Wine: the basics
Wine has been made and drunk for thousands of years. The different grape varieties determine the taste, but also the type of soil on which the vines are grown and the method of preparation contribute to the taste and experience of wine.
In general terms, making wine can be divided into 5 steps:
1. The Harvest
The moment of harvesting the grapes is important: the ripeness of the grapes determines the sweetness and acidity of each grape. This will translate into the wine, the acidity, and the sweet taste and the tannins.
In the past, the crushing of the grapes was done with the feet: all grapes were thrown into a large container and with bare (clean) feet people walked around in the container until all the grapes were crushed.
Nowadays this is done mechanically, simulating the stamping of the feet. The end result is a pulp of seeds, skins and of course the grape juice.
If the final product is to become a white wine, the skins and seeds are removed from the pulp at this stage. For red wine, these remain in the pulp for a while so that they can release color and aromas.
The next step in the whole process is fermenting all. Fermentation is a biochemical process in which bacteria, fungi (yeasts) convert the sugars from the pulp into alcohol, CO2 and heat. Yeasts are used in the production of wine, whereby the type of yeast influences, for example, taste and alcohol percentage. Hence, each winery has its own (secret) yeast colony.
If the yeasts are left to work for a long time, the wine will become increasingly drier in taste. If the yeasts are stopped at an earlier stage, this will lead to a wine with a sweet(er) taste.
After the whole fermentation process, the wine is not a nice, clear liquid. There are still remnants in it, such as from the yeast. The wine is filtered and in the majority of cases, substances are added that cause the solids to settle at the bottom of the tank. Most commonly used additions are bentonite , isinglass (fish glue), chitosan (chitin derivative) and albumin (egg white).
5. Ripening and bottling
Wine immediately after the fermentation and clarification process does not taste very well yet. That is why the wine producers always let the wine mature first. This can be done in a wooden barrel, where the choice of the type of wood influences the final taste. The most commonly used type of wood is oak. The maturing process can also take place in the bottle itself.
When is a wine vegan?
The fermentation process uses yeast, a living organism. Barring very strict vegans, yeast is considered vegan as there is no exploitation and abuse of an animal.
In the clarification process of the wine, in addition to filtering the liquid, a substance is added to make the process more efficient. In most cases this substance is not vegan like the fish glue and the chitin. But of course there are also vegan options for the clarifying wine , in most cases a form of clay: bentonite, (activated) carbon, limestone, silica gel or vegetable gelatin, made from potatoes.
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