Wine is fermented juice, usually of grapes. Grapes are farmed, picked and crushed, with the juice of the grape set to ferment. The fermentation process converts the fruit sugars into alcohol. Wine consumption began in the ancient world, with evidence of winemaking as far back as the neolithic era, Georgia, 6000 BC. The earliest, functioning ‘winery’ was unearthed in Armenia , where in 2007, researchers from UCLA located the oldest winery to date, complete with Jugs, cups and a wine press.
The ancient Romans spread their love of wine throughout Europe. As the Roman legions expanded their foothold across Europe, their wine went with them. As their empire grew, so did their vineyards. The vineyards seen in Modern day Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain and France, are the result of this Roman influence.
Most people associate wines with grapes, when in truth, wine can be made from any fruit. Fruit wines are created from fruits such as plums, pineapple, dandelion, and peach. In the Philippines, for example, they have a wine that is made from bananas.
Wines come in color variations of red and white. After pressing, the grape juice is white. White wines then have their skins removed so they have no contact with the juice, which creates a clear, lighter wine. In red wine, the skins of the grape are not removed, so the wine retains a red coloring. This is also why red wine contains more healthy antioxidants than white wine, as antioxidants are found within the skin of the grape.
Wines can be sweet or dry. To make a sweet wine, grapes are harvested later in the season. The riper the grape, the more sugar it contains. Another method involves interruption of the fermentation process which results in halting the sugar into alcohol conversion. When the alcohol level is high, the sugar is low, and vice versa. Dry wines, have little or no sugar left after the fermentation cycle.
Another variety of wine, is the ‘fortified wine’. A fortified wine is one where additional alcohol, such as brandy, has been added to the wine during fermentation. Fortified wines can by dry or sweet. Some common types of fortified wines include Sherry, Port and Madeira.
Wines can be sparkling or still. Sparkling wines are wines that have an abundance of carbon dioxide added, which results in the ‘fizz’ or effervescence. Champagne is a sparkling wine that comes from Champagne France. Therefore, all Champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines can be called Champagne. Still wines are those wines that do not have the addition of carbon dioxide, thus no effervescence.
In short, wines have been part of human history since our ancient days. Wine has been carried into wars, celebrated at festivals and entertained kings and queens at table. Today, advancements in the fermentation process as well as creation of different varieties ensures wine lovers a host of pleasurable tastings to come.