Thursday, May 22, 2008
Diaries of an Oenologist
“What did you do in the vacations? “This question has a habit of creeping up on me nearly twice a year. In my case it is not what I did but where that matters. The vicissitudes of fate manage to cast me (rather unceremoniously) into a sleepy Indian town called Nasik every time NITT gives me a break. This is a very average town, with a very average outlook that continually regresses to the mean. The only exception to the triteness is that it is known as the wine capital of the country. The rolling vineyards and the picturesque countryside do tend to make me a bit chatty. Hence, I will present my discourse on wine making and wine tasting for the uninitiated.
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermentation of grape juice. Wine is usually made from one or more varieties of the European species, Vitis vinifera. Wines are usually named either by their grape variety or by their place of production. Generally speaking, European wines are named both after the place of production (e.g. Bordeaux, Rioja, Chianti, Cotnari) and the grapes used (e.g. Pinot, Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot). A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown in a single specified year, and are accordingly dated as such.
Winemaking, or vinification, is the process of wine production, from the selection of grapes to the bottling of finished wine. Wine production can be generally classified into two categories: still wine production (without carbonation) and sparkling wine production (with carbonation). The science of wine and winemaking is known as oenology. After the harvest, the grapes are crushed and allowed to ferment. Red wine is made from the must (pulp) of red or black grapes that undergo fermentation together with the grape skins, while white wine is usually made by fermenting juice pressed from white grapes. During this primary fermentation, which often takes between one and two weeks, yeast converts most of the sugars in the grape juice into ethanol (alcohol). After the primary fermentation, the liquid is transferred to vessels for the secondary fermentation. Here, the remaining sugars are slowly converted into alcohol and the wine becomes clear. Of all factors affecting the quality of a wine, the quality of the grapes more than any other factor determines the quality of the wine. Their quality is not only affected by their variety, but also by the weather during the growing season, the soil, the time of harvest, and the way they are pruned.
Wines may be classified by their primary impression on the drinker's palate. They are made up of chemical compounds which are similar or identical to those in fruits, vegetables, and spices. The sweetness of wine is determined by the amount of residual sugar in the wine after fermentation, relative to the acidity present in the wine. Specific flavors may also be sensed, due to the highly complex mix of organic molecules such as esters and terpenes that grape juice and wine can contain.
Now you are ready to visit Nasik. Bon Aperitif…!!!!
Disclaimer: I wikishagged for most of this.