Understanding wine- Grapes

- Edited by Shivangi Srivastava

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So as we learned about the history of wine in the last blog of Dakbrantail, there is no easy way to learn wine. It takes years of practice and experience and still people make mistakes while rating wines. On the bright side, we are not here to assess the wine or even become a master of it. Just the joy of sipping a glass of wine after a tough day at work is all the pleasure we need. However, the joy doubles when you know a thing or two more about it and show off about it in front of your friends and family.

Here’s how we will do it, by understanding some bits about it. By definition, wine is an alcoholic beverage made through the process of leavening of freshly pressed grapes with yeast.  And, that is that. However, there are certain attributes which will make you better at picking wines, once you get to know them, next time you visit the liquor store.

Composition of grape

Most of the times we want to know where our food comes from, so the question is why we don’t pay same keenness towards our drink?  To better understand the basic building blocks of wine, we need to understand the anatomy of grape. How a fruit containing 75 percent pulp, 20 percent grape skin and 5 percent seeds, makes one of the complex wines which we adore. To be noted here, although, sugar is in the pulp, mostly it comprises of water. You may find very small amounts of pectin compounds, acids and minerals with tannins on the skin of the grape. Sugar is crucial for making alcohol within the wine. Once the entire fermentation process is completed, you may notice several essential characters like alcohol level, acidity, tannin, fruitiness, and sweetness or dryness.

Grape cycle

Grape has to go under intense for it to be declared fit for being a part of your delicious wine. There are many factors which need to be taken into consideration such as climate, time of planting, harvesting, etc. Grapes require a suitable climate with correct amount of sunlight, heat and water. This is generally available between 50 to 30 degree north and 30 to 50 degree south of the equator. The growth happens in clusters of flower on vines, which further turns into grape. During summer it ripens where it swells up with water, amount of sugar increases, there is development of acid, and as it ripens it starts to build up flavour. At the end of the summer or early autumn they tend to develop balanced sugar and acidity, and are ready to be picked.

Flavour Profile

Flavours become riper as the grapes are left more on the vines. For a winemaker to decide when to pick the grapes is a completely at their discretion, depending on what style of wine they want to make. A common indicator to know the grapes are ready is by their colour. Although, both grapes start from green, white grapes turn to Golden yellow colour and Black tends to move along a purple shade. Sugar and acidity level depends upon picking of the grapes; if the grapes are picked early then there will be low sugar and high acidity and vice-versa for late picks. General rule of thumb is cold climate grapes impart green fruits characteristics, moderate climate with stone fruits and warmer climate tends to produce tropical flavours. Again, this may or may not be altered by the wine maker.

As mentioned earlier, there are many complex processes and methods which are involved to make a delicious bottle of wine, and not everything could be concise in a one small blog. However, with this little knowledge of grapes, you may be able to understand the characteristics and flavour profile as per the region of your favourite wine. So when you go out next time to buy a bottle and stand with a confused look in front of the wine cellar, remembering region and their climate could help you pick a better one.

Please let me know how you used this knowledge to your advantage and did it reduce some curiosity you had about wine.

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