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Wine 101:

General Information

Wine is...
Wine is nothing but liquid fermented fruit. Wine is an alcoholic beverage by fermenting *mostly* grapes, but other fruit such as plums, elderberry and blackcurrant can work to make wine too.

Making Wine: Basic Principle
Simply pick a large quantity of ripe grapes from a vineyard. Put the grapes into a container, crush the grapes to release the grape juice and wait. During the wait, yeasts (tiny organisms that exist naturally in the vineyard and the grapes) come in contact with the sugar of the grapes' juice and convert that sugar into Alcohol. Alcohol is generally not added to make wine (although it can and has been done). The sugar that was in the juice is no longer there and you have wine. The riper and sweeter the grapes, the more alcohol you will have. This is the fermentation process.

Categories of wine
Click to see Categories of Wine

Tips for Tasting Wine
The general feeling to tasting wine is 1) slow down 2) pay attention to detail 3) ask yourself questions about the wine you just tasted. Drinking and tasting wine are not one in the same. There is a lot going on in a mouthful of wine. From the crispness to the finish. From the boldness to the weight. Check out some wine descriptors for more information that you should be looking for when tasting a wine. The most important thing you will want to do when tasting a wine is smell it. It's recommended to stick your nose deep into the glass. Further, before smelling it's good to swirl the glass to bring out the aromas of the wine. When tasting the wine, it's good to actually chew it. Why chew it? wine is a food, some say you're not just drinking wine or tasting it, you're also eating it.

Common tastes of wine
Sweetness, acidity, tannin and body.
Sweet - if the wine is not sweet it's considered dry.
Acidity - All wines contain acid. Acid is more of a taste consideration in whites than in reds.
Tannin - the substance that exists naturally in grape skins, seeds and stems. Red wines have higher tannin content than white wines.

Evaluating the wine
After tasting one might evaluate a wine on the following criteria: Color, nose, palate, body & finish.

10 Common Aromas associated with wine
Fruits, herbs, flowers, Earth, Grass, tobacco, butterscotch, Toast and Pepper

Where is the wine made?
Most of the wine in the world is produced by France. France produces over 2 times that of the United States. All 50 states produce wine including Hawaii and Alaska. Interesting to note however, 90% of the US wine comes from California.

Grape or Region?
Today, more people are buying wine based on their favorite grapes rather than region. In other words, more people are reaching out for a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon than say a French wine.

Table: Wine Production

Wine production by country 2005
(with link to wine article)
4United States of America2,232,000
8South Africa1,157,895

source: wikipedia 2006.