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Wine is an alcoholic beverage that is made by fermenting grapes or grape juice. The word, wine, comes from the Latin vinum (related to Greek ), which can mean either the "wine" or the "vine". Wine-like beverages can also be made from other fruits or from flowers, grains, and even honey, in which case, a qualifier has to be used; for example, elderberry wine . The word, wine, is protected by law, and always means grape wine
This article discusses grape wine. For non-grape wines, see country wine for fruit and flower wines, and mead for honey wine.
Wine is a popular and important beverage that accompanies and enhances a wide range of European and Mediterranean style cuisines, from the simple and traditional to the most sophisticated and complex. Red, white and sparkling wines are the most popular, and are also known as light wines, because they only contain approximately 10-14% alcohol. The aperitif and dessert wines contain 14-20% alcohol, and are fortified to make them richer and sweeter than the light wines. Although there are many classes of dinner wines, they are all used under six specific classes, as follows:
- aperitif (or better known as appetizer wines): include dry sherry, Madeira, Vermouth and other flavored wines, made to be consumed before eating a meal.
- red dinner wines: These wines are usually dry and go extremely well with such main-course dishes as red meats, spaghetti, and highly seasoned foods. They should be served at a cool room temperature to bring out their aroma. The most popular red dinner wines are claret, Burgundy, Chianti, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pink dinner wines (also called rose wines), a special class of red wines, can be served with almost any dish, but are considered best with cold meats, pork, and curries.
- white dinner wines: Usually either very dry or rather sweet, these wines should be served chilled, and go well with white meats, seafood, and fowl. They include Rhine wines, Chablis, sauterne, and wine made from different grape varieties such as Chardonnay and White Riesling.
- sparkling wines: Usually served at any meal with any course, these wines are most frequently served at banquets, formal dinners and weddings. The most common sparking wines are Champagne (white) and sparkling Burgundy (red).
- table wine: Table wine is not bubbly, although some have a very slight carbonation, the amount of which is not enough to disqualify them as table wines. According to US standards of identity, table wines may have an alcohol content that is no higher than 14 percent. In Europe, light wine must be within 8.5 percent and 14 percent alcohol by volume. As such, unless a wine has more than 14 percent alcohol, or it has bubbles, it is a table wine or a light wine.
- dessert wines: Ranging from medium-sweet to sweet, these wines are classified under dessert wines only because they are sometimes served with desserts. Among these wines are port, sweet sherry, Tokay, and muscatel.
The labels on certain bottles of wine suggest that they need to be set aside for an hour before drinking (ie. to breathe ), while other wines are recommended to be drunk as soon as they are opened. Breathing means allowing a wine to aerate before drinking. Generally, younger wines benefit from some aeration, while older wines do not. The word, younger , refers to the first one third of a wine s life, which varies from wine type to wine type and from wine to wine. For most white wines, younger means up to one to two years, while for red wines, they could mean as little as a few months, for a Nouveau Beaujolais, up to ten years for a hearty Barossa Shiraz. Older , on the other hand, refers to the last one third of their lives.
During aeration, the exposure of younger wines to air often relaxes the flavours and makes them taste slightly smooth and better integrated in aroma, texture, and flavor. Wines that are older generally fade (lose their character and flavor intensity) with extended aeration. Breathing, however, does not benefit all wines, and should not therefore be taken to the extreme. In general, wine should be tasted as soon as it is opened to determine how long it may be aerated, if at all. It should then be tasted every 15 minutes until the wine is, according to individual preference, ready to drink. As a general rule, younger white wines normally require no more than 15-30 minutes of aeration while younger red wines should be no more than 30-60 minutes. If in doubt, it is better to err on the side of too little aeration than too much.
Wine is also used in religious ceremonies in many cultures and the wine trade is of historical importance for many regions. The Scripture tells us that Jesus' very first miracle was to turn water into wine (John 2:1-11), and that this miracle manifested His glory and caused His disciples to believe in Him
Some wines are produced commercially as Cooking Wine, which is considerd by many to be extremely salty, and of a much lower grade than even Box Wine.
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