What is wine made of?

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Zeena de que está hecho el vino

So what is wine made of? A very simple question to start with, to which most of you will probably know the answer: grapes. That’s why when doctors tell us to eat fruit at least once a day we drink a Zeena… they definitely should be more specific.

But we can definitely go into more details… Are you ready?

Yes, wine is made from grapes, but the fermentation process of the fruit and the biochemistry happening make the composition of wine a little more complex. Just for the record: wine has more than 1,000 aromatic components.! Half of them are produced during the alcoholic fermentation by yeasts. Some of the aromas immediately appear, for example directly when opening the can, and others are only noticeable with some agitation. Some wines evolve and change their taste with the passage of time, hence the phrase “some wines improve with age”. I would say that we are the type of people that improve with wine… But back to the subject of wines that change over time, this is because their components join with others to form new, heavier molecules, which in the most extreme case become insoluble producing tannic sediments or tartrate crystals. Some call them wine diamonds, they appear at the bottom of the glass, but do not worry, they don’t do any harm.

Let’s get down to business… Let’s get down to what is really important, what are the components of wine?

 

Water

The most important component of wine is the biological water from the grapes. Depending on the alcohol content, its proportions vary (between 75% and 90%). The higher the alcohol content, the lower the water content. 

Let’s get hydrated! 

Ethyl alcohol

It represents 10-15% of the wine’s composition and originates from alcoholic fermentation. Ethanol gives the wine body and density.

Glycerol

This is another type of alcohol. It is an organic compound, liquid, colorless, odorless and sweet. It contributes to the silkiness, consistency and body of the wine and gives it a certain sweetness. There are other alcohols (below one gram per liter), such as propanol, methanol, isobutanol, sorbitol and phenylethanol. Although they may sound like medicines, they are the ones that participate in the aroma of wines. 

Acids

Grapes contain certain acids such as malic, tartaric and a small amount of citric acid. Through malolactic fermentation, malic acid is transformed into lactic acid. 

Glucose and fructose

Grapes contain glucose and fructose, which are transformed into alcohol during fermentation. The small amount that remains untransformed is known as residual sugar. Sometimes winemakers decide during the winemaking process to stop this process in order to increase the amounts of residual sugar, and thus produce sweeter wines, such as semi-dry wines. 

Phenolic compounds

The highest concentrations are found in the skins and pips. They are responsible for giving the wine its beautiful color, bitter astringent taste, body, smoothness and aromas. A must! The differences between white and red wine are due to these substances. 

Salts and Mineral Components

From 2 to 4 grams per liter of salts of mineral acids and some organic acids are the components of wine, and those that enhance certain flavors and certain sensations such as freshness.

Vitamins

Wine contains several vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinamide… among others. 

In short, everything in wine is good, and not to brag, but… it’s also delicious! It’s all advantages, that’s for sure! But please remember, you should always drink in moderation…

Cheers! 

Tuesday January 25th, 2022

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