An alcoholic drink made primarily from grapes but also made from other fruits is known as wine. The grapes or fruit are picked and crushed in a container therefore allowing natural yeast to come in contact with the sugars contained in the fruit. This natural fermenting process changes the sugars into alcohol.
The origins of wine can be traced back to 4000-6000 BC. The earliest known producers of wine are said to be the inhabitants of what is now Georgia (Not US Georgia). Additional early origins of wine have been traced back to 4500 BC in the Balkans and also from ancient Greece, Rome, and Thrace. 36 wine amphoras or containers were found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun (King Tut) containing the name of “Kha’y”, a royal chief winemaker. Five of these amphoras were said to originate from the King Tut’s personal estate.
The process of making wine is far less complex than the process of making other alcoholic beverages. However there are far more influences that attribute to the quality and flavor of wine.
First off, every different type and origin of grape produces a different quality and flavor of wine. The environment that the grape is grown in can drastically affect the wine. Temperature, soil, moisture, and even land elevation can all play a contributing role in the growth of the grape. The riper and sweeter the grape the more and easier the alcohol is produced.
The wine fermentation process occurs naturally. However, the container material used during fermentation, the temperature, and the container size all additionally contribute to wine quality and taste. After fermentation the wine then needs to mature to reach it’s peak level of intended quality. The maturing process can last days or even many years in some cases.
Wines that are made from grapes that were all or predominately grown in a particular year are known as “Vintage Wines”. A few Vintage Wines from certain countries are allowed to contain a small portion that are not from the original vintage year. Differences in color, nose, palate, and body can easily be attributed to differences in the vintage year.
For a wine to be vintage-dated and labeled with the United States or American Viticultural Area (AVA), 95% of its volume must be from grapes harvested in the same year. This requirement is lowered to 85% for a wine not labeled with a country of origin or AVA.
Non-vintage wines, mass produced wines, are normally blended from more than one vintage, more than one type of grape, or even more than one origin. This process of combining vintages, types of grapes, and points of origin helps the mass producers maintain a consistant taste and quality of wine even through bad years of grape growth.
Check out our other Origins and Types Pages…read more.