Wine is a beverage created by expressing the juice from grapes, or a variety of other fruits, and fermenting the liquid to create an alcoholic beverage known by people in just about any region around the world. Not only is it one of the most recognizable beverages available, but its history is as vast as its many varieties and flavors on the market today.
Early wine production can be traced back thousands of years. In fact, archeological evidence suggests that the drink can actually be dated as far back as 6000 BC.
The evidence also points to the first grapevine domestication during the Early Bronze Age.
Wine has been consumed by people all over the world for centuries. With the popularity of wine also came the desire to create as many technological advances as possible to ensure that the process not only becomes easier, but could create the best tasting wine available.
Today, wine is still a much loved beverage throughout the world. There are so many types, flavors, and brands to choose from, it could quite possibly take a lifetime to try them all.
In addition, the wine-making process has become easier, so much so that just about anyone with the right equipment and know-how can create their own version at home.
The grape is obviously the most important part of the wine making process. Its skin contains the pigment used for coloring the wine, in addition to the acids, compounds, and tannins that give the wine its taste and aroma. The grape’s pulp consists of the majority of its liquid.
The type of wine produced depends on the type of grape used and when it is picked. For example, if you want to create a delicate white variety, such as a Chardonnay, the grapes are picked at night because that is when they have the highest acid content. Red wines don’t require such care because it is the grape skins that offer the needed acid.
There are two stages used to create wine. The free run, or the first press, uses the inside of the pulp. The liquid is easiest to press and is also the clearest. Heavier pressure, which is determined by the vintner, is used to extract the juice from the skin during the second press.
The fermentation process is different for red and white wines. When created white wine, the clear juice is fermented without the juice extracted from the skin. Red wine does not require the juices from the two pressings to be separated. Instead, both are mixed together during the fermentation process to create a heartier, more robust flavor.
When fermenting wine, yeast is added to consume the sugar and convert it into carbon dioxide an alcohol, as well as liberate the juice’s molecules to bring out the best flavors.
Either a stainless steel tank or an oak barrel can be used to hold the fermenting liquid. The stable temperatures in the stainless steel tanks are perfect for producing a clean, crisp white wine, while oak barrels contribute additional tannins to give a wine more complex, fuller-bodied flavor.
Red wine is fermented at temperatures ranging from 65 to 80 degrees for between 4 and 14 days. White wine requires a lower temperature of 60 degrees and is left to ferment anywhere between 4 and 6 weeks.
To produce a sweet wine, the fermentation process is halted before the yeast is able to consume all the sugar. A vintner may also wait until the fermentation process is complete before he or she adds sweet juice to give the wine a sweeter flavor.