types of wine

 

 

The facts about commercial and premium wine

Premium wines offer quality.

 


premium wine productionPremium wines are made from a first pressing of the best grapes.  The quality of grape juice is therefore of the highest level with an abundance of natural fruit flavours, colour and aromas.

Because the quantities of juice are lower, production is on a much smaller scale with many processes still carried out in traditional ways without machinery. The focus of the wine maker is on the quality and flavour of the wine, not on the number of bottles filled. 

A minimal amount of sulphur is permitted as an added preservative, but concentrations are tiny.  In the fining process only natural products may be used to clear the wine. The high quality of juice and very low concentration of additives (if any at all) allow a high level of vitamin C.  Along with the tannins (from the grape skins) this vitamin C acts as a natural preservative and also helps to reduce the likelihood of a hangover.  (dependent of course on amount consumed ).

Vitamin C helps to mature the wine, so a one year old wine will be fine to consume, but also a couple of years aging can help the full flavours to develop.

When a bottle is opened a wine with high levels of sulphur will oxidise quickly, but those with lower sulphur and high vitamin C levels have a longe shelf life once opened.  This can be a great benefit if you just enjoy an occasional glass of wine and want to keep an open bottle for a week.  Some wines will keep well for two or more weeks without going off.

Premium wine tends to be bottled on by the winemaker, wine bottles packed in casesoften called "estate bottled".  Sometimes, however, small producers may cooperate together and bottle at a central depot because the cost of the bottling machinery could not be borne by a single small estate or vineyard.

 

 

 

Commercial wine production concentrates on quantity.

 

commercial mass productionThe maximum amount of juice is extracted from the fruit, following the logic that more juice produces more bottles of wine.

Everything is geared to producing vast quantities of wine. The grapes are fermented and matured in massive stainless steel vats to ensure that millions of liters  are made each year.

Similar to the production of olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, where the quality of the first pressing is the best (extra virgin), the first pressing of grapes yields the best juice, and as further juice is extracted the quality falls off.  This is simply because as the fruit continues in the press juice is extracted from the skins, pips and stalks.

 

To compensate for the reduction in juice quality, artificial additives are introduced to improve the flavour, compensate for higher acidity and improve the appearance of the wine.

 

Commercial wine is usually shipped in bulk from the wine in bulkwinemaker to the bottling plant, a journey which can be thousands of miles, eg the sea crossing from Australia to the UK.

Lots of wine actually arrives in the UK in massive containerised plastic tanks. The wine will often require further chemical agents to stabalise and preserve it while in transit.

 

 

 

There seem to be considerable benefits with a premium style wine, but there is one downside.  The best grapes, first pressing and natural products mean lower yields and shipping bottles is more costly than shipping bulk wine, thus premium wines carry a higher price tag.  They don't all cost a fortune, but expect to pay a little more for the quality.