Whether you’re a new-comer to wine drinking or just curious as to what all the fuss is about, you will soon discover that wine tasting and drinking is as much an experience as it is an art. From the vineyards that the wine originates from to the families behind the names that appear on the labels, it may seem like a business on one hand but it is also a time consuming exercise. However, meet any sommelier and they’ll run out of adjectives to describe the joy derived from crafting and nurturing the spirit that is bottled and savoured. Read on to learn more about the intricacies of wine crafting and why it’s so special.
Where Does Wine Come From?
Wine is derived from the fermentation process used to extract the juice from natural grapes. While technically, wine could be produced from any fruit such as berries or apples, most wines are made using grapes. Beer on the other hand, is produced through the fermentation of brewed grains and malts. So in short, beer is made of fermented grains while wine comes from the fermented juice of grapes and other fruit.
Estate Wine and Vineyard Wines – Is There A Difference?
Yes, there is a difference. Those labelled estate wines are produced in only a few vineyards. However as long as the vineyards belong and are controlled by a single estate it can be termed an “estate” wine. For instance, the Castelli estate wines are a popular choice and most of its wines come from the many winegrowing regions in South Western Australia, where each style of wine is harvested according to the region’s climatic compatibility and bottled entirely on the estate’s property.
There are also wineries that produce wine from vineyards that are not controlled by them, and these could be considered vineyard wines.
Are Wine Grapes The Same As Those In The Grocery?
The grapes used in the production of wine are much different to those you see at the grocery store. Wine grapes have a lot more seeds and the skin on the fruit is much thicker. While they can be eaten, they are not meant for consumption as the high sugar content used in the fermentation process turns them into alcohol. The grapes are actually a specialized species called VitisVinifera and there are more than a thousand varieties in the Vinifera family growing under different conditions. The most common species is used for the Cabernet Sauvignon style of wine production.
Origin behind the Term “Vintage”
You may have heard connoisseurs of wine referring to a particular bottle of wine as ‘vintage’. As wine grapes take an entire year to ripen, wine production only takes place once a year. If the word were to be broken down – the word ‘vint’ refers to ‘winemaking’ and ‘age’ refers to the year of production. This is why whenever you see a vintage year marked on the label – it refers to the year the grapes were plucked and made into the wine contained in the bottle. In Australia, the harvesting period takes place between February and April.
What Does Non-Vintage (NV) Wine Mean?
For those wines that don’t have a vintage year on its label, you will notice the letters ‘NV’. This means ‘Non-Vintage’, meaning the wine has been produced using several vintage wines together and does not belong to a single year of production.
Wine making and tasting is a fascinating subject and the above pointers are just a little introduction to get you started on learning more about this industry.