Here at Crush Wine Experiences, we want to bring you all of the education and information about the wine world so you can create your own amazing wine experience!
You’ll notice our blogs going back to basics for the next few weeks for that exact reason. These articles will help you build your base of wine knowledge so we can all learn together!
So on that note, let’s talk about wine! What is it? No really, what is wine and how is it made?
At a very, very fundamental level, wine is simply the fermented juice of a grape. The grapes are harvested off of vineyards that have varying growing season lengths and climates and are then crushed or pressed. Depending on whether it is a white, red, or rosé, the skins might be left in contact with the juice itself, and then the whole batch moves on to the fermentation stage.
This is the most crucial part of winemaking because it’s when the actual wine is made. The scientific definition of fermentation is the process of breaking down sugars to create alcohol and carbon dioxide. Oftentimes, yeast is added during this process which assists in the creation of the good bacteria that occur during fermentation. All wine is created the same way but the process can be adjusted based on what your intended outcome is. For instance, something bubbly like Champagne or sparkling rosé is going to be fermented longer to produce the full-scale bubbles while a classic Sauvignon Blanc will be fermented long enough to create a notable flavor but without carbonation.
There are so many aspects to wine besides the color – acidity, tannins, fruits, herbs, or other notes. These all come from the way in which the grapes are fermented and what they are combined with.
Tannins are naturally found in the skin of the grapes, as well as in many other common flavors of wine like cranberries and oak. The acidity of a wine starts with the soil and is amplified by the ripeness of the grape at the time of harvesting. A late harvest grape will be one that has sat on the vine for a long time, reducing the acidity and increasing the sugar – think about raisins and how sweet they are just from sitting in the sun.
If you read the review on a bottle of wine, chances are you’ll hear mentions of different fruit flavors and aromas. If wine is made from grapes, how do those other fruits show up? This actually comes from compounds within the grapes themselves! When they start to break down and reduce during fermentation, they emanate whatever sources were part of their growing process. If the plants on their vines were pollinated by bees who had recently been in certain flower bushes, or the soil was close to peach orchards, or there are herbs growing nearby, all of these factors play a part in the overall palate of a wine.
The vessel used for fermentation is also crucial. Oak barrels are commonly used particularly for aging Chardonnay which brings along a whole host of new flavors within the oak tree that was used for the barrel itself.
Winemaking is a very complex and unique process, almost as unique as the product itself. The science and methodology haven’t varied much from the past but the techniques and equipment have seen huge innovative improvement in the last century or so. Keep this in mind as we move through our educational series over the next few weeks!
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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