Although millions of people across the globe enjoy wine, very few of them know exactly what it is about a particular wine that they enjoy. By understanding each of the different components of wine, you can quickly establish the parts you prefer, and therefore choose your next bottle with more confidence.
Sweeter wines have more sugar than dry wines. During the fermentation process a lot of the natural fruit sugar is fermented. However, in some wines, residual (remaining) sugar may be higher and therefore a sweeter wine is produced.
Most people know that one of the key components of wine is alcohol! Alcohol is fundamental to the taste of wine. The alcohol volume most wines range between nine and fifteen per cent. Fortified wine can be as high as twenty per cent alcohol.
Tannin comes from the skin of grapes. Therefore, tannin is much more fundamental as a taste component in red wine than in white.
Too much tannin in a wine is not a good thing and can result in the wine tasting spoiled.
However, tannin helps to preserve a wine, which means that some wines can be kept for years and even improve with age.
A small amount of tannin is also a positive taste characteristic to regular wine drinkers, if a little over-whelming for novice wine drinkers.
All wines contain water that has been extracted naturally from the grapes from which they were produced. Very rarely, if ever, would extra water be added to a wine. In fact, some wines will be criticized for being excessively watery if the other flavors are not sufficiently powerful.
Acid found in wine balances against the residual sugar that is left after the fermentation process has finished. There are three key types of acid in wine, tartaric, malic and citric. All of these acids are found in varying quantities in the skins of grapes
Alcohol may react with bacteria within the wine to create acetic acid; this is not generally a good thing as too much acetic acid will make a wine taste more like vinegar than anything else!
This is what tends to differentiate one wine from the other. Fruity tastes are what we look for in a wine and different grapes will produce a myriad of fruit flavors. It is the combination of tastes that makes each wine unique and special.
During every fermentation process, carbon dioxide is produced. Most of this is normally released, however, in some wines a degree of fizz can be left in a wine to add a little extra to an otherwise very ordinary wine. Of course, in sparkling wines, the carbon dioxide is retained and is fundamental to the taste.
No longer an essential component of everyday quaffing wines, oak barrels are still used on occasions to add a vanilla, oaky flavor. Oak barrels can add an extra dimension to plain wines that will make them much more saleable and enjoyable.
All of these components make the wine that we see in our glasses. Next time you pour yourself a glass of wine, take some time to think about which elements are supporting your enjoyment, and which you could do without.
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