Wine is 85% water, and it has an average of 12% alcohol. This means water and alcohol comprise around 97% of any bottle of wine; the rest is the best part: acids, sugars, pigments, and plant matter that give the wine its color, taste, texture, and luscious aroma.
The Caucasus is an area that lies between the Black Sea (and the Caspian Sea) and Vitis Vinifera vines. These grapes have been used in winemaking for over 8000 years.
The Phoenicians, merchant civilizations, discovered the value of the spirituous liquid and spread it throughout the Mediterranean basin. The Greeks were well-versed in wine and took it across Europe. Romans also knew a lot about wine but to a much greater extent. Vinifera vines quickly populated the globe and were able to adapt to the different climates of each continent.
The natural adaptation of the vine to changing weather and altitudes resulted in different varieties being born. The Iberian Peninsula was home to the ever-popular Tempranillo. Many other varieties were adopted by the French territories, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Italy’s perfect climate resulted in a few hundred varieties of grapes. We recognize Sangiovese and Nebbiolo as the best.
The New World of Wines
European colonizers brought their grapes to South Africa, the Americas, and Australia. Wine has become a part of everyday life for many people and has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Grapes require a specific climate to thrive. Not every country can provide it. Grapes are grown on the American continent. This adaptable and lucrative crop was first introduced to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and China.
France and Spain have the second-most vine-planted hectares today, followed by Italy. Australia, Germany and Portugal round out the list.
Wine can be made from different grapes and countries, but that is not all that makes a bottle of wine unique. All wines are not created equal. The majority of wine is straightforward to drink. It lacks a sense of complex aromas. Ernest Gallo Winery in California is the largest producer of wine, and its strength lies in the supermarket.
What is Fine Wine?
Fine wine is rarer and therefore commands higher prices. Grape prices can vary depending on the quality and provenance of grapes. California grapes can be as low as $500 or as high as $2,500, depending on the quality of the vineyard.
You can make wine in a variety of ways. It may be cost-efficient and industrial, which results in lower costs. Or it could be artisanal and labor-intensive, increasing the bottle price.
Why is it that some bottles are more expensive than a small car? Because the most expensive grapes, the ones that are age-worthy and complex, can cost quite a bit. And artisanal winemaking, which may include high-end oak barrels, isn’t cheap. You can make a wine collector’s item by adding the winemaker’s reputation to the recipe. People will pay top dollar for it.
Is there a better way?
There are many ways to talk wine. There are many ways to talk about wine: history, chemistry and agriculture. The answer to the question “What’s wine?” should be given in a most beneficial way to the person asking it. We have a wine school.