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Wine Making - What Ingredients Part 1

May 25, 2008
Water

It is essential that all water used in making wine be pure and wholesome. It doesn't seem to matter if the water is hard or soft; at least, no significant difference has ever been noted. There is a body of opinion in favour of using boiled water. It not only precipitates some calcium carbonate but also sterilises the water beyond doubt and dissipates any dissolved gases, such as chlorine, used in purification. Spring water is highly regarded, but well water is often thought to be suspect, and boiling is recommended. Rain water should never be used without first filtering it through a sterile chamois cloth and boiling it thoroughly. It often contains sulphur impurities. Distilled water is not recommended since it lacks trace elements of mineral salts so often beneficial to the yeast.

When adding water to a fruit must, it should be remembered that fruit consists mainly of water. If the fruit is well crushed and pressed, up to 80% of its weight can be extracted with equipment suitable for use in the home.

Water is added not only to dilute acids but also to leach out flavour, sugar and body, as well as all the nourishment. Some ingredients such as vegetables need to be boiled for this purpose.

Flavour

Flavour is a combination of taste, odour and texture. There are four main tastes -- salt, sweet, sour, bitter -- and three ancillary ones -- metallic, fatty and alkaline. Odours have been categorised into five groups -- ethereal, camphory, floral, musky and minty. Texture in this context, refers primarily to the degree of 'thickness'.

Flavour naturally differs with every ingredient and from one year to another, or one place to another with the same ingredient. In some fruits, flowers and vegetables it is very strong and to avoid an over¬whelming flavour care must be taken not to use too much of the same ingredient. By reducing the quantity of fruit to obtain a satisfactory flavour the total body, acid and nourishment are also reduced and these must then be added to make a balanced must.

In some soft fruits there is a flavour change during fermentation due partly to the withdrawal of sweetness from the flavour. Wines made from these in¬gredients taste better sweet than dry.

Concentration sometimes has the same effect and this is noticeable in rosehip syrup. Dried herbs and dried flowers are also extremely concentrated in flavour and a very small packet goes a long way.

Opinions differ on the merit of using boiling water to assist in the extraction of flavour. Whilst there are many who use this method with excellent results there are others who prefer to use cold water, arguing that this does not dissipate any of the flavour or volatile acids of the ingredients. By fermenting a must on the pulp, the alcohol helps to extract the flavour and 4 or 5 days is usually sufficient. Furthermore, the off-coming carbon dioxide helps to prevent the invasion of spoilage micro-organisms.
About the Author
John Gygax is an Expert in Wine, Wine Bars Blackpool, Bosch and Scheppach
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