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The Change Of The Must By Fermentation Into Wine








Let us glance for a few moments at this wonderful, simple, and yet so
complicated process, to give a clearer insight into the functions which
man has to perform to assist Nature, and have her work for him, to
attain the desired end. I cannot put the matter in a better light for
my readers than to quote again from DR. GALL. He says:--"To form a
correct opinion of what may and can be done in the manufacture of wine,
we must be thoroughly convinced that Nature, in her operations, has
other objects in view than merely to serve man as his careful cook and
butler. Had the highest object of the Creator, in the creation of the
grape, been simply to combine in the juice of the fruit nothing but
what is indispensable to the formation of that delicious beverage for
the accommodation of man, it might have been still easier done for him
by at once filling the berries with wine already made. But in the
production of fruits, the first object of all is to provide for the
propagation and preservation of the species. Each fruit contains the
germ of a new plant, and a quantity of nutritious matter surrounding
and developing that germ. The general belief is, that this nutritious
matter, and even the peculiar combination in which it is found in the
fruit, has been made directly for the immediate use of man. This,
however, is a mistake. The nutritious matter of the grape, as in the
apple, pear, or any similar product, is designed by Nature only to
serve as the first nourishment of the future plant, the germ of which
lies in it. There are thousands of fruits of no use whatever, and are
even noxious to man, and there are thousands more which, before they
can be used, must be divested of certain parts, necessary, indeed, to
the nutrition of the future plant, but unfit, in its present state, for
the use or nourishment of man. For instance, barley contains starch,
mucilaginous sugar, gum, adhesive matter, vegetable albumen, phosphate
of lime, oil, fibre and water. All these are necessary to the formation
of roots, stalks, leaves, flowers and the new grain; but for the
manufacture of beer, the brewer needs only the first three substances.
The same rule applies to the grape.

"In this use of the grape, all depends upon the judgment of man to
select such of its parts as he wishes, and by his skill he adapts and
applies them in the best manner for his purposes. In eating the grapes,
he throws away the skins and seeds; for raisins, he evaporates the
water, retaining only the solid parts, from which, when he uses them,
he rejects their seeds. If he manufactures must, he lets the skins
remain. In making wine, he sets free the carbonic acid contained in the
must, and removes the lees, gum, tartar, and, in short, everything
deposited during, and immediately after fermentation, as well as when
it is put into casks and bottles. He not only removes from the wine its
sediments, but watches the fermentation, and checks it as soon as its
vinous fermentation is over, and the formation of vinegar about to
begin. He refines his wine by an addition of foreign substances if
necessary; he sulphurizes it; and, by one means or another, remedies
its distempers.

"The manufacture of wine is thus a many-sided art; and he who does not
understand it, or knows not how to guide and direct the powers of
Nature to his own purposes, may as well give up all hopes of success in
it."

So far DR. GALL; and to the intelligent and unbiased mind, the truth
and force of these remarks will be apparent, without further extending
or explaining them. How absurd, then, the blind ravings of those who
talk about "natural" wines, and would condemn every addition of sugar
and water to the must by man, when Nature has not fully done her part,
as adulteration and fraud. Why, there is no such thing as a "natural
wine;" for wine--good wine--is the product of art, and a manufacture
from beginning to end. Would we not think that parent extremely cruel,
as well as foolish, who would have her child without clothing, simply
because Nature had allowed it to be born without it? Would not the
child suffer and die, because its mother failed to aid Nature in her
work, by clothing and feeding it when it is yet unable to feed and
clothe itself? And yet, would not that wine-maker act equally foolish
who has it within his power to remedy the deficiencies of Nature with
such means as she herself supplies in good season, and which ought and
would be in the must but for unfavorable circumstances, over which we
have no control? Wine thus improved is just as pure as if the sugar and
water had naturally been in the grapes in right proportions; just as
beneficial to health; and only the fanatical "know-nothing" can call it
adulterated. But the prejudices will disappear before the light of
science and truth, however much ignorance may clamor against it.
GALILEO, when forced to abjure publicly his great discovery of the
motion of the earth around the sun as a heresy and lie, murmured
between his teeth the celebrated words, "And yet it moves." It _did_
move; and the theory is now an acknowledged truth, with which every
schoolboy is familiar. Thus will it be with improved wine-making. It
will yet be followed, generally and universally, as sure as the public
will learn to distinguish between good and poor wine.

Let us now observe for a moment the change which fermentation makes in
converting the must into wine. The nitrogeneous compounds--vegetable
albumen, gluten--which are contained in the grape, and which are
dissolved in the must as completely as the sugar, under certain
circumstances turn into the fermenting principle, and so change the
must into wine. This change is brought about by the fermenting
substance coming into contact with the air, and receiving oxygen from
it, in consequence of which it coagulates, and shows itself in the
turbid state of must, or young wine. The coagulation of the lees takes
place but gradually, and just in the degree the exhausted lees settle.
The sugar gradually turns into alcohol. The acids partly remain as
tartaric acid, are partly turned into ether, or settle with the lees,
chrystallize, and adhere to the bottom of the casks. The etheric oil,
or aroma, remains, and develops into bouquet; also the tannin, to a
certain degree. The albumen and gluten principally settle, although a
small portion of them remains in the wine. The coloring matter and
extractive principle remain, but change somewhat by fermentation.

Thus it is the must containing a large amount of sugar needs a longer
time to become clear than that containing but a small portion of it;
therefore, many southern wines retain a certain amount of sugar
undecomposed, and they are called _sweet_, or liqueur wines; whereas,
wines in which the whole of the sugar has been decomposed are called
_sour_ or _dry_ wines.

I have thought it necessary to be thus explicit to give my readers an
insight into the general principles which should govern us in
wine-making. I have quoted freely from the excellent work of DR. GALL.
We will now see whether and how we can reduce it to practice. I will
try and illustrate this by an example.





Next: Normal Must

Previous: The Acidimeter And Its Use



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