Piedmont Wine Lexicon - R

Red wine

Red wine is made exclusively from blue grapes. In contrast to white wine, the stones, skins and stems are also fermented during pressing. These contain valuable tannins, aromas and colorings that begin to develop during the mash fermentation. In the distribution of white wine and red wine regions, a north-south gradient can be identified, which is due to the fact that the red grapes prefer to thrive in very warm areas. So in the north (besides beer) people tend to drink white wine and in the south they tend to drink red wine. In addition, there is a special type of wine, the rosé wine.

Compared to white wines, red wines have less acidity, but considerably more tannins. The alcohol content is also slightly higher. During the mash fermentation, the fructose turns into alcohol. The heaviest red wines can develop an alcohol content of up to 15% vol. The aroma spectrum of red wines is diverse. The taste of wild berries and cherries is typical. Other flavors are, for example, mocha, vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon. If the fermentation is stopped early, red wines develop into a light thirst quencher. If the fermentation takes longer, however, complex, heavy and alcoholic red wines develop, which are of particular interest to gourmets.


Riserva is an addition to the Italian wine classification. He points out that wines must meet certain criteria with regard to storage, cultivation and aging, such as longer storage than the same wine without the addition. The next higher quality level for the addition is riserva speciale.

Grape varieties

The grapes are obtained from the noble grapevine and used as fruit (table grapes), raisins and for wine production. Around 8,000 to 10,000 grape varieties are known worldwide, but only 2,500 of them are permitted for wine production. This illustrates the strict quality criteria of the wine in order not to dilute the most complex drink of all time for the discerning connoisseur. 140 grapevines are grown in Germany, of which Riesling and Müller-Thurgau (Rivaner) are best known.

A pyramidal hierarchical gradient can be observed among the grape varieties. Only about 24 of the approximately 2500 grapes are approved for market policy. The 50 most popular grape varieties account for 95% of the area under cultivation. In total, the area for worldwide viticulture is approx. 7.9 million hectares, in Germany it is just over 100,000 hectares.

The noble grapevine is one of the oldest plants on earth. Scientists estimate their age to be around 100,000,000 years. While the Egyptians used to be considered the first people to cultivate wine, numerous new discoveries were able to shake the old knowledge. According to current information, the first evidence of wine growing in the South Caucasus is in the area of ​​today's Armenia and Georgia. The sources could date back to 5800 BC. To be dated. Sources from Sumeria in Mesopotamia from 5000 BC follow. While the Egyptians cultivated the cultivation of wine, this was of the highest importance as an exquisite luxury food in ancient Greece and Rome. With Dionysus and Bacchus, wine was even consecrated to its own gods. In the Middle Ages, Charlemagne provided the first wine regulations, while in the age of the colonies other important growing areas could be obtained overseas. Other vines were lost over time to drought, disease and cold. The individual grape varieties differ from one another in terms of quality and many other properties.Some have distinctive unique selling points such as the nutmeg taste of the muscatel or the spicy Gewürztraminer, whose peculiarities are already expressed in the name. Important white wine grapes are Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Muskateller and Savignon Blanc. For red wine, these are Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel. The sub-science within vinology that deals with the individual grape varieties is ampelography.


The reassembly describes a pumping process during the must fermentation to aromatize the wine. The aim is to bring the must into contact with the berries, skins and blacks so that these high tannic components of the wine can release their aromas, colors and fragrances (bouquet) to the must. These strive upwards during fermentation and form a so-called pomace cap.

The reassembly process has to be carried out several times because the must flows down again after being pumped over. Only when the process has been repeated several times, the solid components of the berry have given off enough aromatic substances to the must. The alternative to achieving the same effect is pineage.

Residual sugar

In the wine language, residual sugar describes the portion of the remaining sugar in the wine that was not fermented to alcohol and carbon dioxide after fermentation. In order to increase the proportion of residual sugar in sweet wines, cellar masters have various methods of stopping. These methods consist in the addition of alcohol, which stops the yeast activity, in the addition of sulfur dioxide, in the cooling and in the filtration including subsequent sterile filling.

The residual sugar consists mainly of fructose, as this sugar ferments faster than glucose. Non-fermentable sugars, the pentoses, are also contained in the residual sugar. The natural limit of fermentation of sugar is 0.7 g / l. If the amounts of residual sugar are very low, they no longer produce a sweet taste, but rather a soft and mild basic tone. Cellar masters use filtration and pasteurization methods to avoid secondary fermentations that cause cloudiness and wine defects.

Wines are divided into dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet with regard to their residual sugar content. In Germany the criteria are:

Dry wines: up to 9 g / l residual sugar if the acid content is less than 2 g / l.
Semi-dry wines: up to 15 g / l.
Semi-sweet (Sweet) wines: up to 45 g / l.
Sweet wines: over 45 g / l.

Reductive expansion is the alternative to oxidative expansion. While a slight diffusion with oxygen is absolutely desirable with oxidative expansion, this is avoided with reductive expansion. The wine matures in tanks, for which modern stainless steel tanks are available in industrial production today. Smaller vintners also use bottles, where the small amount of residual oxygen in the bottle neck is quickly used up. In the case of reductive expansion, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon can also be used to create an inert atmosphere.

The reductive expansion is usually used for white wines and sparkling wines, giving the wine a fresher, clearer and fruity appearance when it matures - lively taste is given with a flowery bouquet. A strictly reductive white wine is usually noticeably light with a color spectrum between white and light yellow. While the strictly reductive method was popular in the 1980s, white wines and sparkling wines are more likely to be kept in a moderately reductive state today. The reason for this is that if there is too little oxygen, the wine becomes too superficial and also reacts too sensitively to oxygen contact after filling.A little more oxygen, on the other hand, gives the wine more complexity, depth and structure

Just a few years ago, hardly any German knew what a rosé wine was. This has changed in recent years, because like in other countries the rosé wine, whose tradition is founded in the wine region of Provence, is enjoying itself. There, 80% of all wines are processed into rosés. In Germany, the share of rosé wines in sales has quadrupled in recent years from 2 to 8%.

For a rosé, like a red wine, red grapes are used. The production is similar to that of a white wine. In a rosé wine, the grapes are allowed to lie on the mash for a maximum of a few hours in order to absorb at least some of the color, aroma and tannins. If this happens, one speaks of the maceration method. If this is not done at all, the pressing method is used so that the rosé wine only has a slight pink shimmer. The third production method, the Saignée method (French: bloodletting), is similar to maceration. Here, the rosé wine is created as a by-product of red wine production, in that the rosé wine is removed from the mash after a predetermined period of time. The rest of approx. 80% remains and is further processed into red wine. This method is carried out so that the remaining red wine can absorb even more extract and color than usual due to its smaller volume. It tastes more concentrated and intense afterwards. The fourth method, a blend of red and white wines, is prohibited in the EU and may only be used for sparkling wines.

In a rosé wine, the color varies between a pale pink and cherry red, depending on the grape variety and production. Due to their low tannin content, rosé wines are very refreshing and popular summer wines. They like to be served chilled. Their taste is similar to light red wines.

Cultured yeasts

Cultured yeasts were developed from the 1970s. They are increasingly replacing natural fermentation (spontaneous fermentation) with controlled conditions. The types of yeast that have been developed for this purpose are pure (while natural yeast is always a mixture of several types of yeast) and cultivated. It was thus possible to obtain types of yeast that have been optimized for the wines and have ideal conditions for the fermentation process. In some cases, different pure yeasts are used for different grape varieties, depending on which yeast type best suits the grape variety.

In recent years there has been a religious battle between winemakers. Some winemakers swear by the new pure yeast technology and consider this to be superior to natural yeasts. They also refer to the elimination of risks that are triggered again and again by the spontaneous statements. Other winegrowers expect a greater variety of flavors by resorting to traditional spontaneous fermentation and are open to the risks that can also have positive effects. They see the opportunities rather than the risks and complain that the standardized use of pure yeast has led to a uniformization of wine tastes. Ultimately, the form of fermentation used is a question of personality and style, where there is no right or wrong.


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