- Mediterranean climate: A climatic condition in which the summers are normally dry, warm to hot and sunny whereas winters are mild with the maximum rainfall taking place during this time of the year. In grape growing terms, Mediterranean climate is prized for its reliable growing season characterized by plenty of sunshine and heat. The lack of humidity is also helpful to prevent fungal diseases. On the negative side, the vines may be stressed due to the lack of moisture necessitating irrigation. The must-weight (see below) can also precariously increase in this heat for light table wines although the condition suits perfectly for the production of dessert and ‘fortified wines’.
Mesoclimate:A term which refers to the climate of a particular grape-growing site, which can be as broad as a village (commune in French), clusters of vineyards on a slope or as specific as a particular vineyard site or a part of a large vineyard. It is an intermediate scale between macroclimate (see above) and ‘microclimate’.
- Micro-oxygenation: Is a winemaking technique that allows small, precise and controlled amount of oxygen to come in contact with the wine. Although the process has various implications depending on the stage of the vinification, it is a particularly effective method to soften red wines with high and aggressive ‘tannins’. A controlled amount of oxygen assists in the polymerization (binding) of these harsh ‘phenolics’ thereby mellowing them. Micro-oxygenation also helps in stabilizing the color in red wines by assisting in the polymerization of ‘anthocyanins’ and tannins. Other benefits include propagation of a healthy yeast population to avoid a ‘stuck fermentation’ and also to reduce any off flavors produced due to the lack of enough oxygen during fermentation.
- Microclimate: Precisely, microclimate refers to the climatic conditions surrounding the immediate vicinity of the vines. A very fine grained description, it encompasses the conditions within the vine canopy including, but not limited to grape bunches, leaves, shoots, the soil temperature and so on. It is an extremely important tool that dictates various vineyard practices with an aim to match the vine’s performance to the local conditions.
- Malolactic fermentation: Simply put, a winemaking process to reduce the harshness of a wine due to the presence of natural acids in the wine. It is also thought to impart added mouthfeel (see below) to the wine. The actual process involves the conversion of strong malic acid to the softer lactic acid through the action of lactic acid bacteria. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Malo’ in wine jargon.
- Mouthfeel: A broad term used to denote a wine’s taste sensations in the mouth. More technically, it is the interaction of the wine’s components with the receptors in human mouth that determine the taste of a particular food or drink. There are numerous perceptions that may be included when mentioning mouthfeel, like ‘smooth’ ‘light’, ‘heavy’, ‘dense’, ‘viscous’, ‘grainy’ and so on.
- Must: Is the grape juice containing the solid matters of the fruit after crushing; skins, seeds and stems (if allowed to stay in the juice).
- Must weight: Is the measure of grape ripeness in terms of the amount of dissolved fermentable sugars which will decide the ‘potential alcohol’ of a wine. Various units are used to measure the must weight of grapes but Brix, Baume and Oeschle are the most common.
- Mutage: Is a winemaking process to artificially stop or prevent the alcoholic fermentation of grape juice or ‘must’ which results in a wine with high levels of natural grape sugar. It involves creating an inhospitable environment for the yeasts, either by the addition of grape spirits or less commonly, sulfur dioxide.
When mutage is carried out before the start or after a short period of fermentation, it results in a wine often referred to as ‘vin doux naturel’. ‘Fortified wines’ like port are produced when the fermentation is stopped by mutage during fermentation.