What Is In Wine? (Perfect answer)

Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grapes. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are major factors in different styles of wine.


What are the main ingredients in wine?

By. At its most fundamental state, wine is comprised entirely of grapes. Leave a vat of grapes in a container over time, and eventually the naturally-occurring yeasts from the skin will turn the fruit’s sugary juices into alcohol. This is the basic premise of winemaking that dates back thousands of years.

What is really in wine?

When you look at the contents of wine it’s mostly water, followed by ethanol alcohol which is what makes you drunk! What’s fascinating is that everything else–the color, the taste, the aroma,– comes from a tiny fraction of “other stuff.” This is where wine starts to get interesting.

What is bad in wine?

Sulfites are used to kill unwanted bacteria and yeasts in the winemaking process. Since 1987, American producers have been required to mention the presence of sulfur if it exceeds 10 parts per million (ppm) in the finished wine.

Can kids drink wine?

There is no acceptable amount of alcohol that is considered safe for children. Children metabolize alcohol faster than adults. This means that even a small amount of alcohol can lead to higher blood-alcohol concentrations. This can lead to low blood sugar, coma, and problems regulating body temperature.

Does wine have alcohol?

Whether you drink beer, wine or spirits, they all contain the same type of alcohol called ethanol. This is created when either fruits or grains are fermented to produce alcohol drinks. Liqueurs, which are also spirits-based, generally contain less alcohol and their ABV may be below 20%.

Do they add ingredients to wine?

Since only a small portion of the wine actually comes in contact with the barrel, many winemakers have taken to adding oak chips, powders or staves to a wine to evenly distribute those subtle flavors (i.e., leather, roasted marshmallow, cinnamon, cloves, etc.) before being strained out after fermentation.

Are there toxic chemicals in wine?

Dry red wine may be a source of ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol and T-2 and HT-2 toxins in human diet. The content of ochratoxin A found in wine significantly exceeded established norms. Wines from organic farming had higher ochratoxin A levels.

What type of alcohol is in wine?

Ethanol (or ethyl alcohol) is the type of alcohol that over two billion people drink every day. This type of alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. For centuries, people have consumed ethanol-based drinks, such as beer and wine, to change the way that they feel.

Does wine cause belly fat?

Truth be told, from what we can tell, wine doesn’t have any more impact on the waistline than any other alcoholic drink. In fact, red wine might actually be recommended for beating back the belly fat.

Can sulfites harm you?

Sulfites can trigger severe asthmatic symptoms in sufferers of sulfite-sensitive asthma. Without that enzyme, sulfites can be fatal. Because of the danger, labeling is required when sulfites are present in foods at levels at or above 10 parts per million (ppm) or whenever they’re used as a preservative.

Is wine bad for your kidneys?

Drinking alcohol can affect many parts of your body, including your kidneys. A little alcohol—one or two drinks now and then—usually has no serious effects. But drinking too much can harm your health. It can also worsen kidney disease.

Can you drink under 18 with parents?

In general, a family member is a parent, guardian, or spouse. Many states require that the alcohol be provided by the family member directly in order for minors to legally consume it while others require that the family member be present while it is consumed.

Is it bad to drink at 13?

Teen drinkers are more likely to get fat or have health problems, too. One study by the University of Washington found that people who regularly had five or more drinks in a row starting at age 13 were much more likely to be overweight or have high blood pressure by age 24 than their nondrinking peers.

Is there wine without alcohol?

How is non-alcoholic wine made? True non-alcoholic wine is made via the dealcoholization process, meaning that grapes are fermented, vinified, and created into a fully alcoholic product, then the alcohol is removed via a handful of potential ways (vacuum distillation and reverse osmosis being the most popular).

10 Ingredients You Probably Didn’t Know Were in Your Wine

You’ve probably heard the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” before. When it comes to wine, the same idea applies, with a slight twist – don’t judge a bottle by its label — but with a slight twist. With all due respect to the visually appealing design and smart packaging, wine labels may be deceptive. In contrast to the food business, wine manufacturers are not required by any regulating organization or government to declare the exact components that go into making the wine on the exterior of the bottle, even though they include vital information such as grape varietals, location, and alcohol concentration.

In essence, sure, but hold on to your barstool, my sadly betrayed buddy.

Vino is made only from grapes, which contain all of the ingredients necessary to make it.

In the end, you have a delightful libation that has been sipped and swirled by oenophiles and armchair fans alike for hundreds of years.

To begin, vintners have devised novel methods of manipulating the terroir and have elevated the practice to the level of both an art and a science in order to regulate the way each small fruit grows on the vines.

Besides the obvious elements like as grapes, patience, and passion, these are the top five ingredients you might not have realized were whirling about in your wine glass.

1. Potassium SorbatePotassium Metabisulfite

Potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfite are both used as a preservative in the winemaking process to keep germs at bay and yeast from ruining the wine. In the winemaking process, these ingredients are especially beneficial when used together because they provide the yeast with a better opportunity to ferment efficiently, help prevent bacteria from spoiling your wine, and improve the overall flavor of your wine while inhibiting enzymatic browning in white wines.

2. Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is a frequent ingredient in the winemaking process since it helps to lower the acidity of the finished wine. Typically, a winemaker would add this ingredient before or at the start of fermentation because it is less likely to have an impact on the bouquet of your wine. When grapes are having difficulty ripening as a result of the climate in which they were produced, it is not uncommon for calcium carbonate to be added to the mixture.

3. Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is commonly referred to as “Sulfites” in the wine industry since it is one of the most commonly used wine additives. The antioxidant and antibacterial properties of sulfur dioxide make it a prominent ingredient in winemaking, where it is used to preserve grapes, stabilize wine, and prevent oxidation throughout the fermentation process.

Besides that, it is frequently used to aid in the sanitization of barrels and other winemaking equipment.


This one may seem obvious considering that grapes naturally contain sugar, but winemakers frequently add even more sugar to the mix in order to increase the amount of alcohol present in their product’s overall alcohol content. It is known as chaptalization, and it is the practice of adding sugar to wine that is primarily used to aid the yeast in the fermentation process. Sugar is only used by a small number of winemakers to sweeten their wines. Adding sugar to wine is commonly done in colder areas where grapes aren’t able to fully mature before harvesting is completed.

5. Grape Juice Concentrate

This one may seem obvious considering that grapes naturally contain sugar, but winemakers frequently add even more sugar to the mix in order to increase the amount of alcohol in their product. Adding sugar to wine is known as chaptalization and is mostly done for the purpose of assisting a yeast culture in the fermentation process. The addition of sugar to wine is uncommon among winemakers. When grapes are not allowed to fully mature before harvest in colder climes, sugar is typically added to the wine.

6. Water

According to the evidence, it is true that certain wines have been “watered down,” but this may not be for the reasons you might expect. Adding water to a wine is never done as a ruse to fill a bottle; rather, it is done early in the winemaking process to bring down excessive alcohol levels and even out the balance of a wine.

7. Flavors

In winemaking, wood has been employed almost since the beginning of time to impart powerful vanilla aromas (such as those found in American oak barrels) or to offset undertones of delicate spices (like those found in French oak barrels). The addition of oak chips, powders, or staves to a wine to evenly distribute those subtle flavors (such as leather, roasted marshmallows, cinnamon, cloves, and so on) before being strained out after fermentation has become popular among winemakers due to the limited amount of wine that comes into direct contact with the barrel.

8. Powdered Tannins

Tannins are compounds present in the skins of grapes that can enhance the complexity of a wine. Between the crushing, macerations, maturation, climatic fluctuations, and other events that take place during the winemaking process, it may be difficult to keep track of the catch. In the past, powdered tannins (also known as oenological tannins) have been used to assist impart bitterness to wines or balance them out during the early stages of the vinification process in order to help improve grapes, particularly those cultivated in warmer climates across the world.

9. Yeast

Yeast is the primary element in the production of wine, and it is what distinguishes a glass of wine from a drink of juice. When the grapes are denied access to oxygen early in the process, it is the yeast that is responsible for the conversion of sugars into alcohol.

10. Non-Vegan Materials

Despite the fact that these fining agents and clarifiers are not employed in all wines, they are most commonly found in organic wine sectors and by artisan winemakers who are averse to the use of enzymes. Fish bladders, egg whites, bentonite clay, mammalian proteins, and plastics are just a few of the materials that may be used. Fortunately, all of these impurities are removed before the bottling process begins.

Though it may seem difficult at first — and maybe a little “spins” provoking in and of itself — getting your mind around the label that’s wrapped around the bottle can go a long way toward helping you understand which components and tastes you appreciate the most in your wine. Cheers!

What’s Really Inside A Glass of Wine?

What exactly is included within a glass of wine? What exactly is in it? Is it simply grapes, or are there other components added to give it the flavor we’re used to?

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Short Answer:

Unlike beer, wine is manufactured from grapes, and the varied fruit tastes we enjoy are derived directly from the wine-making process (they are not mixed in! ). This topic draws attention to the fact that wines are frequently described as having certain recognizable tastes, such as black currant, cherry, or vanilla, among other things. Discover what’s really in a glass of wine, from the chemical ingredients that give it its distinct flavor to the quantities of common additives that are used to stabilize and preserve the wine, in this article.

What’s inside a glass of wine?

What about the number of calories? Yes. A glass of wine has calories in it. Find out how much money you have. Consider the composition of wine: it is primarily water, followed by ethanol alcohol, which is what causes you to become intoxicated! That everything else – the color, the taste, the perfume – originates from a small portion of the “other stuff” is what makes it so intriguing to study. This is the point at which wine becomes more intriguing. Purchase the book and receive the course! With the purchase of Wine Folly: Magnum Edition, you will receive a FREE copy of the Wine 101 Course (a $50 value).

“Other Stuff” in Wine

Was there a calorie count involved? Yes. Calories are contained within the contents of wine. See what the cost is. Consider the composition of wine: it is primarily water, followed by ethanol alcohol, which is responsible for the intoxicating effect. That everything else – the color, the taste, the perfume – originates from a small percentage of the “other stuff” is what makes it so intriguing to see. Interestingly, it is at this point that wine becomes more intriguing. You can get the course if you buy the book!

Obtaining Additional Information


Wine has a pH value that is on the acidic side of the scale. This is due to the fact that wine grapes contain acid, and that these acids pass into the finished wine. When it comes to acidity in wines, it can range from extremely sour at approximately 2.5 pH (high acidity) to relatively flat at roughly 4.5 pH (low acidity) (low acidity). You’ll note that white wines have a greater acidity than red wines, which is a good thing.

Amino Acids

The amino acids proline and arginine, which make up the majority of the amino acids present in wine, are detected in trace amounts. While these two amino acids have been linked to a variety of health advantages, their content in wine is far too low to have any significant impact.


The scents in wine are enhanced by the presence of esters. Their formation results from the reaction of acids with alcohol, and their composition changes slowly as the wine develops over time. Esters are especially notable in white wines, where they provide tastes such as green apple and flower-like notes, and red wines, where they contribute flavors such as strawberry and raspberry notes. Esters are produced as a result of the fermentation of the wine by the yeast employed and the temperature at which the fermentation takes place.

For example, the “banana” scent that may be detected in some red and white wines is generated by an ester known as isoamyl acetate, which is formed when fermentation temperatures are elevated.


In addition to iron and magnesium, potassium and calcium are also present in wine. Zinc is also present as is phosphorus and manganese. Despite the fact that these minerals are present in wine, they do not add to the flavor of minerality in the beverage. A glass of wine, on the other hand, will provide you with around 4% of your daily iron, magnesium, and potassium requirements. White wines, on average, have less minerals than red wines, according to the Wine Institute.


Wine contains a vast number of chemical components known as phenols, which are responsible for a broad variety of scents and flavors (including tannin! ). Phenols may be found in a variety of places, including the wine grapes themselves and the process of aging wine, among others. As an example, a chemical known as Phenylethanol is responsible for one of the major components responsible for the “violet” scent seen in great red wines. One further component, the scent of “clove” or “cola,” which is commonly described in oak-aged Pinot Noir and is produced by maturing the wine in oak barrels, is produced by aging the wine in barrels.


When not all of the sugars in the grape are fermented into alcohol, the wine is left with a sweetness known as residual sugar, or “RS” for short, which is present in small amounts. Depending on how sweet the wine is, it can range from a handful of calories per glass to a wine that has the consistency of maple syrup due to residual sugars.

Volatile Acidity

While conventional acidity and pH in wine are important factors to consider, there is another category of volatile acids that can contribute to harsh, rancid-smelling odors and tastes in wine. acetic acid (the acid that causes wine to convert to vinegar) is the most prominent member of this group of acids, which also includes hexanoic acid (sweaty/cheesy) and propionic acid (cheesy smell in Champagne orwhite Burgundy).


Acetaldehyde is a volatile organic molecule that has been characterized as having a yellow apple-like fragrance in some cases. Acetaldehyde is typically produced during the winemaking process as a result of oxidation. Most wines have just minimal levels of Acetaldehyde (30–80 mg/L), with the exception of Sherry, which has around 300 mg/L due to the fact that it is produced using an oxygen-friendly winemaking procedure.


When it comes to sweet wines, glycerol is a sugar alcohol that may be found in light concentrations (approximately 4–10 g/L) in dry wines and significant amounts (more than 20 g/L) in sweet wines created with noble rot. In spite of the fact that glycerol is not technically a sugar, it contributes to the sweet fruity character of many wines.

Higher Alcohols

These alcohols are present in trace levels in wine and are claimed to contribute to a variety of scents, ranging from grassy green fragrances to meaty sulfur-based alcohols and everything in between. Many of these are too tiny to perceive and just contribute to the definition of a wine’s major smells by acting as a contributor.


Sulfites are a preservative that is used in the production of wine. They do not impart any tastes to wine and are legally supposed to be less than 350 parts per million in concentration.

As a general rule, white wines have more sulfites than red wines, and sweet wines include more sulfites than dry wines. However, there are exceptions to this norm. More information may be found in “The Bottom Line on Sulfites in Wine.”

What about wine additives?

It’s possible that you’ve heard stories concerning wine additives. So, what are they in particular? Here’s an article discussing the most frequent wine additives and whether or not they’re healthy or harmful for you, depending on your perspective.

Wine Additives Explained

Wine is made solely of grapes when it is at its most basic level of production. If you leave a vat of grapes in a container for an extended period of time, the naturally occurring yeasts from the skin will ultimately convert the sugary juices of the fruit to alcohol. This is the underlying idea of winemaking that extends back thousands of years. Nowadays, however, few winemakers rely on such a straightforward procedure – despite the fact that the market for ‘natural’ wines is rising. While popular wines are still mostly composed of grapes, modern winemakers may include a variety of different ingredients in a variety of ways in order to improve tastes, generate distinct scents, and add texture to the finished product.

Calcium carbonate

If the grapes are not ripening properly, calcium carbonate can be used to lower acidity in the final wine. It can also be used to help the wine age better. It is normally applied prior to or at the beginning of fermentation, so that it has no effect on the aroma of the wine produced.


For centuries, winemakers have relied on oak barrels to impart flavors to their wines, such as vanilla and subtle spices. However, because only a portion of the wine comes into contact with the wood, some producers will add oak chips, powders, or staves to a barrel to help distribute the flavors more evenly throughout the finished product.

Grape juice concentrate

Grape juice concentrate, which may be seen more commonly in retail wines, is occasionally used to enhance the color of red wine while also adding a little amount of sugar to smooth out the palate. It is often made with grapes called Teinturer.

Non-vegan material

Non-vegan material can be used as a fining agent and clarifier by artisan winemakers who are averse to the use of enzymes in their wines. Among these are egg whites, bentonite clay, and mammalian proteins – all of which are filtered away before the wine is bottled and sold.

Powdered tannins

Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in the skins of grapes, and they are beneficial in increasing the complexity of a wine. However, the crushing, maturation, and climatic change that occur during the winemaking process can make them difficult to handle, thus powdered tannins may be added early in the process to aid in the addition of balance.

Potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfite

In order to preserve the yeast from germs and prevent it from rotting, these two components are frequently employed combined throughout the fermentation process since they assist the yeast ferment effectively while also increasing overall flavor.

Sulfur dioxide

This is one of the most often used wine additions, and it is commonly referred to as’sulfites’.

During the winemaking process, it is used to preserve the grapes and prevent oxidation from occurring. It’s also one of the few additives that must be included on the label of a wine bottle, but only if the amount of sulphur dioxide in the wine reaches 10mg per litre.


Although you would imagine that sugar is added to a wine to help sweeten it, sugar is really used to assist increase the amount of alcohol in the wine. Chapteralization is the term used to describe the act of assisting the yeast throughout the fermentation process.


Rather than being added by cunning winemakers wanting to stretch their wine longer, water is actually added at the beginning of the winemaking process to assist reduce excessive alcohol levels and bring the wine into harmony with the other ingredients.


Yeast is an essential component of winemaking because it aids in the conversion of sugars to alcohol. A second fermentation known as malolactic fermentation, in which naturally occurring bitter malic acids are transformed into softer lactic acids, is used by certain producers to improve specific flavor profiles. Some producers also utilize cultivated yeasts to enhance specific flavor profiles.

What exactly is “natural” wine?

After moving to Paris in the 1990s to study French literature and movies, Jenny Lefcourt and her friends discovered a new variety of wine that they enjoyed drinking a lot more than the others. She recalls that this wine tasted “completely different, and alive, and exquisite,” as she put it. Later, they stumbled onto a taste of the wine offered at one of the neighboring restaurants, which was a pleasant surprise. Although “natural wine” was not yet a recognized term, it was the stuff that we now refer to as such, and she began importing it in 2000.

The industry has evolved into a source of independent social capital, with wine labels that are as closely studied and obsessively collected as music covers were in the ’80s.

Also controversial in the wine world, natural wine purists argue for its virtues and exhilarating taste, while traditionalists criticize perceived flaws in the process, and even its idealistic nature.But while natural wine has recently become fashionable, it is not a new concept: people have been fermenting grape juice without additives for thousands of years.

The definition of natural wine, how we got away from it — and then back to it — and where it’s going next are all explained here, along with some background information.

What it is

Nature-based wines are more of a notion than they are a clearly defined category with widely accepted features. A wine created only from unadulterated fermented grape juice and nothing else is what it is in its purest form. Many individuals — winemakers, distributors, journalists, and sommeliers — are uncomfortable with the phrase “natural wine,” which refers to wine produced without the use of chemicals. Some people prefer the terms “low-intervention” wine, “naked” wine, or “raw” wine instead of “low-intervention.” “It’s simply fucking fermenting juice,” Scruggs describes her product as.

  • The following essay is written with the assumption that natural wine is not a fake and that its advocates are not crazy, but rather that it is a hotly discussed and endlessly difficult issue that never fails to elicit passionate responses from a wide range of people.
  • Grasp natural wine necessitates a fundamental understanding of the winemaking process, which is often difficult.
  • Natural wine, on the other hand, is produced from grapes that have not been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
  • When it comes to turning those handpicked grapes into juice, natural winemakers rely on native yeast, which is the stuff that’s whizzing around in the air and will land on grapes if you leave them in a vat for a long enough period of time, to kickstart natural fermentation.
  • And, in contrast to the majority of traditional winemakers, they do not utilize any chemicals (such as false oak taste, sugar, acid, egg white, or other additions) throughout the winemaking procedure.
  • Some natural winemakers may use a small amount of sulfites on occasion.
  • Natural winemakers either do not use sulfites at all or use them in very small amounts, whereas conventional winemakers use up to ten times as much as natural winemakers.
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The purest of the pure — organically fermented grape juice that contains no sulfites — is referred to as “zero-zero,” which refers to the absence of any additional ingredients.

It is typically regarded permissible in natural wine circles to add small amounts of sulfites at the bottling stage (between 10 and 35 parts per million), which are generally thought to be between 10 and 35 parts per million.

In the United States, the maximum allowed concentration is 350 parts per million.

However, this is not always the case.

In Scruggs’ opinion, “there’s a common misperception that natural wine is one thing – that it has a “funky” or “unclean” taste.” In my opinion, this is an injustice.

According to Pascaline Lepeltier, a long-time natural wine advocate, “Whatever you prefer as a more conventional wine consumer, you can find an alternative wherever in the globe.” Lastly, there’s glou-glou, a popular form of natural wine that’s meant to be consumed without having to worry about what you’re drinking.

What it isn’t

Winemaking that is considered “conventional” — often known as “non-natural” winemaking — is defined by the use of technology. When it comes to the vineyard, pesticides and herbicides are used to get the desired results. Laboratory-grown yeast (to control fermentation and taste), acid (to boost the wine’s acidity, which in turn might help the wine age more gracefully), and sulfites (added at the time of bottling) are the most common forms of intervention in the cellar (to preserve flavor). Many winemakers also use sugar, which does not make the wine sweeter, but rather gives the impression of having “body” since it turns into alcohol when exposed to heat.

According to Lefcourt, owner of JennyFrancois Selections, “a lot of wine is a grape product, plus all of these millions of additives to make a product that is reliably the same every year.” “It’s similar to Coca-Cola.” Clarifying wine with egg white and isinglass, which is manufactured from fish bladders, is a common practice that results in many bottles being non-vegan despite the fact that they are not labeled as such.

Marcel Lapierre is a French winemaker who specializes in “natural” Beaujolais wines.

Technological advancements are the most significant element in this transformation: Pesticides began widely used following World War II, when troops sprayed their sleeping bags with DDT to prevent the spread of sickness; commercial yeast first appeared on the market in the mid-’60s, and now it is used in a variety of applications.

  • We owe a debt of gratitude to American wine critic Robert Parker, who in the 1980s devised a 100-point wine rating system.
  • As Parker’s reputation grew, his ratings began to have a substantial impact on wine sales.
  • The homogeneity of what people considered to be good wine began to take place when this began to happen, according to Lefcourt.
  • This goes to the heart of a long-running discussion between natural wine devotees and others who believe they have gone off the rails: Is the “best” wine produced with the least amount of intervention?

Or is it produced by seasoned, well-informed winemakers who are striving to create a specific outcome that is representative of their region and traditions? This discussion is unlikely to come to a halt anytime soon.

Where it came from, and where it’s going

Technological involvement defines “conventional” winemaking, which is slang for “non-natural” wine. Pesticides and herbicides are used in the vineyard to control pests and weed growth. Generally, intervention occurs in the cellar in the form of lab-grown yeast (to control the fermentation process and manage taste), acid (to boost the wine’s acidity, which in turn might help the wine age more gracefully), and sulfites (which are added at the time of bottling) (to preserve flavor). Many winemakers also use sugar, which does not make the wine sweeter, but rather gives the impression of “body” since it turns into alcohol when exposed to heat.

  1. There are also more than 60 permitted additives that American winemakers may employ to modify their wines without having to include them on the label.
  2. Clarifying wine with egg white and isinglass, which is manufactured from fish bladders, is common practice.
  3. Winemaker Marcel Lapierre from Beaujolais, France, is known for his “natural” Beaujolais.
  4. In this transformation, technological advancements have had the greatest impact.
  5. A minor but important role has also been performed by the critics of fine wines.
  6. Parker positioned himself as the first wine reviewer who was not affected by business interests, and as a consumer advocate who was objective in his assessments.
  7. As a result, winemakers began to manipulate their products to better suit Parker’s preferences.
  8. A major argument exists between natural wine enthusiasts and others who believe they have gone off the rails on whether the “best” wine is produced with the least amount of manipulation.

It might also be produced by seasoned, well-informed winemakers who are attempting to create a specific outcome that is representative of their region and traditions. In all likelihood, this discussion will continue indefinitely.

One last thing: What about hangovers?

Natural wine is frequently touted as having less side effects, such as hangovers. A lot of individuals (including Goop) believe that the sulfites in normal wine might increase the effects of alcohol the following morning. A lot of individuals believe it to be complete nonsense. “I don’t believe drinking water causes hangovers,” Scruggs adds. “I don’t believe it has anything to do with sulfur because it is already a naturally occurring byproduct.” It is true that there are manufacturers who are pushing an excessive quantity of it — but most of the time, this is bulk wine, and the additives aren’t required to be mentioned.” So drink responsibly, and don’t make a fool of yourself.

We’ll deliver you the most interesting Goods articles twice a week, investigating what we purchase, why we buy it, and why it matters to us.

Wine Chemistry 101: What is Wine Made of?

Vivino is one of our favorite apps since we enjoy drinking wine. But do we really understand what goes into making the wine we adore? Despite the fact that wine is considered food, there is no ingredient list on the label. A certain amount of grape juice is required, but that is not the entire story; wine is composed of hundreds or thousands of distinct molecules. Most are fragrance molecules derived from grapes themselves (primary smells), winemaking (secondary aromas), and wine aging (tertiary scents) (tertiary).

So, what exactly is the composition of wine?

85% Water

Aside from the pleasure of indulging in alcoholic beverages, there is another explanation for the historical habit of drinking wine: wine is primarily composed of water. In the past, wine was considered to be more safe than water because it was less susceptible to hazardous bacterial infection. This was especially true in hot climates where water was scarcer and hence more susceptible to contamination. It is possible that this is why the history of wine began in warm and dry regions surrounding Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean Sea, rather than in hot and humid places.

13(ish)% Alcohols

Although it is not a mystery that wine includes alcohol, it is formed when yeasts devour the sugar found in grape juice, converting it to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The amount of alcohol in a glass of wine (also known as alcohol by volume or ABV) varies from bottle to bottle. Wines at the lower end of the spectrum contain around 7 percent alcohol. These are often sweet wines whose fermentation was halted prematurely, leaving unfermented sugar behind. Examples include sparkling wines such as Moscato and still wines such as some German Rieslings.

Wines with high alcohol content (14 percent to 15 percent) are typically produced in warm climates where grapes attain a high level of ripeness and high sugar concentrations before being pressed. Fortified wines are the only ones that contain alcohol levels of between 17 and 20 percent or higher.

1% Glycerol

Chemically, glycerol is an alcohol, which is why the ‘ol’ at the end of the word indicates that it is an alcohol. It has no impact on our neurological system, and our bodies handle it as if it were a sugar instead of a supplement. Glycerol is a byproduct of fermentation that is produced by yeasts during the process of converting sugar into alcohol. Glycerol has an oily texture and is responsible for the viscosity of wine. When we spin a glass of wine, it adds to the formation of the legs (or tears) that we observe on the glass.

A fun fact: Glycerol has a sweet flavor, which helps to explain why certain wines seem a little sweet despite the fact that they contain very little sugar in them.

0.5% Acids

Generally speaking, the acidity of wine is measured in pH, which ranges between 3 and 4; it is frequently more acidic than orange juice, but less acidic than most sodas. Tartaric acid is the primary acid found in wine and is found in large quantities. Most bacteria are unable to metabolize tartaric acid since it is produced by just a few plants: the grapevine is one of such plants. This is why wine has such a high level of resistance to deterioration. Unlike the acids found in many fruits, the quantity of tartaric acid does not drop significantly as grapes develop, explaining why all wines, even those made from the ripest fruit, are rather acidic.

In part, this explains why wines made from riper grapes are less acidic than wines made from ‘greener’ berries.

Malic acid is a sour acid that is not particularly stable, which is why some winemakers prefer to allow it to be transformed into a gentler acid called lactic acid before bottling.

You may learn more about this critical wine component by reading Why is Acid so Important in Wine.

Carbohydrates (sugars)

Obviously, the amount of sugar included in a wine can vary significantly depending on how’sweet’ the wine is made. Very dry wines have almost no sugar at all, whilst other sweet wines might contain more than 200 grams of sugar per liter. However, the majority of wines, including dry ones, contain between 0 and 10 grams of carbohydrates per liter (g/L) of liquid. The natural fruit sugars fructose and glucose, which are normally present in similar amounts in wine, account for the majority of the sugars present.

These substances, as the name implies, are incapable of being fermented by yeasts or bacteria. As a result, they remain in the wine as “residual sugars” and contribute to the sweetness of the wine.

0.1% Phenolics

Despite the fact that they constitute a tiny fraction of the total, phenolics contribute significantly to what distinguishes wine from other beverages. Flavonoids and anthocyanins, two types of phenolic compounds, are responsible for the unique hues of white and red wines. Phenolics are the tannins that give wine its drying astringency and some bitterness, and they are also found in grapes. Tannins are found in considerably larger concentration in red wines, while they can be found in minor amounts in white wines as well.

That’s all there is to it!

a little about the authorJulien is the founder ofSocial Vignerons, which was awarded the Wine Blog Awards’ Best New Wine Blog Award for 2015.

If Only the Grapes Were the Whole Story (Published 2013)

As a result, wine has been dubbed “the ideal beverage” since the grapes contain all of the components required to complete the change into a drink. Put grapes in a vat and, over time, the yeasts that coat the skins begin to work their alchemy, converting the sugar in the juice to alcohol and turning it into wine. It was just this type of uninvited fermentation that prompted humanity thousands of years ago to spend the following few millennia refining their wine-making techniques and processes.

  • However, it’s no secret that many wines (in fact, the vast majority) include much more than just grapes, yeast, and sulfur.
  • Forget about the often-toxic pesticides used in vineyards, which may leave a residue on the grapes if not handled properly.
  • It doesn’t end there, either.
  • Winemakers can choose certain yeasts and special nutrients to ensure that those yeasts continue to function properly.
  • They can use sugar to extend the fermentation process, so increasing the alcohol content; acid can be added if it is deficient; and water can be added if the alcohol amount is excessive.
  • While wine has a natural, pastoral connotation, it can also be thought of as a manufactured product.
  • Even as we have grown more health-conscious about our food choices, we pay little attention to the extra substances that are added to wine.

Today, however, many Americans consider the nutritional, environmental, humanitarian, aesthetic, and even political consequences of the food they prepare and consume.

It is not an easy undertaking.

This leads to the assumption that any wine is elemental, similar to fruits, vegetables, and meats, and hence cannot be broken down into basic elements to be consumed separately.

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The unusual title of master of wine is held by Isabelle Legeron, an educator and consultant who bears the title of master of wine.

“They haven’t connected with wine in the same manner that we have,” says the author.

Legeron has been organizing RAW, a wine show in London for the past two years, which brings together producers of artisanal and natural wines with others in the sector and the general public.

“Through RAW, we are attempting to create awareness about the need of openness,” she explained.

The first issue that comes to me is: Why are winemakers so adamant about not documenting the ingredients that go into their wines?

Bonny Doon Vineyard, Shinn Estate Vineyards, and Ridge Vineyards are remarkable exceptions that need to be recognized.

Artisanal winemakers, for example, who are opposed to the use of enzymes in their wines, may nonetheless attempt to clear their wines using egg whites or isinglass, which is generated from fish bladders.

It is true that some people make intentional decisions not to purchase things after learning about the processes involved in their manufacture.

Despite the fact that I adore peanut butter, I won’t purchase it if it contains anything other than peanuts and salt.

Aside from those who are concerned about unidentified ingredients, the vast majority of other consumers continue to purchase processed foods despite these concerns.

With regard to wine, there is little question that the same will be true.

If we desire goods that are minimally processed and real manifestations of what they profess to be (such as cheese rather than processed cheese), we must be able to discern between wines that have been slightly modified and wines that have been subjected to industrial processes.

Just as with food makers, they will have to be brought into some type of honest depiction of their product.

To begin, it is helpful to think of wine as a type of food. Food safety and environmental concerns regarding where food comes from, how it’s grown, processed, or reared should be extended to wine. Without us, who will be in charge of setting standards for quality and authenticity in the future?

What’s in Your Wine?

Other than the presence of sulfites, winemakers are not required to disclose all that goes into their product. However, your bottle is frequently packaged and treated with a large variety of non-toxic preservatives, fining agents, and even flavorings that are safe to consume. Now that organic farming and biodynamic winemaking are taking root in the industry – and that a few producers are beginning to label every ingredient – it is time to take a closer look at just what may be in your wine.

Sulfur dioxide/Sulfites

It helps to protect and maintain the integrity of the wine. Sulfur may be used to stop fermentation if necessary, and it also destroys the harmful organisms and bacteria that might detract from the flavor and fragrance of a wine.

Potassium Sorbate

Potassium sorbate (which is also found in cheese and yogurt) has the same antibacterial properties as sulfur. It is frequently used in sweet wines to inhibit additional fermentation after the wine has been bottled.

Tannin powder

It is frequently used to improve the structure and astringency of varietals that are naturally low in tannin, as well as grapes that are low in tannin owing to poor harvest circumstances. The powder is frequently a mixture of grape seeds and skins, oak, chestnuts, and nutgall, which are little nut-like swellings on the bark of tree branches that are used in traditional medicine.


Used to replace water that has been lost due to dehydration or to reduce blood sugar and alcohol levels in states where wine regulations permit it.


Certain enzymes aid in the removal of chemicals from the skin as well as the removal of any impure, tiny crud that may have remained after fermentation.


Adding sugar to still wines to raise the alcohol content is a common practice when winemakers are faced with underripe grapes. Additionally, sugar might be added before bottling in order to increase mouthfeel and reduce astringency. Despite the fact that many areas permit the procedure (known as chaptalization), in California, sugar cannot be added to any still wine. The only time it is permitted in California is during the dosage phase of sparkling wine production, which is the stage shortly before the wine is corked.

Mega Purple

Mega Purple is a brand of wine-grape juice concentrate that increases both the color and the sugar content of the juice without actually adding pure sugar (hello, California). It’s a frequent ingredient in commercial fruit juice products. There are grape concentrations that are comparable for both white and rosé wines.

Oak chips, staves or powders

These iterations are far less expensive than barrels, and they allow for greater surface contact with the wine, which can aid in maintaining consistency. Winemakers can select certain taste characteristics, such as vanilla and coconut, as well as American or French oak. Other options include leather, smoke, and spice.


Acidity is a significant component of wine, as it influences the presence of bacteria, particle stability, color, and aging potential of the wine. Tartaric acid is found in abundance in wine grapes and is the most often used additive. Tartaric acid is not the only acid that occurs naturally; malic and lactic acids are also present and are frequently combined with tartaric acid to produce low-acid wines.

Grapes also contain trace levels of citric acid, which may be added to white wines before bottling to give them a “lift” and brighten their appearance.


Yeast is a one-celled creature that feeds on sugar and produces alcohol, which is essential in the conversion of grape juice to wine. Yeast has an affect on the scent, texture, and flavor as well.

The Four Main Fining Agents

Suspended particles are a natural byproduct of the fermentation of grapes and the aging of wine. Cloudiness and silt are caused by these particles. Winemakers clear the wine by adding agents that cling to the floaters and absorb them, a process known as clarification. While several of these substances may cause concern, it is important to remember that these chemical sponges are filtered out prior to bottling. Bladders of Fish Isinglass is a pure form of protein that may be used to remove harsh tannins from water while also forming a bond with haze-inducing particles.

  • When it comes to clarifying red wines, egg whites and gelatin are very beneficial.
  • Bentonite Clay is a kind of clay.
  • Bentonite, which is mined in Wyoming, has the greatest sponge power of any of the clays.
  • Plastic PVPP, also known as PolyVinylPolyPryrolidone, is a workhorse of a material.

Other additives

Nutrients found in yeast When yeasts become sluggish and winemakers do not want to feed them sugar to speed up fermentation, they supplement the yeasts with additional nutrients. These additions are essentially yeast-specific vitamin supplements. Acid reducers are substances that help to lower acidity. When a batch includes an excessive amount of acid, minerals such as calcium carbonate can be used to neutralize the acid. Consider them to be the equivalent of Tums for wine. Originally posted on February 19, 2014.

How Red Wine Is Made

Wineries now produce red wine in roughly the same way as they did 6,000 years ago in Greece and Persia, according to historians. During the winemaking process, dark-colored grapes are collected and crushed before being fermented, stirred, and separated from their skins by a press. Voila! Red wine. Better containers, presses, and cellars have significantly improved the quality and efficiency of red wine production, but the process is still substantially the same as it was decades ago. Apart from grapes, yeast, and, in most cases, sulfur dioxide as a preservative, no other ingredients or heating are required in the manufacture of red wine.

Red wine is made on the skins

Red wine is manufactured in the same way as white wine, with one significant distinction. In most cases, the skins and juice of the grapes are blended in a tank or vat throughout the fermentation process. In order to separate the juice from the skins of white wines, they are pressed before to fermentation. Color, taste, and textural elements are incorporated into the juice during the red wine manufacturing process, whereas the yeast converts sugar to alcohol during the process of making white wine.

The skins contain the majority of the good stuff that gives red wine its color, whereas the pulp is responsible for the majority of its juice. Eric DeFreitas created this infographic.

Harvesting red-wine grapes and the crush

When red wine grapes are ready to be harvested, it is usually in the late summer to early fall, many weeks after the original green hue of the grapes has changed to dark crimson or blue-black, a process known as veraison. Vineyard employees remove the grape bunches or clusters off the vines with a harvesting knife. A self-propelled machine shakes or slaps the grapes off their stems, collecting the individual berries and juice, or a hand-operated machine does it for you. When the grapes are delivered to the vineyard, winemakers might pick through them to remove mildewed grapes, undesired raisins, leaves, and other detritus.

Free run is the term used to describe any juice produced during these phases prior to pressing.

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Red wine fermentation and pressing

Must is the term used to describe the mixture of juice, skins, and seeds. A procedure known as cold soaking is used by some winemakers to chill the must for a day or two before fermenting it in order to remove color and taste ingredients from the skins before any alcohol is produced. Afterwards, some winemakers initiate the fermentation process by adding commercial yeast, while others let the native yeast that clings to the grapes or resides in the cellar’s environment to do so. It doesn’t matter which method you use, yeast cells spring to life in the sweet solution and start converting the sugar into alcohol, heat, and carbon dioxide.

  1. This cap must be mixed back into the juice at least once per day, if not more frequently, during the fermentation phase in order to maintain it wet during the fermentation process.
  2. It also helps to regulate heat, which may reach temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit if not properly monitored.
  3. You may either pump liquid over the cap or punch it down.
  4. Transferring the must into wine presses allows winemakers to separate the skins and seeds from the wine, as well as compress the skins to extract what is known as pressed wine from the wine.

The degree to which the must is pressed is a critical factor in the winemaking process. If you work it too hard, it will bring out bitter tannins. If it is too soft, the wine’s color and texture may be lighter and less complex. Getty

Red wines typically mature in oak barrels

Almost all red wines must be aged for a period of time before they can be bottled and sold. In large tanks, the process might take anything from a few months to many years, although oak barrels and vats are favoured for producing high-quality, traditional-style red wines. Malolactic fermentation happens most often during the wine’s aging phase, and it is responsible for converting the wine’s sour malic acid into softer lactic acid. It can occur spontaneously, but the winemaker can actively stimulate it by introducing a malolactic culture to the fermenting wine.

New barrels provide more powerful spicy smells and increased flavors, whereas neutral vessels, such as barrels that have been used previously or containers made of concrete or clay, are regarded mostly for their ability to smooth out the texture of a wine’s mouthfeel and mouthfeel.

American white oak barrels, on the other hand, are preferred for many wines because of their rich vanilla and coconut notes.

As red wine matures, sediments such as yeast cells that have died and small particles of grape skins settle to the bottom of the bottle.

Storage is the technique of removing sediment from wine after it has been clarified by pumping or siphoning it off the sediment.

It makes use of the binding characteristics of egg whites, isinglass, and bentonite clay to make red wines taste less tannic and appear less hazy.

When it comes to making red wine, blending is a vital stage.


Filtration and bottling

When a red wine has reached the point of maturity when it can be bottled, many winemakers choose to filter it first. Extra sediment is removed using coarse filtering. A sterile filtration eliminates practically all of the leftover yeast as well as germs that might potentially ruin the wine later on in the process. Often, the final correction of sulfur dioxide is accomplished right before a wine is packaged for sale. This is the procedure that has evolved the most from the beginning of humanity, when gourds, goatskins, and clay jars were the most advanced packing materials available to mankind.

Today’s winemakers have a plethora of alternatives, techniques, and technology at their disposal compared to their forefathers. However, the goal remains the same: to take sweet grapes and allow yeast to turn them into a tasty red wine that everyone may enjoy.

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