Wine

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16th-century wine press.

Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast consumes the sugars in the grapes and converts them into alcohol. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different types of wine.
Wines made from other fruits, such as apples and berries, are usually named after the fruit from which they are produced (for example, apple wine or elderberry wine) and are generically called fruit wine or country wine (not to be confused with the French term vin de pays). Others, such as barley wine and rice wine (i.e., sake), are made from starch-based materials and resemble beer and spirit more than wine, while ginger wine is fortified with brandy. In these cases, the term “wine” refers to the higher alcohol content rather than the production process. The commercial use of the English word “wine” (and its equivalent in other languages) is protected by law in many jurisdictions.
Wine has a rich history dating back thousands of years, with the earliest known production occurring around 8,000 years ago on the territory of modern-day Georgia. It first appeared in the Balkans at about 4500 BC and was very common in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. Wine has also played an important role in religion throughout history. The Greek god Dionysus and the Roman equivalent Bacchus represented wine.

Etymology

Greek οῖνος – oînos, Aeolic Greek οίνος – woinos
The earliest attested terms referring to wine are the Mycenaean Greek me-tu-wo ne-wo meaning “the month of new wine” or “festival of the new wine” and wo-no-wa-ti-si meaning “wine garden”, written in Linear B inscriptions.

Health effects

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Wine boy at a symposium.

Although excessive alcohol consumption has adverse health effects, epidemiological studies have consistently demonstrated that moderate consumption of alcohol and wine is statistically associated with a decrease in death due to cardiovascular events such as heart failure according to additional news reports on the French Paradox. The French paradox refers to the comparatively lower incidence of coronary heart disease in France despite high levels of saturated fat in the traditional French diet. Some epidemiologists suspect that this difference is due to the higher consumption of wines by the French, but the scientific evidence for this theory is limited. The average moderate wine drinker is more likely to exercise more, to be more health conscious, and to be of a higher educational and socioeconomic class, evidence that the association between moderate wine drinking and health may be related to confounding factors.

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Georgian Kvevri ancient wine vessel

Population studies have observed a J curve association between wine consumption and the risk of heart disease. This means that heavy drinkers have an elevated risk, while moderate drinkers (at most two five-ounce servings of wine per day) have a lower risk than non-drinkers. Studies have also found that moderate consumption of other alcoholic beverages may be cardioprotective, although the association is considerably stronger for wine. Also, some studies have found increased health benefits for red wine over white wine, though other studies have found no difference. Red wine contains more polyphenols than white wine, and these are thought to be particularly protective against cardiovascular disease.
A chemical in red wine called resveratrol has been shown to have both cardioprotective and chemoprotective effects in animal studies. Low doses of resveratrol in the diet of middle-aged mice has a widespread influence on the genetic levers of aging and may confer special protection on the heart. Specifically, low doses of resveratrol mimic the effects of what is known as caloric restriction – diets with 20–30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet. Resveratrol is produced naturally by grape skins in response to fungal infection, including exposure to yeast during fermentation. As white wine has minimal contact with grape skins during this process, it generally contains lower levels of the chemical. Other beneficial compounds in wine include other polyphenols, antioxidants, and flavonoids.
To fully get the benefits of resveratrol in wines, it is recommended to sip slowly when drinking wines. Due to inactivation in the gut and liver, most of the resveratrol in imbibed red wine does not reach the blood circulation. However, when sipping slowly, absorption via the mucous membranes in the mouth can result in up to around 100 times the blood levels of resveratrol.
Red wines from the south of France and from Sardinia in Italy have been found to have the highest levels of procyanidins, which are compounds in grape seeds suspected to be responsible for red wine’s heart benefits. Red wines from these areas have between two and four times as much procyanidins as other red wines. Procyanidins suppress the synthesis of a peptide called endothelin-1 that constricts blood vessels.

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Pressing wine after the harvest; Tacuinum Sanitatis, 14th century

A 2007 study found that both red and white wines are effective anti-bacterial agents against strains of Streptococcus. Also, a report in the October 2008 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, posits that moderate consumption of red wine may decrease the risk of lung cancer in men.
While evidence from laboratory and epidemiological (observational) studies suggest a cardioprotective effect, no controlled studies have been completed on the effect of alcoholic drinks on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause cirrhosis of the liver and alcoholism; the American Heart Association cautions people to “consult your doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.”
Wine’s effect on the brain is also under study. One study concluded that wine made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Another study concluded that among alcoholics, wine damages the hippocampus to a greater degree than other alcoholic beverages.
Sulfites are present in all wines and are formed as a natural product of the fermentation process, and many wine producers add sulfur dioxide in order to help preserve wine. Sulfur dioxide is also added to foods such as dried apricots and orange juice. The level of added sulphites varies, and some wines have been marketed with low sulphite content. Sulphites in wine can cause some people, particularly those with asthma, to have adverse reactions.
A study of women in the United Kingdom, called The Million Women Study, concluded that moderate alcohol consumption can increase the risk of certain cancers, including breast, pharynx and liver cancer. This has led the lead author of the study, Professor Valerie Beral, to assert that there is not enough evidence to conclude that any positive health effects of red wine outweigh the risk of cancer, and is quoted as saying, “It’s an absolute myth that red wine is good for you.” Professor Roger Corder, author of The Red Wine Diet, counters that two small glasses of a very tannic, procyanadin rich wine would confer a benefit, although “most supermarket wines are low procyanadin and high alcohol.”

Storage

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Wine grapes on a vine

Wine cellars, or wine rooms if they are above-ground, are places designed specifically for the storage and aging of wine. In an active wine cellar, temperature and humidity are maintained by a climate control system. Passive wine cellars are not climate-controlled, and so must be carefully located. Wine is a natural, perishable food product; when exposed to heat, light, vibration or fluctuations in temperature and humidity, all types of wine, including red, white, sparkling, and fortified, can spoil. When properly stored, wines can maintain their quality and in some cases improve in aroma, flavor, and complexity as they age. Some wine experts contend that the optimal temperature for aging wine is 55 °F (13 °C), others 59 °F (15 °C). Wine refrigerators offer an alternative to wine cellars. They are available in capacities ranging from small 16-bottle units to furniture pieces that can contain 400 bottles. Wine refrigerators are not ideal for aging, but rather serve to chill wine to the perfect temperature for drinking. These refrigerators keep the humidity low, usually under 50%, which is below the optimal humidity of 50% to 70%. Lower humidity levels can dry corks out over time, allowing oxygen to enter the bottle and reduce the wine’s quality.

Source and  References http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine

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