Hapless lexicography: Italian Wine Glossary updated and revised (with help from @MaurizioGily)

petrarch bee ape“It may all be summed up by saying with Seneca, and with Flaccus before him, that we must write just as the bees make honey, not keeping the flowers but turning them into a sweetness of our own, blending many very different flavors into one, which shall be unlike them all, and better.” Petrarch to Boccaccio, 1365 (photo snapped in August at the Ca’ del Bosco winery in Franciacorta).

“Such is the fate of hapless lexicography,” wrote the great 19th-century English lexicographer Samuel Johnson in the preface to his 1755 dictionary, “that not only darkness, but light, impedes and distresses it; things may be not only too little, but too much known, to be happily illustrated.”

I’ve been reminded of this all-too-true observation as I continue to expand my Italian wine terms glossary (see the updated and revised version below).

Many have written me expressing their support for the project while others have rightly pointed out oversights and errors.

Like translation, lexicography is an inexact science and I apologize for my inadvertences in the hope that the overarching spirit and intent of my work eclipse my shortcomings. But, alas, I am only human — all too human.

This most recent version includes revisions and notes from my friend Maurizio Gily, one of Italy’s greatest wine writers (imho) and consulting enologists.

Justifiably, he nudged me to revise my entries for giropoggio and ritocchino (see below). There are no precise English renderings of these terms (at least as far as I can find). But I did discover that ritocchino may have Tuscan origins and that it most probably derives from the Italian china (KEE-nah) or slope.

Another revision worth noting was suggested to me by both Maurizio and Finnish winemaker Jarkko Peränen who lives and works in Chianti Classico: alberello, which, as both of them correctly observed, should be rendered head-trained bush vines (see the revised entry below).

Not that it has any bearing here, but my research led me to this wonderful entry in UNESCO’s “intangible cultural heritage” list on the “head-trained bush vines” of Pantelleria (worth checking out).

As I continue to expand, revise, and edit the project, I encourage everyone in our community to offer suggestions, corrections, and observations. It is a work in fieri and its hypertextual nature is what makes it so valuable (for me personally and, I hope, for our community at large).

I only ask you to be gentle in your disapprobation for I am only a man of modest intellectual means who is trying to see through both the darkness and the light.

Post scriptum: a hand-list of sparkling wine terminology is also forthcoming.

a giropoggio vines planted across a slope (along the contour of the slope; compare with a ritocchino)
a ritocchino vines planted up and down a slope (from peak to valley, as it were; compare with a giropoggio)
acciaio [inossidabile] stainless-steel [vat/tank]
acinellatura millerandage [alt.: shot berrieshens and chicks, or pumpkins and peas]
affinamento aging
alberello head-trained bush vines
allegagione fruit set
allevamento training
argilla clay
arresto di fermentazione stuck fermentation
assemblaggio blend
azoto nitrogen
barbatella rooted cutting
barrique barrique [small French oak cask]
bâtonnage stirring on the lees
biodinamica biodynamics/biodynamic
biologico organic
botte traditional large cask
bucce skins
Cabernet [Sauvignon] Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc Cabernet Franc
calcare/calcareo limestone/calcareous [limestone-rich]
capo a frutto fruit cane
cappello sommerso submerged cap maceration
chioma canopy
cordone cordon
cordone speronato cordon-trained spur-pruned [vines]
cru vineyard designation/single vineyard
cuvée blend
délestage rack and return
diraspare/diraspatrice de-stem/de-stemmer
diradamento pruning/thinning grapes/dropping fruit
diserbante termico weed torch/weed flamer
DOC DOC [designation of controlled origin]
DOCG DOCG [designation of controlled and guaranteed origin]
DOP PDO [Protected Designation of Origin]
doppio capovolto double-arched cane [training]
drenaggio drainage
esca esca [alt.: black dead arm or black measles]
escursione termica [diurnal] temperature variation
fermentazione arrestata stuck fermentation
femminella lateral shoot
flavescenza dorata grapevine yellows (flavescence dorée)
follatura punching down
galestro galestro [a marl- and limestone-rich subsoil unique to Tuscany]
giropoggio vines planted across a slope (along the contour of the slope; compare with a ritocchino)
grappa grappa
grappolo cluster/bunch
grappolo spargolo loosely clustered grape bunch
Guyot Guyot
IGP PGI [Protected Geographical Indication]
IGT IGT [typical geographical indication]
leccio holm oak
lievito naturale native/ambient/indigenous/wild yeast
lievito selezionato cultured yeast
limo silt
macchia mediterranea Mediterranean maquis [shrubland]
maestrale (vento di maestrale) north-westerly wind
malolattica malolactic fermentation
marna/marne marl
monovitigno single-grape variety [wine]
mosto must
oidio oidium [powdery mildew]
pedicello pedicel
peduncolo stem (peduncle)
peronospora peronospora [downy mildew]
pied de cuve pied de cuve [native yeast starter]
pigiatura crush/crushing
pirodiserbatore weed torch/weed flamer
pirodiserbo weed torching
portinnesto rootstock
pressa press
pressare to press
quercia oak
rachide rachis
raspo stem
rimontaggio pumping over
ritocchino vines planted up and down a slope (from peak to valley, as it were; compare with a giropoggio)
sabbia/sabbioso sand/sandy [sandy soil]
Sauvignon [Blanc] Sauvignon Blanc
scacchiatura shoot-thinning and disbudding
siccità drought/drought conditions
sistema di allevamento training/trellis system
sottosuolo subsoil
sovescio cover crop/green manure
spargolo (grappolo spargolo) loosely clustered (grape bunch)
sperone spur
spollonatura disbudding and suckering
stralciatura shoot-thinning
stress idrico hydric stress
sulle bucce skin contact [macerated on the skins]
sulle fecce nobili lees aged [aged on its lees]
sur lie lees aged [aged on its lees]
svinatura racking (devatting, drawing off)
terreno/terreni soil
tignola della vite vine moth [Eupoecilia ambiguella]
tralcio shoot/cane
tramoggia hopper/feeder
tufo tufaceous subsoil [porous limestone]
vasca vat/tank
vento di maestrale north-westerly wind
vigna/vigne vine/vineyards
vigneto vineyard
vinaccia/vinacce pomace
vite vine
vitigno grape variety

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