Red wine is a popular drink and is part of hundreds of different cultures worldwide. From purple to ruby, up to garnet and orange, this type of wine has a wide variety of aromas - flowers, fruits, herbs and spices - and by a high tannin concentration. The perfect temperature to taste it is between 14 and 20 °C, and the best pairings with food are undoubtedly red meat, game, cheese and generally all slow cooking dishes and elaborate sauces.
Thanks to its nutritional properties, red wine has climbed the rankings as an ingredient to stay healthy, obviously only if drunk in moderation. In fact, it is a source of antioxidants and its active ingredient, resveratrol (found in the skin of grapes), reduces the risk of cellular aging. Moreover, it is rich in vitamins and minerals.
What are the origins of this delicious drink? Let's find out together.
How is red wine made?
Red wine is produced through a precise chemical and physical process called vinification which consists in pressing the grapes and then in the fermentation of the resulting juice, called must. Fermentation starts thanks to the natural yeasts present in the grape skins which slowly transform the sugar present in the pulp until it becomes ethanol and carbon dioxide.
Unlike white wines, in red vinification the must is left to ferment with all the residues deriving from the pressing, in order to extract the polyphenols and natural colouring substances present i the grape skins, thus giving the wine its colour, as well as more or less intense structures and aromas. The temperature at which red wine ferments is between 22 and 28 °C, and takes about a week for lighter wines, while much longer, usually between 15 and 20 days, for those destined for aging.
Before the final bottling, there is the racking off phase, that is when the marc is separated from the wine. At this point, the red wine is decanted into tanks which can be made of steel, cement or in oak barrels, to continue the aging process, which in the case of red wines depends on the type of organoleptic properties one wishes to achieve. Often, the aging of a red wine can take up to 5 years or even more!
How to describe a red wine
Wine also means conviviality and joy because tasting it is always a pleasure, especially when in good company! But ... are we sure we know how to describe a wine? And what are its characteristics? We often taste a good wine without fully understanding what we are drinking or why there is written “herbaceous”, “robust” or “full-bodied” on its label.
Following our brief journey to discover red wine, let’s learn the language most used to describe it.
Fat: refers to its density and is used to indicate a wine that takes up all the room in your mouth and reminds the texture of fatty meat. It is also said of a wine rich in extractive substances, in particular glycerine.
Robust: when the tannin, a substance that gives body to a wine, is present in the right quantity. It guarantees longevity.
Mature: when the wine has developed its pinnacle point where it cannot improve any further.
Herbaceous: recalls the fresh-tasting notes of cut grass. It is a sensation found, for example, in a young Cabernet or in a Merlot.
Full-bodied: it is said of a wine rich in alcohol and dry extracts, where taste and colour are in harmony with each other.
Ethereal: describing the perfume found in aged red wines. It is part of the bouquet and recalls pungent ethers.
Strong: expresses strength, due to its alcohol content, not to be confused with the body of a wine. It also recalls the smell of a cellar and the aroma of the must.
Alcoholic: robust wine with a high alcohol content, which is perceived in the mouth with a sensation of heat, or an unbalanced wine due to excess of alcohol.
Complex: it is said of a full-bodied wine, rich and dense, with a sophisticated aroma.
Intense: its colour indicates the hue, it’s intense to the nose and has with a lingering taste.
Don't miss the next appointment in our magazine on red wine: we shall be talking again about this heavenly nectar and about the best wines produced in the Lake Garda area and their perfect pairings with food.