All the processes, techniques and measures used in the vineyard and cellar to produce wine from grapes. Grape varieties have been cultivated and wine has been produced for at least 6,000 if not 8,000 years, as evidenced by plant remains found in Asia Minor and numerous ancient wine vessels and artifacts from many regions. Transcaucasia and the advanced civilizations of Mesopotamia are considered the cradle of wine culture. The origin of European viticulture, however, lies mainly in ancient Greece and on the island of Crete. Of course, at that time this was done with rather primitive methods (see Antique Wines and Antique Grape Varieties and the development of the "cultural asset wine" under Drinking Culture). Interestingly, today some ancient techniques are again being used, as is the case with the production of Orange Wine (Natural Wine).
Today, the process also known as vinification is usually carried out using sophisticated methods. It is the winemaker's art to use the "right" methods with the greatest care and hygiene, or to refrain from using them if necessary; in this context, one often hears and reads of "controlled inactivity" or "as much as necessary and as little as possible" or of non-invasive winemaking. This is understood to mean a gentle, low-stress production process in which gravity is used as far as possible to transport grapes, must and wine, certain techniques such as filtration or fining are dispensed with, or as few or no substances as possible are used, including sulphur, which is hardly replaceable. It is therefore important to use the 300 or so permitted agents as correctly as possible in winemaking.
The special conditions in a vineyard in connection with the tradition and art of the winegrower in the area concerned are often referred to by the French term terroir. Vinification begins with the selection of the grape variety and also of the rootstock, which is chosen or planted according to its individual characteristics, taking into account the climatic conditions and the type of soil as much as possible. An absolute prerequisite for good quality is the wine-growing suitability, i.e. the suitability of a region/area for wine-growing, for which there are a number of measurable criteria. This continues with the care of the vineyard (keyword "quality already originates in the vineyard"), the different cellar techniques for each type of wine listed below, as well as the bottling process, and is only completed after a longer period of storage in the bottle before marketing.
Depending on the quality and type of wine, this can take only a few weeks or months for simple wines, but in the case of special products such as sparkling wine or champagne, dessert wines such as Madeira, port and sherry, and long wines aged in wooden casks or barriques, it can even take several years before they can be marketed. For top wines with a long shelf life or aging potential, the process continues with bottle aging or ageing. This means that such wines only reach their drinking maturity after often many years of ageing.
Under the keyword special wines there is a list of about 200 wines described in the present wine lexicon, often with imaginative names. Most of these, however, do not have any legal significance in terms of wine law, but only a locally limited traditional or colloquial meaning. These are for example bikini wine, fire wine, prison wine, spice wine, counter wine, pope wine, pistol wine, final wine, holiday wine, and second wine. Barrique wine, dessert wine, diabetic wine, kosher wine, mess wine, orange wine (not yet), sweet wine and vegetarian wine are also not relevant in terms of wine law, but only colloquial terms for certain types of wine.
Alphabetical list of all types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine legislation, including other drinks made from wine-growing or fruit-growing products
All wine law issues can be found under Wine Law, which also contains a list of all around 70 relevant keywords on this complex topic. These include, for example, designation regulations, labelling (optional and mandatory information), EU regulations, quality system (wine grades and designations) and quality wine grape varieties. The country-specific wine laws are listed under the approximately 100 countries (see a list under wine-growing countries).
More and more producers are using environmentally friendly, sustainable forms of production in organic (ecological) viticulture, which strictly regulate the use of the term organic wine by wine law and, in addition, not only concern the work in the vineyard but also the cellar technology. Some of them are not uncontroversial or only customary/permitted in the New World, but within the European Union they are forbidden for member countries.
The grape harvest is the last work in the vineyard (for all the steps before that, see under the keyword vineyard care). Then the long process of vinification begins with special quality control methods. The individual techniques are grouped according to the usual processing sequence. Within the groups they are arranged alphabetically for clarity, which of course does not correspond to the order during the processing. Depending on the type of wine, there are many alternative techniques in addition to the obligatory ones. Some are also carried out several times, for example the use of oenological enzymes, oxygen management and sulphur. The most common processing steps are in fat/red:
Finished fermented wine forms the basis for numerous other alcoholic beverages (sparkling wines and distillates). A comprehensive description of the production of sparkling wine with all the steps involved is available at Champagne contained:
In addition, there are also some not uncontroversial procedures, some of which can be assigned to the field of esotericism. These include the consideration of the phases of the moon and planetary positions as well as the acoustic irradiation with music waves in the vineyard and cellar within the framework of biodynamic and bioenergetic viticulture.
Particularly recommendable books on the subject area, which have also been used extensively as sources with the kind permission of the publishers, are
HR Dipl.-Ing. Robert Steidl Department of Wine Cellar Management / Dept. of Enology
Federal College and Federal Office for Wine and Fruit Growing Klosterneuburg Lower Austria
2001: Friedrich Meidinger, Dieter Blankenhorn, Edgar Funk
2012: Dieter Blankenhorn, Edgar Funk (begr. Friedrich Meininger) - 4th updated edition