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.





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