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Wine is an alcoholic beverage typically made of fermented grape juice. The natural chemical balance of grapes is such that they can ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast consumes the sugars found in the grapes and converts them into alcohol.

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Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are used depending on the type of wine being produced.  Although other fruits such as apples and berries can also be fermented, the resultant wines are normally named after the fruit from which they are produced (for example, apple wine or elderberry wine) and are generically known as 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 use of the term "wine" is a reference to the higher alcohol content, rather than production process.

The commercial use of the English word "wine" is protected by law in many jurisdictions.

Wine has a rich history dating back to around 6000 BC and is thought to have originated in areas now within the borders of Georgia and Iran. Wine probably appeared in Europe at about 4500 BC in what is now Bulgaria and Greece, and was very common in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. Wine has also played an important role in religion throughout history.

The Greek god Dionysos and the Roman equivalent Bacchus represented wine, and the drink is also used in Christian and Jewish ceremonies such as the Eucharist (also called the Holy Communion) and Kiddush. The word "wine" derives from the Proto-Germanic "*winam," an early borrowing from the Latin vinum, "wine" or "(grape) vine," itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem. Classification Regulations govern the classification and sale of wine in many regions of the world.

European wines tend to be classified by region (e.g. Bordeaux and Chianti), while non-European wines are most often classified by grape (e.g. Pinot Noir and Merlot). More and more, however, market recognition of particular regions is leading to their increased prominence on non-European wine labels. Examples of non-European recognized locales include Napa Valley in California, Willamette Valley in Oregon, Barossa Valley and Hunter Valley in Australia, Central Valley in Chile and Marlborough in New Zealand. Some blended wine names are marketing terms, and the use of these names is governed by trademark law rather than by specific wine laws. For example, Meritage (sounds like "heritage") is generally a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and may also include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.

Commercial use of the term "Meritage" is allowed only via licensing agreements with an organization called the "Meritage Association". Europe classification France has an appellation system based on the concept of terroir, with classifications which range from Vin de Table ("table wine") at the bottom, through Vin de Pays and Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) up to Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC). Portugal has something similar and, in fact, pioneered this technique back in 1756 with a royal charter which created the "Demarcated Douro Region" and regulated wine production and trade. Germany did likewise in 2002, although their system has not yet achieved the authority of those of the other countries'.
Spain and Italy have classifications which are based on a dual system of region of origin and quality of product. Beyond Europe New World wine—wines from outside of the traditional wine growing regions of Europe tend to be classified by grape rather than by terroir or region of origin, although there have been non-official attempts to classify them by quality.

Leading Wine Producing Countries South Africa The Dutch planted wine grapes in South Africa in the 1650s. It's sweet dessert wines gained international renown in 1700s. South Africa only recently began producing significant amounts of red and white table wines for the world market. Red wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz. White wines are made from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc. North America In the United States, wine production is an important industry only in California, Oregon, Washington, and New York. U.S. winemakers operate with more freedom from bureaucratic restrictions than European winemakers.
In the U.S. winemakers plant whatever grape variety they wish wherever they wish to plant it, and they blend grapes from different regions together as they like.

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California Premium wines are made up and down the whole length of California. The most important red grape varieties are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel. The most important white grape varieties are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. Oregon Unlike California, Oregon has no mountains standing bewtween the Pacific Ocean and its vineyards. This brings cooler temperatures and more rain to Oregon grapes.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the most abundantly planted grapes in Oregon, but Pinot Gris has been making headway for several years. Washington Although Washigton and Oregon are neighboring states, their wine growing regions have significantly different climates because the Cascade moutnain range separates most of Washington's vineyard land from the coolness and moisture of the Pacific Ocean. Washington's most prolific grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon,
Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. New York New York's most important wine region is the Finger Lakes area in the western part of the State. And its most important grape variety is Reisling, though other lesser known grapes (e.g. Concord and Catawba) are grown as well. South America Argentina Argentina produces more wine than any other South American country. Vineyards were planted their in the 1500s with grapes from a part of Europe later to be called Italy. White wines are made from Chardonnay,

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Chile's wines, however, lack the over-the-top fruitiness of California and Australian wines. Many of the red wines are offer fine value, but hte whites can be dilute and watery. Australia The wine industry in Australia has made great strides in production and international reputation in the last thirty years. Australia's land mass is nearly equal to the United States but it produces less than half as much wine as California. Red wines are made from Syrah (called 'Shiraz' in Australia) and Cabernet Sauvignon. White wines are made from Chardonnay, Reisling, and Semillon. Europe Compared to non-European, or New World wines, Europe's wines have many things in common. They are usually named for their place of production instead of their grape; European winemaking follows more traditional methods; the wines reflect local tastes more than international trends.

European wines embody the traditions of the people who make them and the flavors of eh earth from which they grow, compared to New World wines, which embody a grape variety. --McCarthy & Mulligan (1995). Wine for Dummies, p. 169 (IDG Books: Foster City, CA). France France has long set the standards for wines around the world. French wine consumption per person exceed that of any other country. Moreover, France is the place of origin for most of the greatest wine grapes found in other countries including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.
The wines from France's five greatest wine regions (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Loire, and Alsace) are listed below. Bordeaux Red Bordeaux are made from blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. White Bordeaux are made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle. Burgundy Red Burgundies are made from Pinot Noir. Beaujolais is made from Gamay.
White Burgundies and Chablis are made from Chardonnay. Rhone Red Rhones are made from Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Viognier. Whote Rhones are made from Viognier. Loire The Loire Valley is a major producer of white wine made from Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Alsace is a major producer of white eines made from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Germany Germany's cool climate makes it difficult for red grapes to ripen. Thus white wines are produced in much greater quantities. They are made from Riesling and Gewurztraminer grapes as well as less well known varieties such as Silvaner, Kerner, and Scheurebe. Italy Italy produces more wine than any other single country. Its best wines come from the northern regions of Piedmont, Tuscany and Tre Venezi, but wine grapes are grown and vinified all over the country.

Chianti is made from Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes. Valpolicella is made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes.

Instead of describing all of Italy's wine producing areas, which would require a lot of space (and effort), Italy's most important wines are lited below along with the grape varieties used to produce them. Italian Red Wines Barbaresco is made from Nebbiolo grapes. Barbera is made from Barbera grapes. Bardolino is made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. Barolo is made from Nebbiolo grapes. Brunello is made from Sangiovese grapes.

Italian White Wines Soave is made from Gargenaga and Trebbiano grapes. Other white wines are labelled by grape variety, including:

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Sauvignon Blanc

Spain has more acres under vine than any other country in the world. Much of it, however, is mediocre in quality and produced for daily domestic consumption. Thus, Spain's international reputation for wine has been out-shined by France and Italy for a long time. The wine produced in Spain's five most important regions are described below. Rioja Red wine from Rioja is primarily made from Tempranillo grapes. Most of it is aged in American oak barrels. Penedes Most of Spain's sparkling wines are made in Penedes. Still wines are made from Tempranillo as well as French grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Ribera del Duero.

The best known wines from Ribera del Duero are made from Tempranillo and blends of Tempranillo with Cabernet Sauvignon. In either case they tend to be dark, complex, tannic wines that require many years of aging before they are ready to drink. Rueda One of Spain's best white wines comes from Rueda. It is a fresh, crisp, dry wine made from Verdejo grapes. Rias Baixas Another intersting Soanish white is made from Albarino grapes. They yield lively, fruity wines of high acidity and depth of flavor. New Zealand Although the international success of Australian wines has given New Zealand an entry into the world wine market, New Zealand's wines differ significantly from those of Australia. Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in the warmer parts of New Zealand, but the Country is better known for its white wines made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Red wine glasses are wider, with a very large bowl, since red wine needs to be swirled around to come in contact with the oxygen, and benefit from a larger area of contact with the air. White Wine White wine glasses are tulip shaped. They are smaller than red wine glasses. The reduced surface area of contact with the wine prevents the white wine to warm up too fast. Sparkling Wine Sparkling wine glasses are small and flute shaped (tall and thin). The reduced surface area of contact keeps the wine colder and the flute shape allows for the proper development of bubbles.