in Portugal. The Setubal Moscato grapes are named after the Setubal Peninsula in Portugal and used to make sweet Portuguese white wines (still and fortified), while the Favaios Moscato grape variety is found mainly in Douro and Galego.
Orange Muscat is another Moscato grape variety that is mainly associated with Australia (although it can also be found in California and Oregon). Orange Muscat grapes are mainly used in making sweet dessert wines, but there are also dry Orange Muscat wines. Orange Muscat wines are characterized by the aroma of oranges.
Mourvedre is a wine grape variety commonly used in making red wines and roses. Mourvedre vines bear elongated and conical clusters of highly compact, blue-black, thick-skinned, highly tannic, and highly alcoholic berries. Mourvedre is sensitive to terroir, developing significantly distinctive characteristics depending on soil type. It ripens late and thrives well in coastal areas.
This grape originally came from Spain, where it is known by its Spanish name, Monastrell. From there, it spread to France (where it is also known as Balzac) and became one of the most popular grapes in Provence prior to the phylloxera onslaught that decimated the Mourvedre vine population. Mourvedre also spread to Australia (where it is predominantly known as Mataro) and the USA. Currently, Mourvedre is still one of the most extensively planted red wine grape varieties in Spain particularly in the Spanish DOs of Jumilla and Almansa. It is also a primary red wine component in the Yecla, Valencia and Alicante DOs.
In France, Mourvedre is no longer as popular as it used to be, but it is still one of the mainstays of Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC red wines and Bandol AOC red wines; Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC red wines typically have a Mourvedre or Grenache Noir base, while fifty percent of Bandol blended red wines must be Mourvedre.
In Australia, Mataro is typically blended with Grenache and Syrah to make the so-called GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mataro) wines.
In the context of wines, mouthfeel (also known as texture) is the sensation caused by the interaction between the wine and the mouth.
When evaluating the mouthfeel of wine, wine tasters typically evaluate the sensations perceived upon the wine’s initial contact with the palate until after it has been swallowed (or spat out, in case the wine taster needs to sample a wide variety of wines). Mouthfeel therefore encompasses “in-mouth” as well as aftertaste (also known as the wine’s “finish”) sensations.
Muller-Thurgau is a white wine grape variety named after its creator, Hermann Muller, and the Swiss Canton of Thurgau where Muller was born. Muller created this variety by crossing the wine grape Riesling and the table grape Madeleine Royale. Muller-Thurgau is currently one of the most widely planted wine grapes in Germany. It is also grown in other parts of the world including England, New Zealand, Austria, and Czech Republic.
It owes its popularity to its adaptability. Muller-Thurgau can flourish in various climates and soil types. It is very undemanding, it ripens early and it produces high and regular yields. Muller-Thurgau is usually vinified into white wine. Muller-Thurgau wines generally have low acid content so they are best consumed when young. Overall, they are mild, smooth, fruity, medium-sweet, and slightly aromatic wines that are pleasant on the nose and the palate. They are great for the summertime and pair nicely with cold seafood dishes or spicy cuisine.