To understand wine, it helps to have some basic knowledge about how wine is made. The overall process is simple:
- Grow grapes.
- Pick the grapes.
- Crush the grapes.
- Collect the grape juice in a fermentation cask. In the cask, yeast transforms the sugar in the juice into alcohol through a process called fermentation.
- Let the wine mature in casks for some length of time.
- Age the wine in bottles.
How Good Wine Is Made
Though the winemaking process is uncomplicated, the details are difficult. And the secret to good wine is in those details—the fine points that master winemakers control during every stage of the process. These include:
The type of grape or grapes used to make a wine plays the largest role in determining the wine’s character. All grapes can be broken down into those that produce red wine and those that produce white wine. But there are differences among the grapes within these categories too: among reds, for instance, wine made from Pinot Noir grapes tastes different from wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
The temperature, sunshine, humidity, rainfall, and soil in a particular region all affect a wine’s taste and character. Wines made with the same grape in different locations can taste quite different, as can wines made in the same location during different years (vintages). The particular environmental traits of a location are called its terroir (pronounced tair-WAHR).
Stainless steel casks are nonreactive, which allows the wine to keep its fruity flavor. Oak casks lessen the fruity flavor and impart an oaky or roasted nutty flavor along with a smoother texture.
Certain wines improve with aging in both the cask and the bottle. The ideal aging time varies from wine to wine. Wines improve with age until they reach a peak of quality and then decline.
Good wine is a joy to … enjoy!
The proper grape, grown under ideal conditions and handled with care, will produce wines that are a joy to consume if the winemaker ages it properly. From that point it can be enjoyed at everything from a wedding party to a quiet evening alone.
Enjoy your wine.