Wine Knowledge – The Wine is an alcoholic drink produced from grapes through fermentation. Yeast ( single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus kingdom ) converts the sugar in the grapes into Ethanol, Carbon Dioxide, and heat. The difference in every wine comes from the grapes used, the soil where the grapes were grown, the fermentation process (yeast used), and the production process.
The earliest evidence of wine production is from 6000 BC!
Nowadays the biggest producers of wine are Italy, Spain, France, and the USA!
Part 1: Red Wine:
– red wine is produced from red grapes as the color of the wine comes from the skin of the grape! Depending on the grapes used and the technique of producing the wine the color could be from violet, through red, to brown for very old, aged wines!
Wine Knowledge: Winemaking process
Harvesting the grapes
the year the grapes are cut is the year that will be written on the wine bottle
Destemming and crushing
the grapes are brought into the winery and the first thing is to make sure there are no stems or leaves in the mix! Their presence may lead to bitterness in the wine. After that the grapes are crushed to produce the must!
the must is moved to fermentation vessel (could be wood, stainless steel or concrete) and the yeast in the grapes starts to produce alcohol from the sugar in the must! Many producers prefer to insert specially selected Yeast, they believe it helps for a better wine product! Several hundred different strains of wine yeast are available commercially
Pumping over and temperature control
in order to reach the desired color of the wine the winemakers will have to make sure the skin of the grapes is in constant contact with the juice! We could use several different techniques to accomplish that. Also important is to control the temperature of the must during fermentation. If the temperature goes over 40*C it could kill the yeast and impair the wine. Cooler temperatures (25 -28*C) are used to produce fruitier wines and higher temperatures (28-35*C) are used for heavy tannin wines designed for aging!
separating the juice from the must. There are different types of presses but the process is to separate the juice from the skin and the seeds.
– the next procedure is to racked the wine from the dead yeast and other hard particles and to add sulfur dioxide preservative to avoid oxidation and bacterial spoilage.
for the aging the wineries are using stainless-steel or concrete tanks, or in small or large oak barrels. It could be for just a few days before bottling or for more than 2 years! See how to open bottles of aged red wines here
Filtration and bottling
the yeast and anything else that might still be in the juice is filtered. The filtered wine goes in the bottles and some bottles age for a few more months or years before they could be sold!
Wine Knowledge: Grapes that produce the most important red wines:
is a French grape and it is the most popular and most famous red wine grape in the world! It originated in Bordeaux, France and till today some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines are produced there. Great CS come also from the USA (Napa Valley), Australia and South Africa. CS is also a main component in many world-class blends! The CS wine is usually dark red in color with medium acidity and strong tannin! They often have notes of blackcurrant and spices!
is most closely associated with the Burgundy wine region in France. There PN produces some of the most famous and expensive wines in the world! It is a very difficult grape to grow. The soil and the weather of the region influence strongly the test of the wines. Some of the most important wine regions for PN are in France, the USA (Sonoma Valley), Italy, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and others. Pinot Noir wines are very popular as young, light and fruity as well as aged and full-bodied!
is another red wine grape variety that is historically connected with the Bordeaux region in France! It produces some of the most expensive and exquisite wines in the world! It has more body and less tannin than Cabernet Sauvignon therefore both grapes are often mixed. Merlo is also very popular in Italy, the USA and Chile.
is the most popular grape in Italy. We are putting it immediately after Merlot because of the significance of the wines it produces! Its home is Tuscany but you can find it pretty much all over Italy! Sangiovese is the main or the sole component of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and some of the Super Tuscans wines. Sangiovese could age in barrique for some really heavy, full-body wines!
Syrah (or Shiraz)
is originally from France. The has become one of the most popular red wines in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile! It is also produced in European countries such as Austria, Germany, and Italy.
is a Spanish red wine grape. It is the main wine in Ribera del Duero and Rioja! The two best-known wine regions in Spain. It is Spain’s noble wine. It has some really distinctive flavors like cherries, plums, berries, vanilla and tobacco! Tempranillo wines are great if aged in barriques for more deep, complex test!
-another wine that originated in France and later became more popular in the New World! Argentina now days produces the most and the best Malbec wines in the world. Lately, it is getting really popular in Chile as well.
Grenache or Garnacha
is one of the most popular red wine grapes in the world. The best wines are coming from France and Spain.
There are thousand more red wine grapes that produce amazing wines all over the world unfortunately, we cannot cover them in this lesson! For more info and literature check the links below!
Famous wine regions in the world and their wines:
-the top three countries in the world (France, Italy, and Spain) produce almost 50% of all the wines in the world!
Burgundy – produces the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Bordeaux – the famous Bordeaux Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
The Rhone Valley – Grenache, Syrah, Viognier
The Loire Valley – home of the Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, both 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Provence – mostly known for producing rose wines
Alsace – Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer
Tuscany – the most renowned wine region in Italy. Split into many small regions, Tuscany is home of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Tignanello, Sassicaia, Masseto, Ornellaia and many others.
Piedmont is home of Barolo and Barbaresco (both 100% Nebbiolo). It is also famous for Barbera d’Alba likewise Barbera d’Asti, as well as Asti spumante and Gavi
Lombardy – produces the famous white Lugana wines (made from Trebbiano grapes) and the sparkling wine Franciacorta
Veneto – Valpolicella, Amarone, Soave, Prosecco
Sicily – Nero d’Avola and Grillo
Rioja – Tempranillo
Ribera del Duero – Tempranillo
California – produces 90% of the wines in USA. The most renown regions there are Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. The most popular wine include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and most any other grape variety in the world!
Oregon State, Washington state and New Mexico are the other major wine-producing regions in the USA.
Wine knowledge is a huge topic and there is no one single person in the world that can state he has all the wine knowledge he needs! It is a life long learning process but you start from the basics and go from there! Good learning!
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