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Wine is made from grapes which are harvested, juiced, and fermented. Adding yeast during fermentation transforms sugars into alcohol, producing a primitive wine that is then aged for months or years to create the perfect bottle.
There are three main types of wine:
White wines are light, crisp, and often slightly acidic wines that typically offer a palate of fresh green fruits. Popular white wine grapes include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Pinot Grigio. White wine is best served chilled alongside seafood and salads.
Red wines are generally matured in oak barrels for longer than white wines, and offer bold, earthy flavours rich with tannins. Some of the most popular red grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, and Malbec. Reds are best enjoyed at room temperature with hearty dishes such as red meat and pasta.
Rosé is a sweet wine that delivers a similar fruitiness to white wines with none of the dryness. It is made from red or black grapes but retains its light colour and flavour due to only being fermented with the grapes’ skins for a very short period. Rosé should be drunk chilled with poultry, grilled vegetables, and fresh fruit.
- It can take over 600 grapes to produce a single bottle of wine
- Thomas Jefferson could be responsible for the California wine boom after returning from a trip to France with a selection of vine cuttings
- In 2017, due to poor weather conditions, wine production reached the lowest level in sixty years
- A 'magnum' bottle of wine holds 1.5 litres, equivalent to two standard bottles. Some claim that it is the optimal size for ageing because of the reduced space for oxygen
Records indicate that fermented grape juice was being enjoyed in China as early as 7000BC, with evidence of early winemaking also appearing all over Europe and the Middle East for the next few millennia. In 2016, archaeologists discovered a primitive winery nestled in the caves of Armenia’s mountains which they believe to be around 6000 years old.
Ancient Egypt stands as a critical source of our modern winemaking practices. The Egyptians began storing crushed red grapes in clay bottles in a process not dissimilar to fermentation techniques we see today. The culture surrounding wine also bears resemblance to contemporary drinking habits, as artworks show that it was primarily drunk at ceremonies and celebrations.
Customs of making and drinking wine were passed through generations and over borders, becoming particularly significant within Ancient Greece and Rome. Wine was of such value to these cultures that they were moved to name Gods after the drink: the Greek Dionysus and Roman Bacchus.
Further through the years, countries grew distinctive grapes and developed personalised production techniques, giving birth to the localised French, Italian, Spanish, and Argentinian wines we still drink today.
How many glasses of wine are in a bottle?
A typical wine bottle holds 75cl of liquid. If you’re serving at the industry-standard mark (125ml a glass) you can expect to get six glasses from one bottle.
What does a decanter do? Do I need one?
Using a decanter is by no means compulsory, but it can improve the quality and flavour of wine (especially mature reds).
Decanting wine introduces oxygen to the liquid in a process called ‘aeration’. This releases gases that develop during maturation and softens the wine’s tannins, refining its texture and allowing flavours to bloom.
What does ‘vintage’ mean?
‘Vintage’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘very old’. The vintage year marked on a wine bottle simply tells you which year the grapes were picked.
How long does wine last?
A wine’s expiration date depends on its type and quality. Unopened, white wines and rosés will probably keep for around two years. Many red wines should only be kept for a similar period, but particularly fine wines can be stored for up to twenty years.
Once opened, whites and rosés will last up to three days if they are kept in the fridge with a stopper. If stored in a cool, dark place, red wines can last for up to five days after opening.
Is wine vegan?
There are many vegan-friendly wines available, but it’s always worth checking the label as many brands use agents such as gelatine and egg white to clarify their wine.