Wine 101

What Is Wine?

The simplest way to define wine is this. Wine is the fermented juice of wine grapes. Fermentation is when the sugar present in grape juice becomes, through the actions of yeast alcohol. In this totally natural process, the grape juice becomes wine.

Fermentation can and does occur naturally without human intervention. The weight of grapes in a barrel can crush the fruit into juice, ferment and create wine. Yet, over the 8,000 years or so wine making has been around, humans have become involved in the process. The viticulturists have worked to create the right or ideal type of grapes for producing the best varieties of wine.

In searching to grow the perfect grape, the viticulturist has to remember certain indelible facts. He or she must be extremely aware that grapes require very specific growing conditions to be successful in wine making. The essential factors consist of the following:

  • Soil conditions
  • Temperature
  • The number of days of sunlight
  • The angle of the sun
  • The variety of grape
  • Vinification – the changing of grape juice into wine

The final factor in making wine that does not taste like rot gut is the skill of the vintner. He or she must utilize his or her skills to produce the best wine possible. In the process, the viticulturist must select plants that work into the schedule. Usually, the only grapes selected for wine come from 3rd year vines.

For The Wine Enthusiast