Wine (from Latin vinum) is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes, generally.
Grapes ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, water, or other nutrients, as yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine. These variations result from the complex interactions between the biochemical development of the grape, the reactions involved in fermentation, the terroir (the special characteristics imparted by geography, geology, climate, viticultural methods and plant genetics), and the production process.
Many countries define legal appellations intended to define styles and qualities of wine; these typically restrict the geographical origin and permitted varieties of grapes, as well as other aspects of wine production.
There are also wines made from fermenting other fruits or cereals, whose names often specify their base, with some having specific names. Wines made from plants other than grapes include rice wine and various fruit wines such as those made from plums or cherries. Some well known example are hard cider from apples, perry from pears, pomegranate wine, and elderberry wine.
Wine is a popular and important beverage that accompanies and enhances a wide range of cuisines, from the simple and traditional stews to the most sophisticated and complex haute cuisines. Wine is often served with dinner.
Sweet dessert wines may be served with the dessert course. In fine restaurants in Western countries, wine typically accompanies dinner. At a restaurant, patrons are helped to make good food-wine pairings by the restaurant’s sommelier or wine waiter. Individuals dining at home may use wine guides to help make food-wine pairings. Wine is also drunk without the accompaniment of a meal in wine bars or with a selection of cheeses (at a wine and cheese party).
Wine has been produced for thousands of years. The earliest known evidence of wine comes from Georgia (Caucasus), where 8000-year-old wine jars were found.
Traces of wine have also been found in Iran with 7000-year-old wine jars and in Armenia, in the 6100-year old Areni-1 winery, the earliest known winery.
Wine had reached the Balkans by c. 4500 BC and was consumed and celebrated in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. Throughout history, wine has been consumed for its intoxicating effects, which are evident at normal serving sizes.
Wine is usually made from one or more varieties of the European species Vitis vinifera, such as Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay and Merlot. When one of these varieties is used as the predominant grape (usually defined by law as minimums of 75% to 85%), the result is a “varietal” as opposed to a “blended” wine. Blended wines are not considered inferior to varietal wines, rather they are a different style of winemaking; some of the world’s most highly regarded wines, from regions like Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley, are blended from different grape varieties.
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