To understand the most wine basics, you simply need to know wine is a beverage fermented from grape juice containing alcohol. Grapes have a natural chemical balance which allows them to ferment without the need to add any sugars, acid, enzymes, or any other types of nutrients to the ingredients.
When wine is produced, grapes are crushed using different types of yeast. The yeast consumes the natural sugars found in grapes. This consumption converts the grapes into alcohol. Depending on the types of wine produced, many different grape varieties are used to produce wine.
Evidence shows that the earliest productions of wine took place as early as 6000 BC in places like Georgia, Iran, and Israel. Some archaeologists say that as early as 7000 BC grapes were mixed with rice to produce other types of fermented beverages in China. This is considered to be the precursors of what we call today, rice wine.
In Europe, wine dates back to as early as 4500 BC in some of the archaeological sites located in Greece. These same sites contain the earliest evidence in the world of grapes being crushed. Ancient Egypt has a recorded history of wine being used ceremonially. Places like the Roman Catholic Church found wine necessary to celebrate Mass. In France, the monks made wine for years and stored it in caves underground for aging.
During the Islamic Golden Age, wine was forbidden until the pioneering of the distilling methods, which led it to be approved and legalized for medical and cosmetic uses only. There were many recipes made with wine during this time.
Wine is made from many different grape varieties. The Vitis vinifera is the predominant grape. This grape is defined by law as having a minimum of 75% to 85%. The result coming from these types of grapes is a varietal. This type of wine is known to people as the Chardonnay, Merlot, or the Pinot Noir. The areas of the world where these grapes are grown include regions like the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux.
Wines are not always made from the same species of grapes. They may be from the same vintage but of different species. When two species of grapes are crossed it is called a hybrid. The Concord grape is a hybrid grape coming from different species of grapes like the Vitis labrusca, Vitis rupestris, Vitis aestivalis, Vitis, riparia, and the Vitis rotundiafolia. These grapes are primarily grown in North America for general consumption. There are many foods made from these grapes which include things like jelly, jam, grape juice, and even sometimes wine.
Wine is generally classified depending on the different parts of the world. There are regulations that govern the way wine is classified. For example, in Europe wine is classified by the region it comes from. If it comes from Bordeaux or Chianti the wine is classified as this.
Countries that are not European do not classify their wines by the different regions the wine is produced. They classify the wine according to the type of grapes used to make the wine. Wines classified by the different grape types include the Merlot and the Pinot Noir.
Some regions of the world and wine valleys have recognized the classification regulations put to standard in Europe. Wine is being recognized more often by the locale rather than by the grape. Some wines recognized by the location of the vineyard and not by the grape variety include wines like Napa Valley, Australia, Willamette Valley, Barrosa Valley, and Marlborough.
There have been attempts by wine valley regions around the world that are non- European to classify wines by the quality of the wine. However, these attempts have failed and short lived.
The vintage wines are wines specifically grown in a certain year. These wines are labeled by the year they were grown rather than by the different region or grape used to make the wine. These grapes are usually all grown in the same year also. Every year the same wine may have a different variation in color and slightly in taste.
Many other characteristic differences noted with vintages include the nose, palate, body, and the development. They are considered to improve in flavor with age when they are stored properly. It is very common for wine collectors to hold onto a vintage bottle of wine for a special occasion to consume.
Non-vintage wines are wines produced from grapes and wines, not from the same vintage. They do maintain the consistency with the taste of the wine and the other characteristics. These wines often sell better because they maintain the same flavor. Even in a bad year these wines can be blended and produced because the grapes come from different vintages.