Buy Wine
Buy Wine
Buy Wine
Buy Wine Accessories
Buy Wine Gift Baskets
Learn About Wine
Craft & Cork

Wine History ... Grape Varieties ... Classification ... Appellations ... Red or White Wine ... Rose' Wine

Table Wine ... Sparkling Wine ... Dessert Wine ... Fortified Wine ... Cooking Wine ... Vintages

Wine Tasting ... Blind Tasting ... Vertical and Horizontal Tasting ... Tasting Flights

Serving Temperature ... Glassware ... Order of Tasting ... The Wine Tasting Process

Characteristics Assessed During Tasting ... Connoisseur Wine Tasting ... Expectoration

Visiting Wineries ... Attending Wine Schools ... Collecting... Production ... Exporting Countries

Uses ... Religious Uses ... Health Affects ... Adverse Reactions ... Packaging and Storing

Professions ... Film and Television ...

Wine History

The earliest evidence suggesting wine production comes from archaeological sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 6000 to 5000 BC. The archaeological evidence becomes clearer, and points to domestication of grapevine, in Early Bronze Age sites of the Near East, Sumer and Egypt from around the third millennium BC.

The oldest known evidence suggesting wine production in Europe and second oldest in the world comes from archaeological sites in Greece and is dated to 6,500 years ago. The same archaeological sites in Greece also contain remnants of the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes. In Egypt, wine became a part of recorded history, playing an important role in ancient ceremonial life. Wine was possibly introduced into Egypt by the Ancient Greeks. Traces of wine were also found in China, dating from the second and first millennium BC.

Wine was common in classical Greece and Rome. The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera and made wine in their numerous colonies in Italy, Sicily,southern France, and Spain. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and revelry, and wine was frequently referred to in the works of Homer and Aesop. Many of the major wine producing regions of Western Europe today were established by the Romans. Wine making technology improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire. Many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were known. Barrels were developed for storing and shipping wine.

In medieval Europe, the Christian Church was a staunch supporter of wine which was necessary for the celebration of the Catholic Mass. In places such as Germany, beer was banned and considered pagan and barbaric while wine consumption was viewed as civilized and a sign of conversion.[22] Wine was also forbidden in the Islamic civilization, but after Geber and other Muslim chemists pioneered the distillation of wine, it was used other purposes, including cosmetic and medical uses.


Grape varieties

Wine grapes on a vine
Wine grapes on a vine

Wine is usually made from one or more varieties of the European species, Vitis vinifera. When one of these varieties, such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Merlot, for example, is used as the predominant grape (usually defined by law as a minimum of 75 or 85%) the result is a varietal, as opposed to a blended wine. Blended wines are in no way inferior to varietal wines; some of the world's most valued and expensive wines from the Bordeaux, Rioja or Tuscany regions, are a blend of several grape varieties of the same vintage.

Wine can also be made from other species or from hybrids, created by the genetic crossing of two species. Vitis labrusca, Vitis aestivalis, Vitis rupestris, Vitis rotundifolia and Vitis riparia are native North American grapes, usually grown for eating in fruit form or made into grape juice, jam, or jelly, but sometimes made into wine, eg. Concord wine (Vitis labrusca species).

Hybrids are not to be confused with the practice of grafting. Most of the world's vineyards are planted with European vinifera vines that have been grafted onto North American species rootstock. This is common practice because North American grape species are resistant to phylloxera. Grafting is done in every wine-producing country of the World except for Chile and Argentina, which have yet to be exposed to the insect.

The variety of grape(s), aspect (direction of slope), elevation, and topography of the vineyard, type and chemistry of soil, the climate and seasonal conditions under which grapes are grown, the local yeast cultures altogether form the concept of "terroir." The range of possibilities lead to great variety among wine products, which is extended by the fermentation, finishing, and aging processes. Many small producers use growing and production methods that preserve or accentuate the aroma and taste influences of their unique terroir.

However, flavor differences are not desirable for producers of mass-market table wine or other cheaper wines, where consistency is more important. Producers will try to minimize differences in sources of grapes by using wine making technology such as micro-oxygenation, tannin filtration, cross-flow filtration, thin film evaporation, and spinning cone.


A glass of white wine
A glass of white wine

Regulations govern the classification and sale of wine in various regions of the world. France has an appellation system which ranges from Vin de Table (or "table wine"), through Vin de Pays and Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) to Appellation d'Origine Vin De Qualité Supérieure (AOVDQS)  and which is based on the concept of terroir  (or region of origin) and wine quality. Germany developed a similar system in 2002, though this has not yet developed the authority of the French system. Spain and Italy also have a classification which is based on a dual system of region of origin and quality of product. New World wine, that is wines from outside of the traditional wine growing regions of Europe, tend to be classified by grape rather than by quality or region of origin, though there have been subjective attempts to classify by quality, most successfully by Langton's.

Wines are usually named either by their grape variety or by their place of production. Generally speaking, European wines are named both after the place of production (e.g. Bordeaux, Rioja, Chianti) and the grapes used (e.g. Pinot, Chardonnay, Merlot). Wines from everywhere except Europe are generally named for the grape variety. More and more, however, market recognition of particular regions and wineries is leading to their increased prominence on non-European wine labels. Examples of recognized locales include: Napa Valley, Barossa Valley, Willamette Valley, Cafayate, Marlborough, Walla Walla, etc.

Some blended wine names are marketing terms, and the use of these names is governed by trademark or copyright law, rather than a specific wine law or a patent on the actual varietal blend or process used to achieve it. For example, Meritage (pronounced to rhyme with "heritage") is generally a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and may also include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, while the dôle is made from the Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes. Use of the term Meritage is protected by licensing agreements by The Meritage Association.


The taste of a wine depends not only on the grape species and varietal blend, but can also depend on the ground and climate (known as terroir) where it is cultivated. Historically, wines have been known by names reflecting their origin, and sometimes style: Bordeaux, Rioja, Mosel and Chianti are all legally defined names, reflecting the traditional wines produced in the named region. These naming conventions or "appellations" (as they are known in France) dictate not only where the grapes in a wine were grown, but also which grapes went into the wine and how they were vinified. The appellation system is strongest in the European Union, but a related system, the American Viticultural Area, restricts the use of certain regional labels in America, such as Napa Valley, Santa Barbara and Willamette Valley. The AVA designations do not restrict the type of grape used.

In most of the world, wine labeled Champagne must be made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and fermented using a certain method, based on the international trademark agreements included in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. However, in the United States, a legal definition called semi-generic has enabled U.S. winemakers to use certain generic terms (Champagne, Hock, Sherry, etc.) if there appears next to the term the actual appellation of origin.

More recently wine regions in countries with less stringent location protection laws such as the United States and Australia have joined with well-known European wine producing regions to sign the Napa Declaration to Protect Wine Place and Origin, commonly known as the Napa Declaration on Place. This is a "declaration of joint principles stating the importance of location to wine and the need to protect place names.". The Declaration was signed in July 2005 by four United States winegrowing regions and three European Union winegrowing regions.

The signatory regions from the US were:

Napa Valley



Walla Walla


The signatory regions from the EU were:


Oporto (the region where Port wine is produced)

Jerez (the region where Sherry is produced)


The list of signatories to the agreement expanded in March 2007 when Sonoma County, Paso Robles, Chianti Classico, Tokay, Victoria, Australia and Western Australia signed the Declaration at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

Red or white wine

The colour of wine is not determined by the juice of the grape, which is almost always clear, but rather by the presence or absence of the grape skin during fermentation. Grapes with coloured juice, for example alicante bouchet, are known as teinturier. Red wine is made from red (or black) grapes, but its red colour is bestowed by a process called maceration, whereby the skin is left in contact with the juice during fermentation. White wine can be made from any colour of grape as the skin is separated from the juice during fermentation.

Rosé wine

A white wine made from a very dark grape may appear pink, "rosé" or "blush".

Table wine

Table wines may have an alcohol content that is no higher than 14% in the U.S.. In Europe, light wine must be within 8.5% and 14% alcohol by volume. As such, unless a wine has more than 14% alcohol, or it has bubbles, it is a table wine or a light wine. Table wines are usually classifed as "white," "red," or "rosé," depending on their colour. In Europe 'vins de table' (in French), 'vino da tavola' (in Italian) or 'vino de mesa' (in Spanish), which translate to 'table wine' in English, are cheaper wines that often on the label do not include the information on the grape variety used or the region of origin.

Sparkling wines

Sparkling wines such as champagne, contained carbon dioxide which is produced naturally from fermentation or force-injected later. To have this effect, the wine is fermented twice, once in an open container to allow the carbon dioxide to escape into the air, and a second time in a sealed container, where the gas is caught and remains in the wine. Sparkling wines that gain their carbonation from the traditional method of bottle fermentation are called 'Bottle Fermented', 'Méthode Traditionelle', or 'Méthode Champenoise'. The latter designation is considered wrong by those who hold that Champagne refers to the origin as well as the method of production. Other international denominations of sparkling wine include Sekt or Schaumwein (Germany), Cava (Spain), and Spumante (Italy). 'Semi Sparkling wines' are Sparkling Wines that contain less than 2.5 atmospheres of carbon dioxide at sea level and 20 degrees C. Some countries such as the UK impose a higher tax on fully sparkling wines. Examples of Semi-Sparkling wines are Frizzante Italy, Vino de Aguja Spain, Petillant France.

Dessert wine

Dessert wines range from slightly sweet (with less than 50 g/L of sugar) to incredibly sweet wines (with over 400 g/L of sugar). Late Harvest Wines such as Spätlese are made from grapes harvested well after they have reached maximum ripeness. Dried grape wines, such as Recioto and Vin Santo from Italy as well as Vinsanto from Santorini Greece , are made from grapes that have been partially raisined after harvesting. Botrytized wines are made from grapes infected by the mold Botrytis cinerea or noble rot. These include Sauternes from Bordeaux, Numerous wines from Loire such as Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume, Tokaji Aszú from Hungary and Tokaj from Slovakia, and Beerenauslese from Germany and Austria. Eiswein is made from grapes that are harvested while they are frozen.

Fortified wine

Fortified wines are often sweeter, and generally more alcoholic wines that have had their fermentation process stopped by the addition of a spirit, such as brandy, or have had additional spirit added after fermentation. Examples include Port, Madeira and Banyuls.

Cooking wine

Cooking wine or Cooking sherry refers to inexpensive grape wine or rice wine (in Chinese and other East Asian cuisine). It is intended for use as an ingredient in food rather than as a beverage. Cooking wine typically available in North America is treated with salt as a preservative and food colouring. When a wine bottle is opened and the wine is exposed to oxygen, a fermentative process will transform the alcohol into acetic acid resulting in wine vinegar. The salt in cooking wine inhibits the growth of the acetic acid producing microorganisms. This preservation is important because a bottle of cooking wine may be opened and used occasionally over a long period of time.

Cooking wines are convenient for cooks who use wine as an ingredient for cooking only rarely. However, they are not widely used by professional chefs, as they believe the added preservative significantly lowers the quality of the wine and resultantly the food made with that wine. Most professional chefs prefer to use inexpensive but drinkable wine for cooking, and this recommendation is given in many professional cooking textbooks as well as general cookbooks. Many chefs believe there is no excuse for using a low quality cooking wine for cooking when there are quality drinkable wines available at very low prices. (e.g. "Two Buck Chuck")

Cooking wine is considered a wine of such poor quality, that it is unpalatable by itself and intended for use only in cooking. (There is a school of thought that advises against cooking with any wine one would find unacceptable to drink; however, a recent study has found that inexpensive wine works as well as expensive wine in cooking.)


A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown in a single specified year, and are accordingly dated as such. In the United States for a wine to be vintage dated (and labeled with a country of origin or AVA, such as "Napa Valley" or "New Zealand") it must contain at least 95% of its volume from wines harvested in that year. If a wine is not labeled with a country of origin or AVA, such as "Napa County", it must contain at least 85% of its volume from wines harvested in that year. Many wines, particularly good quality red table wines, can improve in flavor with age if properly stored. Consequently, it is not uncommon for wine enthusiasts and traders to save bottles of an especially good vintage wine for future consumption. Most countries allow a vintage wine to include a portion of wine that is not from the labeled vintage. Recent research suggests vintage year may not be as significant to wine quality as currently thought.

For some types of wine, the best-quality grapes and the most care in wine-making are employed on vintage wines and they are therefore more expensive than non-vintage wines. Whilst vintage wines are generally made in a single batch so that each and every bottle will have a similar taste, climatic factors can have a dramatic impact on the character of a wine to the extent that different vintages from the same vineyard can vary dramatically in flavor and quality. Thus, vintage wines are produced to be individually characteristic of the vintage and to serve as the flagship wines of the producer. Non-vintage wines, however, are blended from a number of vintages for consistency, a process which allows wine makers to keep a reliable market image and also maintain sales even in bad vintage years. Superior vintages, from reputable producers and regions, will often fetch much higher prices than their average vintages. Some vintage wines are only made in better-than-average years.

Wine tasting

Wine tasting is the sensory evaluation of wine. The color, aroma, flavor and feel of the wine in the mouth are all assessed. The main aims of wine tasting are to:

  • assess the wine's quality.
  • determine the wine's maturity and suitability for aging or drinking.
  • detect the aromas and flavors of the wine.
  • discover the many facets of wine, so as to better appreciate it.
  • detect any faults the wine may have

To assess a wine's quality, one must gauge its complexity of aroma and flavor, determine the intensity of the aroma and flavor, check that the flavors and structural elements — such as acid, tannin and alcoholic strength — are well balanced, and finally see how long the wine persists in the mouth after tasting.

Practiced wine tasters will gauge the wine's quality in other ways too. These include, whether the wine is of high quality with respect to other wines of its price, region or vintage; if it is typical of the region it is made in or diverges in style; if it uses certain wine making techniques, such as barrel fermentation or malolactic fermentation; or if it has any wine faults. Many professional wine tasters, such as sommeliers or buyers for retailers, look for characteristics in the wine which are desirable to wine drinkers or which indicate that the wine is likely to sell or mature well.

Blind tasting

To ensure impartial judgment of a wine, it should be served blind — that is, without the taster(s) having seen the label or bottle shape. Blind tasting may also involve serving the wine from a black wine glass to mask the color of the wine. A taster's judgment can be prejudiced by knowing details of a wine, such as geographic origin, price, reputation, color, or other considerations.

Scientific research has long demonstrated the power of suggestion in perception as well as the strong effects of expectancies. For example, people expect more expensive wine to have more desirable characteristics than less expensive wine. When given wine that they are falsely told is expensive they virtually always report it as tasting better than the very same wine when they are told that it is inexpensive. French researcher Frédéric Brochet "submitted a mid-range Bordeaux in two different bottles, one labeled as a cheap table wine, the other bearing a grand cru etiquette" and obtained predictable results. Tasters described the supposed grand cru as "woody, complex, and round" and the supposed cheap wine as "short, light, and faulty." Blind tastings have repeatedly demonstrated that price is not highly correlated with the evaluations made by most people who taste wine.

Similarly, people have expectations about wines because of their geographic origin, producer, vintage, color, and many other factors. For example, when Brochet served a white wine he received all the usual descriptions: "fresh, dry, honeyed, lively." Later he served the same wine dyed red and received the usual red terms: "intense, spicy, supple, deep."

The world of wine has numerous myths and exaggerations that are only now being disproven scientifically, yet they influence perceptions and expectancies. Not even professional tasters are immune to the strong effects of expectancies. Therefore, the need for blind tasting continues.

Vertical and horizontal tasting

Vertical and horizontal wine tastings are wine tasting events that are arranged to highlight differences between similar wines. In a vertical tasting, different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery are tasted. This emphasizes differences between various vintages. In a horizontal tasting, the wines are all from the same vintage but are from different wineries. Keeping wine variety or type and wine region the same helps emphasize differences in winery styles.

Tasting flights

Tasting flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, but sometimes as many as fifty, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.

Glasses used in tasting flights are usually smaller than normal wine glasses, and they are often presented on top of a sheet of paper which identifies each wine and gives some information about each grape or vineyard. This format allows tasters to compare and contrast different wines.

An extended tasting will typically consist of several flights, each with a theme. For example, several wines from the same region and vintage would comprise a flight, or several wines from the same variety but different regions. It is typically the responsibility of the tasting organizer to select flights that offer maximum illumination of similarities and differences, while at the same time making sure the progression of flights is appropriate.

Serving temperature

For a tasting, still wines should be served at between 16 and 18°C (60 and 64°F), even if the wines would usually be served chilled. At this temperature, the aromas and flavors of the wine are believed to be most easily detectable. It also ensures that the wines can be judged in a standardised way.

The exception to this convention is sparkling wine which is usually tasted chilled. The thinking behind this is that many sparkling wines can be unpleasant in the mouth when they are warm.


The shape of a wineglass can have a subtle impact on the perception of wine, especially its bouquet. Typically, the ideal shape is considered to be wider toward the bottom, with a narrower aperture at the top ('egg', or perhaps, 'beaker' shaped). 'Tulip'-shaped glasses, which are widest at the top are considered the least ideal. Many wine tastings use ISO XL5 glasses, which are 'egg'-shaped. Interestingly, the effect of glass shape does not appear to be related to whether the glass is pleasing to look at.

Order of tasting

Tasting order is very important, as heavy or sweet wines can dominate lighter wines and skew the taster's assessment of those wines. As such, wines should be tasted in the following order: sparkling wines; light whites, then heavy whites; roses; light reds; heavy reds; sweet wines.

Without having tasted the wines, however, one does not know if, for example, a white is heavy or light. Before tasting, try to determine the order the wines should be assessed in, by appearance and nose alone. Remember that heavy wines will be deeper in color and generally more intense on the nose. Sweeter wines, being denser, will leave thick, viscous streaks (called legs) down the inside of the glass, when swirled.

The wine tasting process

There are five basic steps in tasting wine: color, swirl, smell, taste, and savour. This is also known as the five Ss: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savor. During this process, a taster must look for clarity, varietal character, integration, expressiveness, complexity, and connectedness.

A wine's color is better judged by putting it against a white background. The wine glass is put at an angle in order to see the colors. Colors can give the taster clues to the grape variety, and whether the wine was aged in wood.

Characteristics assessed during tasting

Varietal character describes how much a wine presents its inherent grape aromas. A wine taster also looks for integration, which is a state in which none of the components of the wine (acid, tannin, alcohol, etc). When a wine is well balanced, the wine is said to have achieved a harmonious fusion.

Another important quality of the wine to look for is its expressiveness. Expressiveness is the quality the "wine possesses when its aromas and flavors are well-defined and clearly projected. Overhandling the wine bottle can disturb its expressiveness. The complexity of the wine is affected by many factors, one of which may be the multiplicity of its flavors. The connectedness of the wine, a rather abstract and difficult to ascertain quality, is how connected is the bond between the wine and the land where it comes from.

Connoisseur wine tasting

A wine's quality can be judged by its bouquet and taste. The bouquet is the total aromatic experience of the wine. Assessing a wine's bouquet can also reveal faults such as cork taint, oxidation due to heat overexposure, and yeast contamination (e.g., due to Brettanomyces). To some wine aficionados, the presence of some Brettanomyces aromatic characteristics is considered a positive attribute; however to others, even the slightest hint of Brettanomyces character is cause for a wine’s rejection.

The bouquet of wine is best revealed by gently swirling the wine in a wine glass to expose it to more oxygen and release more aromatic etheric, ester, and aldehyde molecules that comprise the essential components of a wine's bouquet.

Pausing to experience a wine's bouquet aids the wine taster in anticipating the wine's flavors and focusing the palate. Once inside the mouth, the aromatics are further liberated by exposure to body heat, received by the interior pathway and delivered to the olfactory epithelium. It is here that the complex taste experience characteristic of a wine actually commences.

Thoroughly tasting a wine involves perception of its array of taste and mouthfeel attributes, which involve the combination of textures, flavors, and overall "structure". Following appreciation of its olfactory characteristics, the wine taster savors a wine by holding it in the mouths for a few seconds to saturate the taste buds. Taste buds are also found in the larynx; therefore an extended sip or draw, in which the wine is allowed pass slowly through the mouth and past the epiglottis, presents the connoisseur with the fullest gustatory profile available to the human palate.

The acts of pausing and focusing through each step distinguishes wine tasting from simple quaffing. Through this process, the full array of aromatic molecules is captured and interpreted by approximately 15 million highly-specific sensory receptors. When tasting several wines in succession, however, key aspects of this fuller experience (length and finish, or aftertaste) must necessarily be sacrificed through expectoration.

Although taste qualities are known to be widely distributed throughout the oral cavity, the concept of an anatomical "tongue map" yet persists in the wine tasting arena, in which different tastes are believed to map to different areas of the tongue. A widely accepted example is the misperception that the tip of the tongue uniquely tells how sweet a wine is and the upper edges tell its acidity.


As an alcoholic drink, wine can affect the consumer's judgement. As such, at formal tastings, where dozens of wines may be assessed, wine tasters generally spit the wine out after they have assessed its quality.

Visiting wineries

Travelling to wine regions is another way of increasing skill in tasting. Many wine producers in wine regions all over the world offer tastings of their wine. Depending on the country or region, tasting at the winery may incur a small charge to allow the producer to cover costs.

It is not considered rude to spit out wine at a winery, even in the presence of the wine maker or owner. Generally, a spittoon will be provided. In some regions of the world, tasters simply spit on the floor or onto gravel surrounding barrels. It is polite to inquire about where to spit before beginning tasting.

Attending Wine Schools

A growing number of wine schools can be found, offering wine tasting classes to the public. These programs often help a wine taster hone and develop their abilities in a controlled setting. Some also offer professional training for sommeliers and winemakers in the art of wine tasting.

Château Margaux, a first growth from the Bordeaux region of France, is highly collectible.

Château Margaux, a first growth from the Bordeaux region of France, is highly collectible.
At the highest end, rare, super-premium wines are amongst the most expensive of all food, and outstanding vintages from the best vineyards may sell for thousands of dollars per bottle. Such wines are considered by some as Veblen goods. The most common wines purchased for investment include Bordeaux, cult wines and Port. The reasons for these choices over thousands of other products and regions are:
They have a proven track record of holding well over time.
Their plateau drinking window (the period for maturity and approachability) is of many, many years, where the taster will be able to enjoy the wine at its best.
There is a record of quality and consensus amongst experts as to the uniqueness of the wines.
Investment in fine wine has attracted a number of fraudsters who play on fine wine's exclusive image and their clients' ignorance of this sector of the wine market] Wine fraud scams often work by charging excessively high prices for the wine, while representing that it is a sound investment unaffected by economic cycles. Like any investment, proper research is essential before investing. False labeling is another dishonest practice commonly used.


Wine production by country 2005[53]


(with link to wine article)



Flag of FranceFrance



Flag of ItalyItaly



Flag of SpainSpain



Flag of United StatesUnited States of America



Flag of ArgentinaArgentina



Flag of People's Republic of ChinaChina



Flag of AustraliaAustralia



Flag of South AfricaSouth Africa



Flag of GermanyGermany



Flag of ChileChile



Flag of PortugalPortugal



Flag of RomaniaRomania


The first ten grape producing countries in the world (2005) are:


q x 1,000


86,200 (13.14%)


67,785 (10.33%)


63,275 (9.64%)


59,258 (9.03%)


56,000 (8.53%)


36,500 (5.56%)


28,297 (4.31%)


28,000 (4.27%)


22,500 (3.43%)


20,265 (3.09%)

TOTAL 656,134
Wine grapes grow almost exclusively between thirty and fifty degrees north or south of the equator. The world's most southerly vineyards are in the Central Otago region of New Zealand's South Island near the 45th parallel,[54] and the most northerly is in Flen, Sweden, just above the 59th parallel.[55]
Evolution of wine production in the European Union in 2005 and 2006
Forecasts 2006 (millions of hectolitres)
 Italy : 52036
 France : 51700
 Spain : 39301
 Germany : 8995
 Portugal : 7390
 Greece : 3908

Forecasts 2005 (millions of hectolitres)
 France : 52105
 Italy : 50562
 Spain : 34789
 Germany : 9256
 Portugal : 7266
 Greece : 3997


Exporting countries

The 14 largest exporting nations (2005 figures) – Italy, France, Spain, Australia, Chile, the United States of America, Germany, South Africa, Portugal, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia and Argentina. California produces about 90% of the wine in the United States. In 2000, Great Britain imported more wine from Australia than from France for the first time in history.

First ten wine exporting countries in 2005


Thousands of Hectolitres















South Africa






TOTAL 78,729

The leaders in export volume by market share in 2003 were:
Flag of FranceFrance, 22%
Flag of ItalyItaly, 20%
Flag of SpainSpain, 16%
Flag of AustraliaAustralia, 8%
Flag of ChileChile, 6%
Flag of United StatesUnited States, 5%
Flag of PortugalPortugal, 4%
Flag of GermanyGermany, 4%


Wine yearly consumption, per capita:      less than 1 litre.      from 1 to 7 litres.      from 7 to 15 litres.      from 15 to 30 litres.      More than 30 litres.

Wine is a popular and important beverage that accompanies and enhances a wide range of European and Mediterranean-style cuisines, from the simple and traditional to the most sophisticated and complex. Wine is important in cuisine not just for its value as a beverage, but as a flavor agent (primarily in stocks and braising) in which its acidity lends balance to rich savory or sweet dishes. Red, white and sparkling wines are the most popular, and are also known as light wines, because they only contain approximately 10-14% alcohol. (Alcohol percentages are usually by volume.) The apéritif and dessert wines contain 14-20% alcohol, and are fortified to make them richer and sweeter than the light wines.
The labels on certain bottles of wine suggest that they need to be set aside for an hour before drinking to breathe, while other wines are recommended to be drunk as soon as they are opened. Decanting is a controversial subject in wine. In addition to aeration, decanting removes some of the bitter sediments from the bottle. Sediment is more common in older bottles but younger wines benefit more from the aeration.[56]
During aeration, the exposure of younger wines to air often "relaxes" the flavors and makes them taste smoother and better integrated in aroma, texture, and flavor. Wines that are older generally fade (lose their character and flavor intensity) with extended aeration.[citation needed] Breathing, however, does not benefit all wines, and should not therefore be taken to the extreme. In general, wine should be tasted as soon as it is opened to determine how long it may be aerated, if at all.

Religious uses

See also: Kosher wine, Christianity and alcohol, and Islam and alcohol
The use of wine in religious ceremonies is common to many cultures and regions. Libations often included wine, and the religious mysteries of Dionysus involved wine as a sacrament of entheogen, a fact denounced by Justin Martyr as a diabolical mockery of Christ:
when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that the devil has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses? Dialogue with Trpypho ch. 64
Wine plays an integral part of Jewish laws and traditions. The Kiddush, a blessing said before starting the first and second Shabbat or festival meals and Havdallah, a blessing said after the Shabbat or festival are required to be said over wine if available. On Pesach (Passover) during the Seder, it is also required to drink four cups of wine.[57] In the Tabernacle and in the Temple in Jerusalem, the libation of wine was part of the sacrificial service.[citation needed] A blessing over wine said before indulging in the drink is: "Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha-olam, boray p’ree hagafen" (Praised be the Eternal, Ruler of the universe, who makes the fruit of the vine).
In Christian services wine is used in a sacred ritual called Communion or the Eucharist, which originates in Gospel accounts of the Last Supper when Jesus blesses the bread and wine and commands his followers to "do this in remembrance of me." Wine was used in the rite by all Protestant groups until an alternative arose in 1869 when Methodist minister-turned-dentist Thomas Bramwell Welch applied new pasteurization techniques to stop the natural fermentation process of grape juice.[citation needed] Some Christians who were part of the growing temperance movement pressed for a switch from wine to grape juice, and there remains an ongoing debate between some American Protestant denominations as to whether wine can or should be used in moderation for the Eucharist or for merriment. Outside the United States, most Protestant groups use wine.[citation needed] The use of wine is forbidden under Islam. Iran used to have a thriving wine industry that disappeared after the Islamic revolution in 1979.[58]

Health effects

Red table wine
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy 80 kcal   360 kJ



2.6 g

- Sugars  0.6 g



0.0 g


0.1 g


10.6 g


10.6 g alcohol is 13 vol%.
100 g wine is 100 mL (3.4 fl oz.)
Sugar and alcohol content can vary.
Source: USDA Nutrient database


See also: Alcohol consumption and health and Grape and raisin toxicity in dogs
The health effects of wine (and alcohol in general) are the subject of considerable ongoing study.[59] In the USA, a boom in red wine consumption was initiated in the 1990s by '60 Minutes', and other news reports on the French paradox. The French paradox refers to the lower incidence of coronary heart disease in France than in the USA despite high levels of saturated fat in the traditional French diet. Epidemiologists suspect that this difference is attributed to the high consumption of wines by the French, however this suspicion is based on limited scientific evidence.

Population studies have observed a J curve association between wine consumption and the risk of heart disease.[60] This means that abstainers and heavy drinkers have an elevated risk, whilst moderate drinkers have a lower risk.[61] Population studies have also found that moderate consumption of other alcoholic beverages may be cardioprotective, though the association is considerably stronger for wine. These studies have found a protective effect from both red wine as well as white wine, though evidence from laboratory studies suggests that red wine may possess superior health benefits including prevention of cancer due to the fact red wine contains more polyphenols than white wine due to the production process.[62]
A chemical called resveratrol is thought to be at least partly responsible for red wines' health benefits, as it has been shown to exert a range of both cardioprotective as well as chemoprotective mechanisms in animal studies.[63] Resveratrol is produced naturally by grape skins in response to fungal infection, which includes exposure to yeast during fermentation. As white wine has minimal contact with grape skins during this process, it generally contains lower levels of resveratrol. Other beneficial compounds in wine include other polyphenols, antioxidants, and flavonoids.

Red wines from South-West France and Sardinia Italy have been found to have the highest levels of procyanidins - the compounds in grape seeds responsible for making red wine good for the heart. Wines from south-west France and Sardinia have between two and four times as much procyanidins as other red wines. Procyanidins suppress the synthesis of a peptide called endothelin-1 that constricts blood vessels.[66]
Whilst evidence from both laboratory studies as well as epidemiology (observational studies) suggests wines' cardioprotective effect, no evidence from controlled experiments - of which long-term studies are still ongoing - currently exists to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Moreover, excessive consumption of alcohol including wine can cause some diseases including cirrhosis of the liver and alcoholism.[67] Also the American Heart Association cautions people "not to start drinking ... if they do not already drink alcohol. Consult your doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation".[68]

Adverse Reactions to Wine

Some people report negative reactions to various types of wine, which can include severe headaches, nausea, and even anaphylactic reactions. Although these symptoms are unlikely to be a result of allergy, they could be caused by certain compounds in wine.[69]
Sulphites are present in all wines and are formed as a natural product of the fermentation process. Additionally, many wine producers add sulphur dioxide in order to help preserve the wine. The level of added sulphites varies, and some wines have been marketed with low sulphite content. [70]
Sulphites in wine are not a problem for most people, although some people, particularly people with asthma, can experience adverse reactions to them. Sulphur Dioxide is also added to many other foods though, for example in dried apricots and Orange Juice.
Histamine is a chemical released by the body in the true allergic response, and it is also found in wine (red wine more so than white). It is thought by some people that histamine is a possible cause of these adverse reactions, although there is no clear evidence of this. [71]

Packaging & Storage
Assorted wine corks

Assorted wine corks
See also: Cork (material), Alternative wine closures, Wine bottle, and Box wine
Most wines are sold in glass bottles and are sealed using a cork. Recently a growing number of wine producers have begun sealing their product with alternative closures such as screwcaps or synthetic plastic "corks". Some wines are packaged in heavy plastic bags, which are typically packaged further within cardboard boxes, similar to the packaging of breakfast cereal. Consumers may not be fully aware when purchasing box wine that it is not hermetically sealed like a bottle, and thus should be treated just like an opened bottle in terms of shelf life. The contents of boxed wine are typically accessed via a tap on the side of the box. In addition to being less expensive, alternative closures prevent cork taint, although alternative closures can also cause other types of wine spoilage.
Wine cellars offer the opportunity to protect alcoholic beverages from potentially harmful external influences, providing darkness and a constant temperature. Wine is a natural, perishable food product. Left exposed to heat, light, vibration or fluctuations in temperature and humidity, all types of wine, including red, white, sparkling, and fortified, can spoil. When properly stored, wines not only maintain their quality but many actually improve in aroma, flavor, and complexity as they mature.

Cooper: Someone who makes wooden barrels, casks, and other similar wooden objects.
Négociant: A wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers, and sells them under his own name. Sometimes, this term is simply a synonym for wine merchant.
Vintner: A wine merchant or producer.
Sommelier: A person in a restaurant who specializes in wine. They are usually in charge of assembling the wine list, staff education and making wine suggestions to customers
Winemaker: A person who makes wine. May or may not be formally trained.
Garagista: One who makes wine in a garage (or basement, or home, etc.) An amateur wine maker. Also used in a derogatory way, when speaking of small scale operations of recent inception, or without pedigree(ie. small scale winemakers of Bordeaux).
Oenologist: Wine scientist or wine chemist, student of oenology. A winemaker may be trained as oenologist, but often instead uses a consultant oenologist
Viticulturist: A person who specializes in the science of the grapevines themselves. Can also be someone who manages a vineyard (decides how to prune, how much to irrigate, how to deal with pests, etc.)

Film and television
A Good Year, 2006. Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe in an adaptation of Peter Mayle's novel.
Mondovino, USA/France 2004: A documentary film directed by American film maker, Jonathan Nossiter, explaining the impact of globalization on the various wine-producing regions.
Sideways, 2004: A comedy/drama film, directed by Alexander Payne, with the tagline: "In search of wine. In search of women. In search of themselves." Wine, particularly Pinot Noir, plays a central role.
A Walk in the Clouds 1995, is a love story set in a traditional vineyard showcasing different moments in the production of wine.
French Kiss, 1995. Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline act in this romantic comedy. Kline's character wants to have his own vineyard since he comes from a family of winemakers. The character has even made his own aroma sampling kit.
Falcon Crest, USA 1981-1990: A CBS primetime soap opera about the fictional Falcon Crest winery and the family who owned it, set in the fictional Tuscany Valley of California. The series was very popular and a wine named Falcon Crest even went on the market.
Crush, USA 2007:Produced & Directed by Bret Lyman. A documentary short that explores the 2006 grape harvest and crush in California's wine country. Features Winemaker Richard Bruno.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License