Wine is one of the most spectacular alcoholic beverages in the world, which has been in existence since the days of yore. Wine is tied to many religions and cultures around the world. The Christian Church finds wine to be an essential part of their religious practice.
While there is no specific date that can be accredited for the discovery of wine, archaeological evidence shows the presence of wine as far back as in 6000 BC. The states of Armenia, Georgia and Iran are linked with the production of the earliest wines in the world. Evidence of wine in these states was found through the wine vessels, jars, and remnants of crushed grapes. The oldest winery, which included a wine press, fermentation vats, and jars was discovered in Armenia and it dates back to 4100 BC.
Process of Making Red Wine
The steps involved in making red wine are:
- The process of making red wine is initiated with the harvest of grapes when they are ripe.
- The harvested grapes are then taken to a de-stemmer and crusher.
- The must, which is made from the grape juice and solids, are allowed to sit over a set period of time as they pick up flavor and color. This part of the process is known as maceration. Time is of essence during maceration. Too long and the wine can turn bitter.
- The next step is fermentation where the yeast works it’s magic on the wine.
- The grape skins start floating to the top and they have to be pushed back down so that they are in contact with the must to release their juices and color. This is known as pumping over.
- The next step involves separating the free-run juice from the pomace, which is the leftover must after the free-run juice is drained. The pomace goes through the process of pressing to squeeze out the remaining juice. Different degrees of pressing can lead to different qualities of wine. Winemakers usually keep the free-run juice separate from the juice extracted through pressing the pomace. The best quality wines use just the juice portion of the must.
- Malolactic fermentation (MLF) marks the next step of the red wine making process. The process converts malic acid, which is present in grape juice to lactic acid with the influence of bacteria.
- After MLF, the red wine is racked so that it can be cleared of any solids present in the wine. Preservatives are added at this time to avoid oxidation.
- Red wines then go through the process of aging, which can vary from a few days to almost 18 months. Aging is done in oak barrels, stainless steel or concrete tanks. Oak barrels are considered to bring flavor to the wine depending on their age and size.
- The fining and stabilization of red wine helps in removing any agents in the wine that may make it cloudy.
- The last step is filtering the wine so that it is clear of any sediments after which the wine is bottled. Usually, a cork stopper is used, but plastic or aluminum caps are also common.
Red Wine Producing Areas
Wines are segregated by color into red, white, and blush. Red wines are further divided into different varieties depending on the type of grapes which were used to lend their fruity essence to this sweet and dry beverage. The top three wine producing countries in the world are:
France – For centuries, this country has basked in the reputation of being the world’s largest and best producer of wine. While other wine producing nations have started emerging, France has notably reduced its production of wine since 2007. The country’s unrivaled experience in the area of wine ensures that it still remains one of the best wine producing countries in the world. The primary wine growing regions in France are Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Champagne, Jura, Languedoc, Cotes du Rhone, Loire Valley, Medoc, and Provence.
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Italy – Italy is second to France when it comes to wine production. The country is seeing a similar trend where wine production has been reduced by approximately 7% since 2007. While there are over 300 Italian wine varieties, the top wine producing regions in Italy are Veneto, Tuscany, and Piedmont.
Spain – Spain produces some of the best quality wines in the world, although the production of wine is lower than that of its neighbors. Spanish wines like the Alvaro Palacios’ L’Ermita and Vega Silicia’s Unico are considered to be highly prestigious.
While wine remains indisputably one of the world favorites when it comes to alcoholic beverages, it continues to evolve with flavors that flood your senses with the desire for more. The beautiful hues of red that lend the red wine its different colors are a wine connoisseurs delight as they twirl the glass and take a sip.
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