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.

Ingredients for wines - grapes

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.
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