Grape Varietals

Wine is the fermented juice of grapes. Wine is produced after exposure of the Vitis vinfera grape to yeast. Wine contains its own unique library of compounds.

The high sugar contnet of V. vinfera is the reason it was chosen.

The conversion of grape sugars to ethanol is accomplished by yeast of the genus Saccharomyces.

The color of red wines comes from the skin of the grape not its juice..

The different varieties of V. vinifera have different skin pigments whose colors range from green-yellow to blue-black.

Grape Varietals

There are over 4,000 varieties of grapes with only a dozen or so used in winemaking. They are divided into white and red varietals depending on the skin color of the grape.

Red Varietals

Cabernet Sauvignon is the ‘noble red grape of Bordeaux and the dominant variety in the Medoc region of France.

The grape is used to create the very fashionable wines sought and collected by wine connoisseurs. 

The wine is made from a small grape with a very deep colour.  The phytocompounds embedded in the grapes gives the resulting wine a longevity and elegance. 

Gamay is the red grape of Beaujolais. Gamay produces fruity wines. Because of its library, Beaujolais wines do not age well and so are drunk early.

Merlot is the second 'noble' red grape of Bordeaux.

The grape provides what the industry calls a plummy soft texture.

Merlot is extremely popular throughout the world in both its blended and varietal forms. The Pomerol region of France has a Merlot grape that produces 'Château Pétrus, one of the world's most expensive wines.

Nebbiolo is the dark red grape of the Piemonte region of Northwest Italy.

Nebbiolo is used to make the great Barolo and Barbaresco wines.

The wines contain a rich bouquet of aroma tics . It has been described as black cherries and liquorice with the smell of leather.

Barolos take years to mature. The grape takes its name from the word nebbia or fog. For fog is frequently seen around the hills of Alba in Piemonte where the countryside is famous for its truffles.

Pinot Gris is known as Pinot Grigio in northern Italy and as the Rulander grape in Germany.

Pinot Noir is the hearty red grape of Burgundy. Piniot noir grapes are used to produce some of the world's most expensive wines. Their phenolic content provides elegance to these wines.

Sangiovese is a thin-skinned red grape of Tuscany.

The grape is used to make Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. The aromatics of the Sangiovese grape blends very well with those of Cabernet Sauvignon. This is evident by the great Tuscan Vini da Tavolas.

Zinfandel is California's most common red wine grape. It is used to produces red, white and rosé wines that vary from bone dry to sweet. Zinfandel does not blend well.

White Varietals

Chardonnay is the white grape of Burgundy and is used to produce the best known white wine in the world.

Chenin Blanc is the white grape of France's Loire Valley. Chenin Blanc wines tend to be more floral than fruity. It ages well and its susceptibility, to the fungus botrytis, produces some of the great sweet wines of the Loire Valley.

Gewurztraminer is the best known grape of Alsace where it is used to produce very aromatic wines with up to 14% alcohol. It is one of the few wines that complement oriental meals.

Muscat represents a family of over 200 grapes. They produce aromatic, full flavoured wines with a distinct musky flavor.

Pinot Blanc is known as Pinot Bianco in Italy and Weissburgunder in Germany. This white grape is used to produce fresh early drinking wines.

Riesling is Germany's white grape and appreciated all over the world. The grape is used to produce wines that vary from sweet to dry and from fresh and youthful to mature and mellow. Riesling wines have enormous ageing potential and incorporates the character of the specific region in which it is grown.

Sauvignon Blanc is a French white grape. It is combined with Semillon to make white Bordeaux wines.

Sémillon is thin-skinned grape of France. When combines with Sauvignon Blanc, it is used to make the white wines of Bordeaux such as the sweet dessert wines of Sauternes Its thin skin causes the grape to become susceptible to the fungus, botrytis. This produces the 'noble rot' famous in this sweet wine region.

Fermentation

The great Louis Pasteur of France opened the door to the microscopic world when he postulated the idea that microbes or microorganisms caused disease. He was instrumental to the development of vaccines as he proved how rabies can be prevented. He was the first one to postulate the role played by bacteria in disease. Besides the processing of milk that bares his name, the discovery that yeast were responsible for wine and beer fermentation is Pastuer’s legacy to the world. by him were as profound as any before him. He was also the first to offer a scientific explanation for the process of fermentation. He understood that the grape contains the yeast responsible for the fermentation of fruit sugar (fructose) to alcohol. This process is known as vinification. Wine yeast and wild yeast are embedded in the skin of the grape and are released with the puncture of the grape. The wine yeast initiates the breakdown of fructose and sets in motion the fermentation of the rest of a grape’s sugar. Fermentation produces hundreds of compounds. Those that have low molecular weights are aromatic compouns, which stimulate olfactory receptors when they leave the surface of the wine.

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