Sunday, March 28, 2010

Top 10 Questions about Wine: 1 & 2

Although we were not shocked to find that (the online search engine) receives thousands of queries a day on the subject of wine, we were surprised at the most popular questions asked. Ranging from mundane matters such as calorie counts and wine stains to more obscure topics including gods of wine and Marsala, the wine drinking public is looking for answers. Well, this week we give the people what they want as we tackle the “top questions asked about wine on” (insert booming, echoing voice-over here.) Today, we embark on the top 2 questions which concern calories in wine and making wine.

#1. How many calories are in a glass of wine?

A bit of a loaded question, the answer depends on what type of wine you are drinking and what you consider a ‘glass of wine.’ Let’s just assume that most people, in the privacy of their own home, are pretty heavy handed when it comes to pouring a glass of wine (if you get approximately 3 glasses of wine out of a bottle, this means you.) Restaurant and bar pours can range from the delicate and swirl-ready to the fill-it-to-the-rim tumbler sized pour. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll be referring to a generally large pour, i.e. the glass is more than half full. The answer lies somewhere between 150 and 200 calories per glass. For comparison purposes, a pint of lager is about the same, as is a double shot of gin or vodka. Some approximate examples:

White Wine - 150

Red Wine - 160

Champagne - 180

Lager - 160

Guinness - 170

Pilsner – 180

Gin & Tonic - 180

#2. How do I make wine?

To truly learn how to make wine, you will need to read much more than this blog post. However, for the purposes of explaining the process, let’s start from the point where you have the grapes and are ready to craft yourself some vino. The first step is usually to sort the grapes, discarding any damaged grapes and likely removing the stems. This can either be done by hand (lots of work as you can imagine) or by machines aptly called sorters and destemmers. The grapes are then crushed, or cracked, to release the juice. When making white wine, the grapes are subsequently pressed to squeeze out the juice, leaving the skins and other solids behind before fermentation begins. For red wine, the grapes are crushed – but not pressed – before moving on to the fermentation phase. Grapes for red wine are pressed after fermentation; fermenting the grapes with their skins and other solids adds color and structure to red wines.

Fermentation is usually done in large tanks and the process converts the sugar in the grapes to alcohol. The chemical process of fermentation is set in action either by the natural yeasts found on grape skins or by the addition of yeast cultures to the fermentation vessel. During the fermentation process, the concoction in the container can be punched down, pumped over, stirred, and/or left alone depending on the wine maker’s methods and the type of wine they are trying to make. When fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred to a separate container for ageing. In as little as a few weeks, or as long as a few years depending on the wine, you will have finished wine and you can pour yourself a big ol’ glass (see #1.)

Stay tuned; tomorrow we take on Port Wine and case sizes. Cheers!

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