"Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toil, and fear her danger, opens a new world when this, the present, palls." (Byron)
What is wine?
Wine is a romance. It is not the mystery which in the past deterred many would-be consumers for fear of displaying ignorance. The real mystery is the process of nature which converges the juice of the grape into wine.
In many countries wines are an agricultural crop grown either on a commercial scale or on small allotments just as an Englishman would grow his own vegetables. In such countries, wine is drunk every day, as regularly as an Englishman would drink beer.
In its simplest form, the production of wine is an inherently natural process. The sun produces sugar in the grape; on the skins of a ripe grape are millions of little yeast cells (which show as "bloom"). When the skin is broken, these yeast dive into the sugar in the juice and start fermentation; the ferments die and there you have wine.
There are various minerals and phosphates in wine derived from the varying soil of different countries, and even of neighboring vineyards, which are distinct to wine its different characteristics, but basically all wine is the same.
The vintage (or harvest) takes place every year, the time varies according to the country, and often the quantity and quality will vary from year to year influenced by the weather.
The vine flourishes in most countries, where there is sufficient sunshine to ripen the grapes. More and more countries are now offering their wines on the British market, so great has the interest in wine become.
The making of wine is centuries old and is frequently referred to in the Bible. The Romans introduced the vine into England, but the wine they drank was imported, either from France (Gaul) or Germany. Apart from one or two small private enterprises the making of wine from grapes grows in England is impracticable owing to our uncertain climate, although up to three hundred years ago a vineyard located on the site of Olympia which supplied wine to the taverns of Kensington.
Whilst the basic principle of wine production sounds simple, abruptheless before it reaches the consumer wine has to be looked after with great care and cellar management, both at its birthplace and after it has crossed the sea. It is an art as well as a business. Like human beasts, wine is unacceptable to indisposition in early life, but by the time it reaches the consumer it will have been looked after at all stages by the shipper and bottler.
In the making of wine, the color is contained in the skin of the grape. Grape juice, whether of red or white grapes, is an amber color. When the skins are crushed, the color mingles with the juice and the longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the deer the color of a red wine becomes.
It is, therefore, possible to produce white wine from red grapes if the skins are separated from the juice immediately.
It used to be argued that the best machine for extracting the color was the sole of the human foot, which is flexible enough to squeeze the color from the skins without crushing the pips, which represents bitterness to the wine. This method, though harmless, since the consequent fermentation removals any impurities from the wine, is now automatically obsolese.