Wine is nowadays produced almost everywhere, from China to Canada, from New Zealand to Argentina; wine is not a matter of just a few countries anymore even though there are some like Italy, France, or Spain that are immediately associated with wine. There is also a completely different approach to wine between the different countries; between so called “Old World” and “New World”. In the Old World countires, many wines take their name from cities, villages, and areas (so-called appellations). This becomes difficult for a non-expert to really understand the wine behind the name. At Grapepedia, we aim to demystify and help you understand each wine and everything behind it.
Wine appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication (eg region, village or vineyard) under which a winery is authorized to identify and sell its wines, eg Nebbiolo grown in the Barolo region can be labelled as Barolo or Chardonnay grown in the Chablis region can be bottled as Chablis. By knowing the appellation we widen our wine horizon. The world, mainly the old world, is full of appellations, in this section we list them. Making wine is process and these are the main steps:
Harvesting begins late in the summer. By this time, the grapes are fully ripe on the vine, bursting with sweetness and flavour and ready for harvesting. Winemakers are artisans. They carefully measure the sugar content of the grapes to determine the perfect time for harvesting. Once the grapes are ready the harvest begins. It is essential that the grapes are harvested quickly and efficiently. If the grapes are left waiting too long and are not made into wine immediately, the fermentation can start and the wine spoiled. Also, the more the yield per hectare the lower the quality of the grapes and hand harvesting results in only the best grapes picked.
Once the grapes are harvested, they are transported immediately to the winery. Here, the wine making process begins. The grapes are crushed into a juicy pulp. The crushed grapes are then put into stainless steal tanks where the fermentation starts, during this process, the sugar is transformed into alcohol, the more sugar, the more the alcohol. Red and rose wines are fermented with the skins and stalks, white wines normally no. Fermentation can also take place into barrels.
After the fermentation, the liquid is moved to barrels for ageing if any. There are many types of barrels, from small (called barrique) to big. Some wines are left in the barrels for a matter of weeks, others for years. This process changes the taste of the wine, adding extra flavours and aromas but also complexity and structure. Barrels can be made with different woods from different places and each one has a different cost and add different aromas and flavours.
Once the wine has finished the ageing in the barrel, it is then bottled. Bottles can remain at the winery to further age, or shipped off, in any case the bottles should be left in the winery for at least a few months for the wine to recompose itself after the filtration process preceding the bottling. As you can see, wine making is a long and often tedious process.
So why are some wines cheap and others are more expensive? Cheap wines tend to be made with high yield, young vineyards, harvested by machine. By doing so, grapes of different level of ripeness are picked, damaged grapes, and the result is normally a wine of poorer quality, wine that need to be drunk immediately, wines that need a lot of sulphites to reach the markets in a drinkable state. A more expensive bottle of wine is made with diligence and care. The grapes are carefully picked, hand selected from the vineyards, and gently transported to the winery where the wine is then made. Always remember that healthy grapes, obtained through low yield, are always the basis of a good wine, without them is impossible to make one. A good wine maker, does not matter how skilled, can only do little without the grapes