This refers to the process, also known as vinification, with all the procedures and measures in the vineyard and cellar to produce a wine from grapes. Grape varieties were already cultivated and wine produced at least 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, as evidenced by plant remains found in Asia Minor and numerous ancient wine vessels and artefacts from many regions. Transcaucasia and the advanced civilisations of Mesopotamia are considered the cradle of wine culture. According to the latest research, however, the origin may also lie in neighbouring Turkish south-east Anatolia near the biblical mountain Ararat. The origin of European viticulture, however, lies primarily in ancient Greece and on the island of Crete. Of course, at that time this was done with rather primitive methods. This complex of topics is described under the keywords Ancient Wines, Ancient Grape Varieties as well as the development of the "cultural asset wine" under Drinking Culture.
Today, vinification is usually carried out with sophisticated methods and the use of additives. It is the art of the winemaker to use the "right" methods with the greatest care and hygiene or, if necessary, to do without them. In this context, one often hears and reads about "controlled idleness" or "as much as necessary and as little as possible" or about non-invasive winemaking. This is understood to mean gentle, low-stress production by relying as much as possible on gravity for the transport of grapes, must and wine, doing without certain techniques such as filtration or fining, or using as few or no substances as possible. The aim is therefore to use the 300 or so authorised substances in winemaking as correctly and sparingly as possible. In this context, traditional techniques for the production of natural wines, raw wines and orange wines have become popular again since the 1990s.
More and more producers are using environmentally friendly, sustainable forms of organic (ecological) viticulture, which strictly regulate the use of the designation organic wine by wine law and also affect not only vineyard work but also cellar techniques. Some are not uncontroversial or are only common/permitted in the New World, but are prohibited within the European Union for member countries.
The special conditions in a vineyard in connection with the tradition common in the area concerned and the art of the winemaker are often referred to by the French term terroir. Winemaking already begins with the selection of the grape variety and also the rootstock, which is chosen or planted on the basis of its individual characteristics, if possible taking into account the climatic conditions and the soil type. An absolute prerequisite for good quality is winegrowing suitability, i.e. the suitability of an area/region for winegrowing, for which there are a large number of measurable criteria. The individual selection of the necessary work in the vineyard has a special influence on the quality of the wine (the various possibilities are described under the keyword vineyard care ). This is aptly described by the catchphrase "quality is already created in the vineyard".
In contrast, the non-invasive principle described above applies to many winegrowers with regard to work in the cellar. However, just as in the vineyard, there are a variety of cellar techniques. Depending on the quality and type of wine, vinification can take only a few weeks or months for simple wines, but even several years for special products such as sparkling wine( champagne), dessert wines such as Madeira, port and sherry, as well as wines aged for a long time in traditional large wooden bar rels or in barrique barrels, until they can be bottled and marketed. For top wines with a long shelf life or ageing potential, the process continues with bottle ageing or the ageing process. Such wines only reach drinking maturity after an ageing process that often lasts many years.
Alphabetical list of all (mostly) wine, sparkling wine and distillate types regulated by wine law. Other beverages made from wine/fruit/grain products are also listed:
I have great respect for the scope and quality of the wein.plus encyclopaedia. It is a unique place to go for crisp, sound information on terms from the world of wine.Dr. Edgar Müller
Dozent, Önologe und Weinbauberater, Bad Kreuznach