One of my fears upon returning home is that people will assume that I have acquired a vast knowledge of the different types of wines offered in Italy. Despite the fact that I went on a wine tasting tour is Southern Tuscany and that our fireplace, the area where we are collecting empty wine bottles, has become full from all of the bottle my apartment mates have been consuming, I'm by no means a wine connoisseur and my knowledge is pretty limited. So with a little research and the tidbits that I do know of wine, please read on for some basic knowledge of why Benjamin Franklin says “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy."
What Is Wine?
"Any fruit containing sugar will turn to alcohol if you leave it to ferment because yeast converts the sugar into alcohol. Yeast lands on the skins of grapes so when grape juice is left to sit, the yeast will mix with it and ferment it naturally. Different strains of yeast will lead to different flavors of wine."
"The inside of red grapes is essentially "white;" it is only their skin that is red and most wines are made with just the inside of a grape. The red color in red wine is created by allowing the fleshy interior to mix with the skins when it is being crushed. This process infuses red wines with "tannin," the ingredient that gives red wine its distinctive flavor. So you can make white wine with red grapes."
"The grapes are crushed with or without the skins and then left to ferment. A disinfectant is used to neutralize any contaminants, such as mold and bacteria, that may have been on the grapes. The fluid, or "must," is then left to complete the fermentation process in either big steel vats or small wooden barrels - barrels call for a longer process. Some vineyards will age the wine for years in oak barrels, which infuses the wine with positive woody hints." Most of the wine's aging is done in the vineyard and the vats so when you buy a bottle, you don't need to store it away as it is ready to be consumed.
The results of the four recognized stages to wine tasting:
- complexity and character
- potential (suitability for aging or drinking)
- possible faults
"If you are going to be eating something delicate with subtle tastes you should avoid drinking something with a strong flavor that will overshadow the food. Conversely, a hearty meal will often be best complimented by a strong wine with flavor of its own. White wines tend to go best with fish and white meats, like chicken and pork; red wines go best with red meat and red sauces."
So, with these bits of information, you can now go around telling people about the basics of wine. If you have any input, questions, or more knowledge, then please, I would love to know!