What Are Some Common Wine Components?

The fine craft of winemaking is a very complicated one, but there are common components shared in the wine process. Here are some of the basics that apply to all wines no matter where they are made.

Tannins serve as a natural preservative and are important in wines made to age. They come from the pips, skins and stalks, giving the wine structure. They can be sensed by the wine’s feel in the mouth, making it feel dry or rough, as a similar sensation one might experience when drinking tea. Tannins are more important in the aging of red wines rather than whites, as they help fruit flavors develop over time and may get softer with age. When tasting a wine, the tannins are often described as harsh, soft or chalky.

Acidity is a common trait in fruit, particularly oranges, grapefruits or lemons, but grapes have acidity too. The right amount of acidity in wine gives it a balanced flavor, without it being too dull or too sour. Wines from cooler regions like France, England or New Zealand usually have higher acidity, while wines from warmer regions like Australia have lower acidity.

Alcohol in wine is the byproduct of fermentation of grape sugars by yeast. The amount of sugar in the grapes will determine its final alcohol level. In cooler climates, the grapes do not ripen as easily and the sugar content is much lower than in grapes in warmer climates. Many winemakers pay careful attention to the fermentation process, as it can change the flavors in the wine if not done properly. Cultured yeast strains can also introduce foreign flavors to wine that may not be preferable.

California chardonnay comes to mind when thinking of oak barrel aging, which gives the wine its buttery feature. Several wines are matured and even fermented in oak barrels and depending upon where the oak is from, the characteristics may be different. Additionally, there are many other factors, including how much oak is used, whether it is new or reused, how long the wine is in contact with the wood and whether it is aged or fermented. ‘Toasted’ barrels that are formed around a fire may give the wine smokiness, while steamed barrels may give the aroma of oatmeal.

Source: The Wine Doctor

See our blog post on wine tastings for more helpful wine information.

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