Wine 101: What is Wine?

By Gregory Dal Piaz,

Wine is not only a great way to complement a good meal, it's also filled with health benefits, according to many research studies. But what makes this beverage so great?

At its core, wine is composed of water, alcohol, aromatic compounds, acids, and tannins. All of these individual elements add something unique to that glass of vino you're enjoying. So let's break it down:

1. Grapes
Wines start with grapes, some even end with grapes, since the yeast needed to convert the grapes' sugar to alcohol is frequently found on the skin of each berry. White grapes make white wines. But "white grapes" are usually green or yellow in hue, and some are even pink or red. Extremely few grapes actually have red flesh, so the color of the grape refers to the skin on the grape. White wines can even be made from red grapes, as well as Rosé and red wine.

There are several varieties of grapes as well. Those that make some of the more popular white wines include Albariño, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris (or Pinot Grigio), Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. The more popular red wine grapes are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah (or Shiraz) and Zinfandel. Many lovely rosés are made with blends but some of the more dominant grapes for rosé include Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Next: Yeast »

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