White Wine – History And How Is It Made?
“There is a power within the succulent grape
That made thee, stronger than all human power.”
– Francis Saltus Saltus
Wine has been the muse for many poets. Today it is considered to be a sophisticated drink revered by many. White wine has many variations and can be either straw-yellow, yellow-green or yellow-gold in color. The numerous varieties of white wine grapes give the wine its color, texture, and flavor.
The presence of wine in this world is almost as old as civilization itself. The earliest evidence of wine making techniques date back to 6000 BC in the middle-eastern country of Armenia. Egyptians are also known to have produced wine since ancient times. Scenes of wine-making adorned many tomb walls which show the importance of wine in Egypt. The cities of ancient Greece considered wine to be a drink of the elite.
The popularity of wine was augmented during the Roman era when wine-making techniques spread across most of Europe. Wine gradually found its way through the silk route to China. Because of its religious impact on the Christians, wine-making was primarily the work of monasteries.
During the Renaissance, The qualities of wine were being appreciated by wine drinkers and by the 18th century, France had become the unsurpassed producer of elite wine. Regional wines, which had a distinctive taste and character, soon gained popularity and to this day France remains the world’s leading producers of wine.
How Is It Made?
Crush Grapes and Collect the Juice
White wine can be made with white or red grapes. White wines are fermented without the skin whereas red wine gets its color from the skin of the red grapes. The grapes are pressed to separate the juice from the skin. The grape juice is then ready to be fermented.
The fresh, fruit flavors of white wine can be accredited to the fact that they are fermented at cooler temperatures than red wine. During this time the yeast present in the grapes automatically initiates the fermentation process. Two parts sugar ferments into one part wine so the sugar content of the juice is directly proportional to the alcohol level.
MLF and Oaking
Malolactic fermentation transforms the malic acid into lactic acid which changes the texture of the wine to creamy. This is an optional procedure to add a creamy flavor to the wine. Another procedure is oaking the white wine to give it a vanilla flavor. Both of these procedures involve time and money, which makes the wines that have gone through these procedures more expensive.
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Filtering And Bottling
White wines are always filtered before being bottled. This is done to remove any suspended particles from the wine before it is packaged.
Most Common White Wine Grapes And Regions
Chardonnay grows well in most wine regions of the world. Burgundy, France is the original home of the versatile, Chardonnay grapes. Cool climates produce Chardonnay grapes that have flavors of citrus, apple, and pear. Moderate climatic conditions provide medium acidity to the grapes. In warm regions, this variety of grapes has pineapple and banana flavors with medium acidity. Wine makers can add secondary flavors to the wine through malolactic fermentation or by oaking the wine.
Sauvignon Blanc is a variety of grapes that is usually used for making refreshingly, fruity white wine. Bordeaux and Loire Valley have used these grapes for a long time to produce spectacular, white wines. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are also widely grown in New Zealand where it lends flavors of citrus, elderflower, and peach to wine.
Another grape variety from the Loire Valley is Chenin Blanc. It is used for making some of the world’s most age-worthy, white wines. Chenin Blanc is also grown in South Africa where it is often referred as Steen. Wines made from these grapes have a floral aroma with apple and pear flavors.
The cool climates of Alsace give the Gewürztraminer grape wines an intensely floral, aromatic flavor. The perfect blend of spice and slight sweetness makes the wine pair well with hot Asian and Caribbean cuisine.
France’s Northern Rhône region is famous for cultivating the white grape variety of Marsanne. Marsanne makes full-bodied, low-acid wines and has flavors of almond, white peaches, and whiffs of spiced pears.
Wine has been in production for thousands of years in a variety of types and flavors. Wine makers have started experimenting and innovating to continuously provide us with new varieties and distinctive flavors of white wine. So grab a bottle, pop the cork, and pour yourself a deliciously, refreshing adult beverage.