The Evolution of Wine – A Brief Overview

The Evolution of Wine

In the Bible you often come across passages that mention wine. We can relate to this drink since it is commonly made today. However, is it really the same beverage that we now enjoy with a meal or relaxing with friends? Here are the facts that can make you see wine from a new perspective.

Traditional Wine Making

Wine making dates back to 7000 BC. The same method was used for 9000 years. It has only been the past 30 years that wine making has taken on a technically advanced system that has dramatically changed the way that wine is made. There is something magical about opening a seasoned bottle of wine and picturing the work that has gone into the production. Big oak barrels once nurtured the blend of grapes and natural-occurring yeast until that critical point when excellence was achieved. Almost like a classic oil painting, the taste becomes sensuous. Hand made labels, that were intricate in design, announced the time and care that went into each batch. It was not merely the smooth taste of perfection that was enjoyed, but rather the art of development that made a superb bottle of wine.

Technology Run Amuck

Technology is said to be cost-effective, more efficient and stream-lined in a fast paced world. New stainless steel vats, air filtration, controlled pressure and regulated temperature, moisture and light are boasted as bringing wine into the 21st century with the same results as years past. The price is also driven down with production line accuracy and machine-based precision. For those that are not wine connoisseurs, this may sound like a great alternative, but the essence of the wine experience has been lost.

One Major Change

Fermenting yeast was a natural occurrence of grapes until 1876 when commercial marketing for yeast became widespread. It was discovered that yeast could be grown in laboratories and controlled according to species. There was no longer a chance that a batch of wine could be spoiled by unregulated fermintation. However, a change in the style and quality of wines were affected. Today, ethanol, water, esters and other alcohols are used as a replacement to the slow, uncalculating growth of yeast on actual grapes.

Grape Varieties and Terrior

Grape varieties have also evolved to become more modern and robust for production. Genetic crossing and hybridization are used to grow crops where grapes were not naturally bred. Terrior is still a a model for wine appellation and regulation in France and around the world. However, as the wine industry continues to expand into current cultures, this term has come to be challenged. Terrior describes the environment contexts, farming practices and a crop’s specific growth habitat in final characteristics of a wine. Without this rating, all wines would be considered carbon-copy.

Have we gone too far in revamping the wine industry? Some European countries, like France, Spain, Greece and Italy, rely upon the classifications based on a dual system of region of origin and product quality. This keeps their terrior in consistent classification for vintage wines. No wonder a vintage wine can sell for thousands of dollars!

In the scope of recognizing a good wine, take into consideration the area in which the grapes have been grown, whether or not the batch is considered vintage, and the age of the production. This is not to say that there are excellent tasting wines on the market today, but for a full-bodied traditional treat, select one that is lacking in evolution and technology.