The Basics of Wine


Wine is an alcoholic drink made from the juice of a grape. It comes in different flavors and types and is enjoyed all over the world.

Despite its high alcohol content, wine is considered safe to drink by most health experts. It contains many phenolic compounds that are antimicrobial, helping to prevent bacterial growth and infections.


The flavor of wine is a complex phenomenon. It is influenced by the environment where the grapes are grown, the fermentation process, and even by its age.

The basic flavors of wine include sweetness, fruit, and body. When tasting a sweet wine, you should focus on the taste buds on the tip of your tongue and notice if there is a slight tingling sensation.

You should also look for a slight oily sensation in the middle of your tongue that lingers. This is an indication that the wine is dry or sweet.

There are also several tertiary aromas, or bouquet scents that develop when the wine ages in bottle. These tertiary aromas are a result of oxygen and wine molecules coming into contact with each other during storage or aging. These aromatic changes can be gradual or sudden. Some of the typical tertiary aromas include leather, truffle, spices such as nutmeg or fennel, clove, forest floor, wood ashes, and grilled meats.


Wine’s body is the overall weight, texture and density of a wine. It’s not an indicator of quality, but it’s a way to describe the experience of drinking a particular wine.

Full-bodied wines have high alcohol levels and are very thick on the palate. They’re also high in tannins, which makes them mouth-drying and can cause unpleasant feelings.

Light-bodied wines are more delicate and lean, typically classified as crisp and refreshing. They have a lighter viscosity, or consistency, similar to that of water.

The amount of alcohol a wine has is the primary factor that influences its body. Wines with more than 13.5% alcohol are full-bodied.


Acidity in wine is a key component to a well-structured wine. It balances out sweet, sour, salty and fatty flavors.

All wines contain acids, primarily citric, malic and tartaric. These acids lend a sour and tart taste to the wine, varying according to grape variety and climate.

Cool climates produce high-acid wines (such as Riesling and brut Champagne), while warmer regions have low-acid wines. To deacidify these wines, winemakers use potassium or calcium carbonate.

Some low-acid wines may be treated with malolactic fermentation, a process that uses lactic bacteria to reduce the wine’s acidity. This technique is especially popular in Chardonnay and other light-bodied wines, where it can bring a buttery aroma and richness to the wine.

Alcohol Content

The alcohol content of wine varies depending on the type of grape, region and winemaker. During fermentation, yeast feeds on the natural sugars in grape juice to turn them into ethanol and carbon dioxide.

The higher the alcohol content, the more intense the flavor and body. Often, the wines in this category taste “bold” and feel “heavy.”

Alcohol can also come through as a “burning sensation” on the palate. This is the result of yeast metabolizing the alcohol to carbon dioxide and heat.

Global climate change has led to a rise in the amount of natural sugars available for yeast to convert into alcohol. This is largely because warmer temperatures have caused grapes to ripen quicker and create more sugars. This has helped winemakers produce wines with higher alcohol levels than they have in the past.

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