An Introduction To Wine (Part 4): “Where It All Begins”

The Aspect of Agriculture

Let’s start with my favorite wine quote of all-time: “Winemaking is agriculture’s highest art form” -Anonymous

For all its complexity, wine is born of something utterly simple – a GRAPE.

A grape is by weight: 75% pulp / 20% skin / 5% seeds (usually 2-4 of them)

PULP is the soft juicy center that becomes wine. The sugar in the pulp causes the alcohol content.

The SKINS (of course) get to play the sexy part. They are largely responsible for the wine’s aroma, flavor, color and tannin.

Where It All Begins

1. Alcohol plays a critical role in wine – not because of the genial mood it can evoke (although that is certainly part of the charm) but rather because of the complex role it plays in the wine’s ultimate quality. the more ripe the grapes, the more sugar, then the more alcohol.

Why does this matter?

High alcohol wines affect the body of the wine as well as the texture. For example, you’ve heard the term full-bodied, i.e. in a ripe, rich Zinfandel, described as full, round, supple, thick and chewy.

Low alcohol wines are often described as light, almost sheer, i.e. a dry German Riesling.

Alcohol also influences aroma and flavor. An out-of-balance, high alcohol wine has a “hot” smell. You can actually feel a slight burning sensation far up in the nose.

2. Acid is the most important element in the pulp other than water and sugar. As a grape ripens, the sugar increases and the acid decreases. thus, you easily see the challenge for a wine grower to harvest precisely when the perfect balance of sugar and acid occur.

Acidity gives wine character and to a certain extent makes it thirst quenching.

Tomorrow, one of the most intellectually intriguing aspects of wine – tannin.

Created by Randy Elrod

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