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Wine Making - Ingredients

May 25, 2008
Everyone will probably agree that there is no in¬gredient more suitable for making wine than the grape. Wherever the vine will grow mankind makes wine from its fruit. Almost everywhere man has settled he has taken the vine with him to plant and make his wine. So 'what's in a grape?' The analysts report the average contents as follows:

Water 70 - 85%
Glucose 8 - 13%
Fructose 7 - 12%
Tartaric acid 0.2 - 1.0%
Malic 0.1 - 0.8%
Citric 0.1 - 0.8%
Citric 0.01 - 0.05%
Tannins 0.01 - 0.10%

But there are also important trace elements often lacking in other ingredients. Twenty-one different kinds of amino acids, nitrogenous compounds and vitamins including many of the B group, thiamine, riboflavin, pyrodoxine, pantothenic acid, biotin, nico¬tine acid and many more. Minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Black grapes have anthocyanin in their skin to give that beloved robe, and white grapes have anthoxanthins and flavours. Bouquet comes from the volatile aroma constituents including ethyl and methyl alcohol, ethyl and methyl acetate, acetaldehyde and B-phenyl and ethyl alcohol. But this list is by no means ex-haustive and some varieties of grape have individual differences of content. That is why almost all vignerons grow several varieties of grapes and blend them to¬gether to make their wine. Not all grape varieties are ideal for making wine, however. Some are best eaten, others are best dried. Some make a wine that it is best to distil into brandy. Some make great wine, some alas, make poor wine.

Indeed, certain other fruits make better wine than poor grapes -- apples, gooseberries, bilberries and blackberries to mention but four examples. Virtually every fruit will make wine, although, as with grapes, some make better wine than others. Wherever possible only the best fruit should be used. Generally speaking the better the fruit the better the wine. Fruit is best for wine when it is just ripe, or just under¬ripe, rather than over-ripe. Cooking varieties usually make better wine than dessert varieties. Apart from this almost nothing is known about the merits of one variety of fruit compared with another. For this i reason it is always advantageous to use several varieties of the same fruit if possible. Each variety will contribute some traces of different constituents. This concept may be carried yet further and a blend of different fruits used. In this way one can obtain juice from one, acid from another, tannin from a third, sugar from a fourth, body from a fifth, flavour from a sixth and so on. Superb wines can be made in this way.

Frozen fruit, when thawed, make wine just as well as fresh fruit, with the added advantage that they are easier to mash. Canned and bottled fruits may also be used. They are usually packed in a sugar syrup that should be used in the must .because it also con¬tains a good deal of fruit flavour. It is always neces¬sary to check the specific gravity of such a must before adding extra sugar.

Fruit juices and purees are equally suitable pro¬vided they contain neither saccharin nor preservative. Dried fruits have been a great stand-by to the amateur winemaker for many years. All of them make good wine but the quantity to use depends on their flavour and the comparison between their dried weight and their fresh weight. Apricots and figs, for example, are highly flavoured and this becomes very concentrated upon dehydration. Citrus peel is not suitable because it contains pith that makes the wine bitter.

Jams, conserves and pie fillings are eligible in¬gredients for winemaking. Jams contain a good deal of sugar and therefore much less needs to be added. They also contain much pectin and so a double quantity of pectolytic enzyme should be added and left in the must for 24-48 hours. Marmalade is not usually suitable since it frequently contains the whole of the orange skin including the pith.

Some vegetables are suitable for making wine. They should be fresh and fully grown, not old and withered. Full bodied wines are usually made from root vegetables and they tend to be best when strong and sweet. The surface vegetables tend to make lighter wines. All need acid, tannin and grape to give them some vinosity.

Grains may also be used, although they tend not to make very palatable wines on their own. All need the grape to give them a little vinosity. Some diastase should be added instead of pectolase. This reduces the starch to fermentable sugars. Flaked grains are better for winemaking than whole grains.

A number of flowers and herbs may be used either fresh or dried. Many flowers are poisonous, however, and details of these are provided. Some leaves, such as those from the vine, walnut and oak trees and sap from the birch and sycamore trees, may also be used.

There remain yet other ingredients which can be used for flavouring wine, notably ginger, coffee, tea and vanilla pods. Aniseed, caraway, clove and coriander have also been used.
About the Author
John Gygax is an Expert in Wine, Wine Bars Blackpool, Estwing and Karcher Pressure Washer
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