Ask the Wine Making Expert – Harm Woldring
At one time, in the western hemisphere at least, wine had the distinction of being virtually the only safe beverage to drink that could also be stored for extended periods of time. Water, in cities, could often be lethal and beer, which is shelf stable especially after pasteurization, didn’t come into being until the inclusion of hops in the brewing process. Beer’s predecessor, ale, was not shelf stable and needed to be drunk soon after fermentation. Other beverages like chocolate, coffee and tea only came to Europe after global trade began in earnest in the 17th century. Spirits, or distilled beverages, only came into existence after the Dutch developed the distillation process at about the same time. The invention or at least improvement in processes and techniques for the making, glass and the use of cork to seal the bottles were other breakthroughs in the development of the wine culture. Glass bottles provided a container size that was more suitable for both measured consumption and long term aging and storage.
Modern wines, vineyard practices and fermentation technologies have radically changed wines over the centuries. In the past, many reds were undrinkable for long periods of time after they were made with one winemaker famously observing that ‘…this wine will only be suitable to drink long after I die…’. Most wines today are designed and produced to be drunk fairly young in comparison. Technologies and developments in agriculture and the development of a vast array of suitable yeasts have impacted the development of wine as well. There is very little or nothing left to chance in the modern world of wine making. Less than a century ago ‘stomping grapes by foot’ was still fairly common. Today the other extreme can be found in wineries that are so thoroughly automated that human hands barely ever touch the product from start to finish. Some of the technological developments have also made it possible to ship wines to virtually anywhere in the world with the addition of preservatives and stabilizers.
came onto the market wine became a less dominant player in people’s day to day lives. Having said that, the growth of the world’s population has more than made up the difference in the global volume of wine produced and consumed. Total worldwide consumption for 2013 was in excess of 24.7 Billion litres or about 33 Billion standard bottles. Wine grape cultivation and wine making have also spread to the far corners of the earth. The recent and continuing trend in climate change has also brought cultivation to regions where, in the past, growing wine grapes and producing wine was inconceivable.
While wine is considered a daily beverage in many traditional European societies in others, particularly Great Britain which still doesn’t have a significant domestic wine making industry, it was, and continues to be, a significant source of government tax revenue. As in Great Britain many former British Empire countries still heavily tax all alcoholic beverage products. In Canada the Provinces and Territories have monopoly rights on the distribution and sale of all alcoholic beverages. Like Great Britain, our Provincial Governments also lean heavily on the taxation of alcohol as a significant source of tax revenue and net profits on its distribution and sales operations.
At The Wine Factory, and stores like ours, consumers come in and purchase wine grape juice, and with our assistance produce wine for their own personal consumption. There are some notable benefits to making your own wine, not the least of which is significantly lower prices and reductions in the volumes of chemical preservatives and stabilizers. At The Wine Factory, since we never use animal based fining agents to clear our wines, your wines will also be Vegan. To learn more about making your own wine come and see us, we’d be happy to answer your questions.