Historical background of Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting the juice of freshly gathered grapes. There are over 4000 varieties of grapes, however, only 40 of them have a recognizable flavour. Want to know What is wine is made from? Wine is made from wine grape, botanic name Vitis Vinefera, in Europe. Other vine species such as Vitis Labrusca, Vitis Rupestris, Vitis Riparia, Vitis Berlandieri are all species found in America and form the foundation of American rootstock to which the grafts are attached. Its life spans much the same as for man. The grape vine yields fruit of varying quality and quantity throughout its life given good conditions and in area free from pests and diseases.
Virtually all the wine producing areas of the world is located between 30º - 50º latitude in both hemispheres. Ancient civilisation and their recorded histories were established in the northern hemisphere so it is referred as ' Old world', this includes countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany. 'New world' refers to those counties that were discovered and colonised after 15th century, this would include Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and America.
Art of wine making was developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, they were the ones responsible for spreading it to Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and Central Europe. The Romans established all the vineyards in the old world.
Spaniards and Portuguese dominated the colonisation of new world in Southern hemisphere, taking with them in their ships all that was needed to set up their new homes, including seeds and vines for planting.
Vineyards were well established in South America by early 1500's and commercial wine was being exported to other parts of South and Central America such as Peru, Mexico, Chile and Argentina by 1600.
The Spanish colonisers were responsible for setting up vineyards in North America and upwards on the Pacific coast in what is now California.
The Dutch traders and seafarers used their Dutch East Indies fleet to explore, settle and trade in Africa. They also were the ones to set up vineyards in Africa in early 1600.
It was in the 18th century that the British who colonised in Australia and New Zealand introduced the art of winemaking. Australian vineyards were productive by the end of 1700's.
Factors affecting Quality of Wine
There are many factors that determine quality of wine. The same grape grown in same area can make two totally different wines, yet different grapes grown apart can produce wines that are very similar. A term commonly used to describe these factors is 'terroir', which is a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making technology, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine. So now you know What is terroir.
Among many factors responsible for quality of wine, some of the very important ones are:
• Climate, soil and terrain
• Grape variety – size, skin and the sugar content
• Method of cultivation – 'viticulture'
• Yeast and fermentation
• Method of wine making – 'vinification'
• Ageing and maturing process
• Bottling and storage