WHAT IS WINE?
Wine, at its core, is simply grape juice, fermented with yeast. Yet, for most, wine is a bit of an enigma, and not without a reason. Let's take a sneak peek into the world of wines.
A centuries-old natural process
The same natural process (fermentation) that converts milk into yogurt is used to make wine from grape juice. During the fermentation process, the yeast either naturally present on grape skins, or added by the winemaker, converts the natural sugars in the juice into alcohol to create this delicious beverage - wine.
Technically, wine can also be made from sweet fruits such as plums, litchis, apples, strawberries, cranberries and so on. However, such fruit wines are not common.
Yet, not so simple...
Wine probably wouldn't taste very good if it were simply a matter of leaving containers of grape juice in a cool place for a couple of months.
Besides the grape variety itself, there are several factors – the climate, weather conditions, water, sunlight, soil of the region where the vines are grown, farming techniques used, fermentation time, type of containers used for maturation and the intervention of the viticulturist and the winemaker during the winemaking process – that play a role in shaping the unique taste of wine.
In many ways, wine reveals a beautiful amalgamation of nature and technology, of people and imagination, of art and science.
Inside a bottle of wine
Studies show that wine grapes, both red and white, are packed with nutrients and antioxidants and have high amounts of resveratrol, which is good for the heart. And all these goodness is retained in wine. But drinking in moderation is the key.
While several factors such as size and shape of the grape, terroir etcetera affect the chemical composition of wine, we have attempted to list the most important ingredients that can be found in a standard 750ml bottle of wine (refer image).
Perhaps, what distinguishes wine from other alcoholic drinks is the ability of the best wines to not only last for decades and sometimes centuries but also improve with time.
Food tastes better with wine
The importance of eating food with alcohol can't be overstated. But when it comes to drinking wine with food, it sends most people in a frenzy.
Drinking wine with food is a centuries-old practice. Many cultures around the world, consider wine as a part of their meal. In fact, one of wine's greatest pleasures is its ability to enhance the dining experience; to join its solid counterpart at the table and to transform a meal from simple nourishment to a wonderful gastronomical experience.
Source: In The Wine Cellar - Fritz Wagner
The rationale behind food and wine pairing starts with our basic sense of taste: sweet, salty, sour (acidity), bitter (astringent) and umami, of which wine has three (usually not salty).
When the flavors and textures of wine are complemented with those in the food, both food and wine enhance each other creating a perfect balance in the mouth. Beyond that, wine and food pairing is a subjective process really.
It’s well known that certain foods go well with certain wines. But if you consider wine as an ingredient, then creating your own flavor combinations can be fun. After all, the best wine and food pairing is the one you like!