Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation and crushing of grapes. The grape juice is placed in open wooden vats, steel tanks, or oak barrels. The natural sugars and yeast in the grape juice interact to create ethanol or alcohol.
Wine is typically labeled and categorized by the type of grape varietal, the wine maker or wine house who makes it, the country and region from which it is grown, and the year it was produced.
Wine is a complex beverage with flavor profiles that can range from strong and dry to light and sweet. Some of the best wines in the world, when stored properly, can last for decades and actually improve with aging in the bottle. Wine has a long and vibrant history with over 10,000 documented grape varietals in the world.
Fast Facts: First Wines: * Caucasia and Mesopotamia, 6000 BC *14th and 16th Centuries: Water shortage makes wine dietary staple of Europe *19th and 20th Centuries: Vineyards of California, Australia, South America and Canada enjoy recognition. Alcohol in wine can vary from 8 to 15 percent. The scientific or Latin name is Vitis vinifera
Most Popular Grape Varietals Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Pinot Noir Zinfandel Syrah Cabernet Franc Malbec Grenache Nebbiolo Sangiovese Tempranillo Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc Chenin Blanc Riesling Gewurztraminer
Top 10 wine producing countries France Italy Spain United States Argentina Australia China South Africa Chile Germany
Classification Regulations govern the classification and sale of wine in many regions of the world. European wines tend to be classified by region (e.g. Bordeaux and Chianti), while non-European wines are most often classified by grape (e.g. Pinot Noir and Merlot). More and more, however, market recognition of particular regions is leading to their increased prominence on non-European wine labels. Examples of non-European recognized locales include Napa Valley in California, Willamette Valley in Oregon, Valley and Hunter Valley in Australia, Central Valley in Chile and Marlborough in New Zealand .
Some blended wine names are marketing terms, and the use of these names is governed by trademark or copyright law rather than by specific wine laws. For example, Meritage (sounds like "heritage") is generally a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and may also include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Commercial use of the term "Meritage" is allowed only via licensing agreements with an organization called the "Meritage Association".
Europe classification France has an appellation system based on the concept of terroir, with classifications which range from Vin de Table ("table wine") at the bottom, through Vin de Pays and Vin D é limit é de Qualit é Sup é rieure (VDQS) up to Appellation d'Origine Contrôl é (AOC). Portugal has something similar and, in fact, pioneered this technique back in 1756 with a royal charter which created the "Demarcated Douro Region" and regulated wine production and trade. Germany did likewise in 2002, although their system has not yet achieved the authority of those of the other countries'. Spain and Italy have classifications which are based on a dual system of region of origin and quality of product. Outside of Europe New World wine — wines from outside of the traditional wine growing regions of Europe tend to be classified by grape rather than by terroir or region of origin, although there have been non-official attempts to classify them by quality
Wine tasting Is the sensory examination and evaluation of wine. Wines are made up of chemical compounds which are similar or identical to those in fruits, vegetables, and spices. The sweetness of wine is determined by the amount of residual sugar in the wine after fermentation, relative to the acidity present in the wine. Dry wine, for example, has only a small amount of residual sugar. Inexperienced wine drinkers often tend to mistake the taste of ripe fruit for sweetness when, in fact, the wine in question is very dry. Individual flavors may also be detected, due to the complex mix of organic molecules such as esters and terpenes that grape juice and wine can contain. Tasters often can distinguish between flavors characteristic of a specific grape (e.g., Chianti and sour cherry) and flavors that result from other factors in wine making, either intentional or not. The most typical intentional flavor elements in wine are those that are imparted by aging in oak casks; chocolate, vanilla, or coffee almost always come from the oak and not the grape itself. Banana flavors ( isoamyl acetate ) are the product of yeast metabolism, as are spoilage aromas such as sweaty, barnyard, band-aid ( 4-ethylphenol and 4-ethylguaiacol ), and rotten egg ( hydrogen sulfide ). Some varietals can also have a mineral flavor, because some salts are soluble in water (like limestone), and are absorbed by the wine. Wine aroma comes from volatile compounds in the wine that are released into the air.Vaporization of these compounds can be sped up by twirling the wine glass or serving the wine at room temperature. For red wines that are already highly aromatic, like Chinon and Beaujolais , many people prefer them chilled.
A " vintage wine " is one made from grapes that were all or mostly grown in a particular year, and labeled as such. Most countries allow a vintage wine to include a portion that is not from the labeled vintage. Variations in a wine's character from year to year can include subtle differences in color, palate, nose, body and development. High-quality red table wines can improve in flavor with age if properly stored.Consequently, it is not uncommon for wine enthusiasts and traders to save bottles of an especially good vintage wine for future consumption. In the United States, for a wine to be vintage dated and labeled with a country of origin or American Viticultural Area (AVA) (such as "Sonoma Valley"), it must contain at least 95% of its volume from grapes harvested in that year. If a wine is not labeled with a country of origin or AVA the percentage requirement is lowered to 85%. Vintage wines are generally bottled in a single batch so that each bottle will have a similar taste. Climate can have a big impact on the character of a wine to the extent that different vintages from the same vineyard can vary dramatically in flavor and quality. Non-vintage wines can be blended from more than one vintage for consistency, a process which allows wine makers to keep a reliable market image and maintain sales even in bad years. One recent study suggests that for normal drinkers, vintage year may not be as significant to perceived wine quality as currently thought, although wine connoisseurs continue to place great importance on it.
Packaging Most wines are sold in glass bottles and are sealed using corks. An increasing number of wine producers have been using alternative closures such as screwcaps or synthetic plastic"corks". In addition to being less expensive, alternative closures prevent cork taint, although they have been blamed for other problems such as excessive reduction. Storage Wine cellars , or wine rooms if they are above-ground, are places designed specifically for the storage and aging of wine. In an active wine cellar, temperature and humidity are maintained by a climate control system. Passive wine cellars are not climate-controlled, and so must be carefully located. Wine is a natural, perishable food product; when exposed to heat, light, vibration or fluctuations in temperature and humidity, all types of wine, including red, white, sparkling, and fortified, can spoil. When properly stored, wines can maintain their quality and in some cases improve in aroma, flavor, and complexity as they age. Consensus among wine experts is that the optimal temperature for aging wine is 55 °F(12.8 °C).