Learning about wine involves peeling back layer after layer of information. For example, there are about 1,300 grape varieties, yet only about 100 varieties are used to make wine. And since the history of wine goes back thousands of years, it’s a fascinating subject to take on. Here are six things you can learn about wine.
1. White wine can be made from red grapes.
Yes, you can make white wine from red grapes, using a process called “blanc de noirs” or “white from black.” The color of red grapes is due to their skin and a pigment known as anthocyanins. By separating the juice from the skin and ensuring the juice doesn’t touch the grape skin, you’ll get a clear juice.
2. Orange wine is made when the grape skin and juice are left together to ferment.
Orange wine, or amber wine, can be made by leaving the grape skin to ferment alongside the grape juice. This process, which can take a few days to a few months, will give you wine with an amber or distinct orange color.
During the fermentation process, the grape skins will rise to the surface, where they will then form a layer of pulp, known as cap. To make sure that the fermentation happens together, winemakers push the pulp down back into the juice several times a day.
3. Carbonation of champagne takes place inside the bottle.
Many people ask where the bubbles in champagne come from. And the answer is that the process of carbonation, or “secondary fermentation,” takes place inside the bottle.
The first step in making champagne is to first create wine from a blend of grapes. This wine is then bottled with yeast and sugar, which begins the second fermentation process.
During this second fermentation process, the yeast consumes the sugar, which produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. As the bottle is sealed, the gas cannot escape and dissolves back into the wine.
4. Red wine can be fermented in concrete.
Many red wines are typically fermented in oak barrels. At Paso Robles Winery, they ferment the wine in caves. However, winemakers can ferment red wine in concrete vessels, too. This practice has been used for centuries. Concrete tanks are used due to their insulation properties, which help regulate the temperature during the process of fermentation and aging. The concrete material is also slightly porous, which means a small amount of oxygen seeps into the wine, creating interesting flavors.
Since red wines need to be fermented at a slightly warmer temperature than white wines, using a concrete tank can be advantageous as the concrete material can maintain a stable temperature. Winemakers leave the wine in concrete tanks for months or even years.
5. Most grapevines are now grafted from rootstalk and not grown from seed.
Growing grapevines from seed can prove problematic as there are issues with disease resistance, varying flavors, and even varying fruit sizes. These differences make it difficult for grape growers to get consistent quality or a consistent yield.
To ensure consistency, cuttings are taken from mature grapevines. These cuttings are then rooted to create new plants that are identical to the parent plant. The goal is to ensure that there are no variations in the new grapevine. Winemakers also use this technique to ensure that the new grapevine is well-suited to their soil type, altitude, or even climate.
6. Creating fake, high-end wines has become a huge problem in the wine industry.
Since wine around the world accounts for billions of dollars, creating fake wines was bound to happen. However, wine fraud has become a significant and growing problem.
Counterfeit wines are usually created by bottling cheap wines and using labels from luxury wineries and vintages. Some scammers add a bit of high-quality wine to the cheaper wine so that it feels more like the wine they’re trying to imitate. Another way counterfeit wine is sold is by misdating a vintage so that it seems the wine comes from a respected vintage.
These six facts are just the tip of the wine industry. Once you start on your journey with wine, you’ll discover there’s a wealth of information, such as how the shape of a wine glass can affect its taste. Overall, learning about wine is a rewarding experience as it provides a deeper appreciation for the drink itself and the varieties available.