It's totally okay if all you know up to this point about wine is that it comes from grapes. Everyone has got to start somewhere right? While grapes make up the overwhelmingly large base for what we think of as wine, wine can technically be made from any fruit. My good friend Joe has a fondness for homemade persimmon wine, and I've had some really delicious plum wines! But today, we're going to talk about wine made from grapes.
SO WILL ANY OLD GRAPE WORK?
Well, strictly speaking, yes, but you probably wouldn't like the result. Wine-making grapes are very different from the kind of grapes that you can find at the grocery store. They are much smaller and sweeter than the common table grape and are filled with more seeds. They also have a higher juice content, making them perfect for pressing and fermenting.
All wine grapes come from the Vitis vinifera species, which is the most cultivated species of grape in the world. There are thousands of varieties that fall under the Vitis vinifera species, with Cabernet Sauvignon being the most common.
WHAT'S IN THE BOTTLE?
Wine can be sold in single-varietal or blends. A single-varietal is made with mostly one variety of grape. Depending on the country and their regulations, that can range from 75% - 85% of one type of grape per bottle. Single-varietals are known mainly by the type of grape that makes it - so a bottle labeled Merlot is made from Merlot grapes, and a Chardonnay is made from Chardonnay grapes. However, even single-varietals can technically be considered a blend, whether it's because they contain a small percentage of other grapes or because the bottle includes the same type of grape but from several different vineyards.
Blends as we know them consist of several grape varieties, and is the traditional way of making wine. Blending is done to maximize the quality and complexity of the final product. Winemakers experiment until they find their preferred aroma, tasting notes, color, etc. It truly is an art form!
SPEAKING OF BOTTLES, WHAT'S WITH THE DIFFERENT SHAPES?
Wine bottles come in a few distinct shapes, and are characteristic of the different regions that the grape varieties traditionally came from.
The basic wine bottle shapes are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace/Mosel.
Bordeaux is the most common bottle shape. It has straight sides and high "shoulders". Cabernet Sauvignon is the most common wine you'll find in the Bordeaux shaped bottles, but you'll find lots of other varieties in this bottle as well.
Burgundy bottles have a wider base than the Bordeaux bottles, and have gently sloped shoulders. You'll typically find Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in a Burgundy bottle.
Alsace/Mosel bottles are taller and thinner than the other two, and have delicately sloped shoulders. This bottle is popular for Rieslings, and you'll typically find sweeter wines in this bottle shape.
These are some good basics to get you started. Learning about wine can be really fun, and we'll keep making posts that are simple yet informative to help you on your wine journey.
Verified Vine is written by the knowledgeable staff at WiFi Wine Bar & Shoppe.
Please note: Age verification is required for all wine shipments and deliveries. No one under 21 may purchase alcoholic beverages.