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ETYM Old Eng. win, AS. win, from Latin vinum.
1. A red as dark as red wine; SYN. wine-colored.
2. Fermented juice (of grapes especially); SYN. vino.
Alcoholic beverage, usually made from fermented grape pulp, although wines have also traditionally been made from many other fruits such as damsons and elderberries. Red wine is the product of the grape with the skin; white wine of the inner pulp of the grape. The sugar content is converted to ethyl alcohol by the yeast Saccharomyces ellipsoideus, which lives on the skin of the grape. The largest wine-producing countries are Italy, France, Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, and Spain; others include almost all European countries, Australia, South Africa, the US, and Chile.
Types of wine.
For dry wine the fermentation is allowed to go on longer than for sweet or medium; champagne (sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France) is bottled while still fermenting, but other sparkling wines are artificially carbonated. Some wines are fortified with additional alcohol obtained from various sources, and with preservatives. Some of the latter may cause dangerous side effects (see additive). For this reason, organic wines, containing no preservatives, have recently become popular.
A vintage wine is produced during a good year (as regards quality of wine, produced by favorable weather conditions) in recognized vineyards of a particular area; France has a guarantee of origin (appellation controlée), as do Italy (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), Spain (Denominación Controllata), and Germany (a series of graded qualities running from Qualitätswein to Beerenauslese).
The greatest alcohol concentration that yeasts can tolerate is 16%; most wines have an alcohol content of 10–12%. Fortified wine has had alcohol added to bring the content up to about 20%. Such wines keep well because the alcohol kills microorganisms that spoil natural wines. Port, sherry, vermouth, Madeira, and Marsala are fortified after fermentation and Madeira is then heated gradually.
The yellowish tinge of white wine is caused by tannin contained in the wood of the cask, oxidized while the wine matures. Red wine is mainly made from black grapes, which have a blue-black pigment under the skin that turns red in the presence of acids in the grape juice during pressing. The alcohol in the fermentation dissolves the pigment, which is carried into the wine. Tannin in the skin imparts a bitter taste to the wine.
Vins rosés, pink, pale-red wines are produced in one of two ways. The grape juice, after a very brief fermentation with the skins to give it color, may be drawn off from them to ferment apart, or the grapes may be pressed as for white wine, and the must poured back on the marc (the solid matter) to ferment with it long enough to gain color.
To drink wine.