Winemaking 101

Knowing what wine to have with your meal can be overwhelming with so many varieties, colors, and flavors to choose from. With a winemaking primer, you will learn the process in which your wine was prepared and no longer fret.

United States wines are usually named for the grape varietal first followed by the region where they are grown; for example; Chardonnay, Napa Valley California. In Europe, wines are named for the region where the grapes are grown. These differences are primarily due to the huge number of grape varieties grown in Europe. It has been said that Italy grows 2000 grape varieties.

Red wines begin with dark-skinned grapes. During fermentation, the skins are left on and the tannins and pigments make the red color. The bulk of red wines are heavy and elaborate but some varieties are lighter. White wines are made with a large range of grapes, yellow and red-skinned being the most common. Grapes with dark skins can make white wine if the skins are removed early enough in the fermentation process. Most white wines are notably light.

Rose wines are not a blend of red and white wines as is commonly believed. Blush wines may be a blend of red and white wines and is less expensive than authentic rose wines. Better wines are made by leaving the skins of dark skinned grapes on long enough to leave a bit of color to the wine.

Sparkling wines start out as regular wines. They are fermented two times for the added effervescence. To make rose champagne; winemakers add a small amount of red wine to the white wine before the second fermentation. Cheap sparkling wines are infused with carbon dioxide and do not go through this second fermentation process.

Dessert wines are also known as table or fortified wines. Because they are dessert wines, they have a high sugar content although some are not sweet. It is not a rule that dessert wines have to be consumed after the main meal.

Fruit wines are made from ripe fruit either in tandem or with other grapes. To be considered a “fruity wine” a wine has to contain fruit other than grapes.

Agricultural wines are considered a specialty and are made with products other than fruits or grains. These wines have been made with honey, dried fruit, and herbs and flowers. Dandelion wine anyone?

Kosher wines are governed by strict rabbinical production techniques and must contain no chemical additives. Jews who observe the Sabbath make these wines.

Organic wines are made with grapes that are grown naturally, without any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Regulations governing organic wine production vary by state and country.

Nonalcoholic wines start as traditional wines but go through an alcohol removing process. To attain the “nonalcoholic” status a wine must have less than Ã?½ of 1-% alcohol by volume

Red wine goes with meat and white wine tastes best with seafood and poultry.

Experiment and find what combination works best for you.

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