Wine Chemistry 101
While the science of wine is complicated, here’s a snap shot answer:
- The grape: Each grape has a unique flavor profile or set of characteristics. Much like apples, no two varieties taste exactly the same. Think Granny Smith vs Honey Crip vs Red Delicious and you will get the picture.
- Fermentation: All wine grapes under go full or partial fermentation, which is the process of allowing yeast to convert the grape sugar into alcohol. Sometimes this yeast is native to the vineyard just floating around, and sometimes winemakers buy cultured yeast and add it to the vat. Regardless of yeast choice, the process of fermentation generates specific sets of aromas, too. It also creates textures in the wine such as creaminess. (Do this….Swirl you wine in the glass and look to see if the tears that form cling to the glass. The more they cling, the slower they move signaling a fuller bodied wine in your glass.)
- Aging: Some wines are crafted for immediate consumption and they typical maintain their big fruit aromas because they are aged for a short period of time in an inert vessel – such as a glass bottle or stainless steel tanks. Other wines are put into an oak barrel for a period of time. Doing so helps to soften the wine a bit, but it also alters the mix of fruit aromas in the wine. Wine aged in oak oftentimes have vanilla, spice and nutty characteristics, as well as beautiful fruit.
They say that wine is alive in your cellar. And, in many ways, that is a truth. The molecules in the wine are continuously moving and changing in both barrel and bottle create new aromas along the way. Cheers!