Some Interesting facts to ponder over (or argue about!)
Wine Ingredients - What is wine made of?
Wine is a product that can be made with stunning variations, mostly depending on its type, condition and the region in which grapes were grown. Currently, there are over 10 thousand variations of wine in the world, from red and white, solid or sparkling to the dessert and fortified wines. Although many types of fruits can be made into alcoholic drink, only grape has in itself the perfect union of pulp, juice, sugars, acids, tannins, and minerals that are responsible for the fermentation process. Although many believe, that this natural process creates the most natural wine, modern way of winemaking uses many additives which make the wine better, stronger, longer lasting and able to hold many various tastes. As a bare minimum, these are ingredients that are used in modern winemaking:
Grapes - This foundation of wine has in itself all the major components for fermentation. From wild yeast that will start the process, to the sugars who will be transformed to alcohol and CO2.
Yeast - Presence of these living organisms (fungi micro-organisms present in the tissue of grapes, or added by winemakers) is crucial for the creation of wine. They play the pivotal role in fermentation, converting sugars into alcohol and CO2. For the vest possible results, yeast must multiply in the environment between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yeast Nutrients - They provide additional vitamins and materials needed for the more successful process of yeast multiplication. It is added at the beginning of the fermentation.
Sugar - Additional sugar must be added, so that yeast can produce higher amount of alcohol in end product.
Water - Pure water can be added to the fermenting wine to regulate the amount of present sugar.
Sodium Metabisulfite - One of the most common wine ingredients today. It is used to disinfect and sterilize all winemaking equipment (container, buckets, siphons, bottles, corks, etc), and is added to the fermenting wine to protect it from harmful bacteria. Alternative to Sodium Metabisulfite can be Potassium Metabisulfite or Campden Tablets.
Tannin - This naturally occurring element found in Grape can sometime be artificially added to increase the amount of dryness in final product (tannin modifies saliva in our mouth by removing its lubricating effect).
Pectin Enzyme - This additive breaks down any pectin found in wine, making the end product clearer.
Finings - They are used to assist with wine clarification. These positively charged particles collect small negatively charged particles, clearing the fluid and creating more clearly looking product. Typical Finings that are used today are enonite, kieselsol, isinglass, liquid gelatin, or dry gelatin (historically used raw egg whites may contain harmful bacteria).
Acid Blend - Acids are used in many recipes to increase acidity of wine, most commonly itric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid.
Additives - These additives are used to change flavor, appearance and smell of the wine. Some of them are clay, acid, artificial yeasts, enzymes, sugar, gelatin, and charcoal, and many international governing bodies regulates their use and enforce their listing on the product labels.
Time - The most important ingredient in every recipe.
SHOULD I BE AGEING MY WINE?
No. Almost all wine is made to be enjoyed straight away. The general rule is that if the wine producer is happy to bottle and sell it, it is ready to enjoy now. Ageing will change a wine's flavours slightly, but it won't usually make it better.
HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP WINE OPEN FOR?
When you open a bottle of wine, you are exposing it to oxygen, and oxygen is the enemy of wine. White wine and rosé will keep overnight in the fridge, and red wine can last two to three days outside the fridge, but leave it any longer and the wine will start to become tired.
Sparkling wine should be enjoyed straight after opening; it quickly loses its bubbles, which carry flavour. The old adage that popping a teaspoon in the neck of the bottle will stop it from going flat is not true.
DO I NEED TO DECANT?
No. Traditionally, one of the main purposes of decanting was simply to separate the wine from any sediment at the bottom of the bottle. You don't get sediment in most modern wine (though you do find it in vintage or crusted ports, and older fine red wines).
Decanting also exposes wine to oxygen; some people claim this boosts the flavour, but generally, it helps does not help your wine taste better. After all, oxidising wine is something we usually avoid! A very heavy, tannic red wine is the exception, as a little oxygen can soften the tannins slightly. And, of course, the theatre of decanting wine can feel very social and special.
WHICH GRAPES PRODUCE RELIABLY GOOD WINES?
There is an old wine-trade belief that the six 'noble grape' varieties (three whites and three reds; see below) make the best wines. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but it's a great general guideline
Chardonnay Riesling Sauvignon Blanc Pinot Noir Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon
Just so you know what you are paying for, here are this years alcohol duty figures
The Chancellor has frozen all alcohol duty for the coming year so excise duty will remain as last year.
Taxation - UK Excise Duty
Rates per bottle from 1 February 2020 (excluding VAT @ 20%)
(Figures are approximate due to rounding up - effective from 01.02.2019)
Wine £2.23 per 75cl
Exceeding 5.5% but not exceeding 8.5% abv £2.16 per 75cl
Exceeding 8.5% but not exceeding 15% abv £2.86 per 75cl
Fortified Wines £2.98 per 75cl
Spirits (37.5% abv) £7.54 per 70cl
Spirit based RTDs (5.5%) £0.42 per 27.5cl
Cider/Perry (up to 7.5%) £0.23 per pint
Beer (4%) £0.43 per pint