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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Is wine just an alcoholic beverage made by the fermentation of grapes? No, wine is that essential quotient for the perfect evening with loved ones, memorable candlelight dinners, romantic getaways, of poetry and dreams. An engagement ring in a glass of sparkling red wine had sealed many a marriage, with most of the work being done with wine making the drinker pleasantly content with a warm feeling. Knowledge of the aroma and taste of the wine, its background and characteristics and its special traits will go a long way in making a favourable impression last a long, long time.

Red Wine is made almost exclusively from black or dark grapes, the colour coming from the skins, which is crushed together with the grapes to give the distinctive red colour, and stored in wooden casks for the flavour. Classified as a light wine, the red wine is certainly the most popular, with an alcohol content of 10-14%, giving a relaxing, mellow taste without knocking the drinker out. The tannin content in the skin gives the distinctive taste of the wine. Basic knowledge of wines and their flavours is considered a must in social circles nowadays.

The individual wine's particular red hue depends on the kind of grapes used in the process and the length of time the pigment in the grape skin is in contact with juice. Some vintage wines cost thousands of dollars for a bottle and are a collector's item, with the term 'vintage 'meaning grapes that were grown and bottled in a particular year, and labeled likewise.

Beware of wine and women, runs the old saying and similarly wines are classified by body-type, wines can be light bodied, medium bodied or full bodied... on basis on increasing tannin and alcohol content. Around 50 key red wine varieties that manifest themselves in today's worldwide wine market consistently, they include the expensive and famous wines like Chianti and Bordeaux, which are names of region, as in the case of European wines which are classified by where the grapes are grown, while the non-European wines are classified by grape type, like Pinot Noir and Merlot.

Serving and drinking red wine is also an art, as is wine tasting and classification. Red wine glasses are bigger in diameter and narrower towards the top. The glass is usually filled one-thirds, leaving room for the wine to be swirled gently in the glass to bring out its fragrance. Red wine tastes best when it is allowed to breathe, too hot a climate can bring out the alcohol flavour, too cold can make them taste bitter. The right temperature for serving the red wine is 60-65 deg Fahrenheit. Some wines like the Chinon are served chilled as they are already highly aromatic.

Chemicals that occur in the wine during the natural fermentation process have many health benefits, including reduced heart disease and cancer protection. The grape seeds and skins also produce antioxidants and studies are still on to research the various benefits of red wine. The French, who are traditional wine drinkers have very low heart disease rate which is attributed to the chemical called procyanidins which do not allow the blood vessels to constrict.

By James Copper

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