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“The soft extractive note of an aged cork being withdrawn has the true sound of a manopening his heart.” —William Samuel Benwell

Wine is a popular drink around the world,bringing joy, happiness and a hearty cheer. But wine of yester years was not the drink weknow of wine today. In those days there was no fermentation in stainless steel vats, no controlled temperatures and most definitely no technological advancements that we enjoy intoday’s production.

But then even without the modern facilities of today’s wine played an important role in those ancient times. Recent archaeological evidence suggests a thriving online wine industry in Greece as early as 4500 BC, supported by evidence of crushed grapes in the ruins. The ancient Greeks believed that wine was a gift from god Dionysus. And since corks did not exist as a wine closure the wine bottle mouths use to be coated with olive oil and sealed with pine bark. This method retarded evaporation of the wine and the olive oil prevented contamination by the air. The pine bark also lent the wine a nice fruity and piney aroma, a prized feature in many of the Australian wines of today.

It may surprise you to know that wine grapes are highly sensitive. The slightest change in the climatic conditions can spoil the grapes totally. Powerful winds can break the flowers from the wine and spoil the crop. Too much rain can cause the wine grapes to rot and too much sun can over ripen the grapes and quickly destroys the taste achieved by a long and slow ripening process. There are wines that don’t come to life until the grapes rot. For example Sauternes are a classic style of wine that can only be made when the grapes have been infected by the botrytis cinerea fungus. This infection is called the noble wine rot.

The barrels the wines are stored in, have a major impact on the taste of wines. White wine is normally stored in stainless steel vats and red wines in oak barrels. However contemporary winemaking is leaning to unoakedstyles as consumers prefer the lighter fruitier wines that are less oaked. This idea is backed up by many wine enthusiasts arguing that wine is supposed to taste like the fruit and not a tree.

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