There is a lot more to a bottle of wine than a pretty container. Actually, the container usually has absolutely no direct bearing on the quality of the contents. A fine wine is also more than a fermented grape. The true beauty of a fine wine lies in the care with which the whole process is completed.
A wine does not start as wine. Most commonly, wines get their beginnings as a humble grape. There are about 4,000 distinctively different species of grapes, that can be used to produce many different combinations of wine. Each grape is generalized to a specific climate, region or altitude, but a few species are extremely hardy and will grow anywhere.
Even the same grape may grow differently - therefore taste differently - from one climate, region or altitude. The grapes are cared for in a way that will produce the healthiest possible crop. The better the crop, the better the end product. Winegrowers are always improving on their growing techniques. However, many winegrowers are superstitious and still use techniques that have survived the test of time.
When ripe the grapes are carefully picked and then processed. This step is not as easy as it sounds. Picking the grapes is an exact science. Pick the grapes too soon or too late and the wine will not have the desired taste. If the grape freezes, the grape is all but worthless.
Choosing the exact time, temperature and weather to pick a grape is a choice only gained by experience. Once picked, the next step begins. Some companies choose to press their grapes, while other companies choose to crush their grapes.
Both have unique opportunities not allowed by the other. Again, processing grapes is chalked full of superstition. Long ago, winegrowers believed that only barefoot, virgin females could crush wine. As time passed, both methods have been entwined to best fit the times and practices commonly accepted by society. The grape is handled in various ways, all offering a unique touch to the grape, according to the wine desired as an end product.
Sometimes, the whole grape is processed by the pressing or crushing technique; other times, the skin, stems, and seeds are removed before the pressing or crushing technique. This option is essential, yet uniquely different, for each desired affect. Interestingly the fermentation process is as unique as the wines. Wine can be fermented inside or outside of the bottle, in warmer or cooler weather, and for months or decades. The time taken for the fermentation process usually depicts the quality of the wine. Sometimes the fermentation takes place above ground, other times it is undertaken below ground.
Bottling is a unique finishing touch to any fine wine. Although a fine wine's quality is never determined by the bottle, the wine bottle offers the consumer an opportunity to experience the class of the wine. The label usually addresses such things as the name of the wine, the type of wine and the wine producer. Producing a fine wine is not an easy feat nor is it a task to be taken lightly.
Wine producers invest large amounts of time and patience and love into their products with the hope that in the end, the wine will please the consumer.
Steve Thomas writes about wine and maintains a website on UK related wine resources at Winez