Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Basics of Spirits and Wine

What are Spirits

Alcohol is basically a hydroxyl compound such as ethanol or methanol. The process of fermentation with an organic substance (usually sugar) is transformed by a single-celled microorganism such as yeast into alcohol. Distilled alcohol is also called a spirit. The process of spirits distillation is heating a fermented liquid, evaporating off the alcohol as vapor, and then condensing it back into liquid form. Spirits are classified by the fermented material that they are distilled from. Vodka, Gin, Whiskies, and most types of Schnapps are made by distilling a kind of beer made from grain. Rum and Cane Spirits derive from fermented sugar cane juice or molasses. Brandy is made from fermented grape juice, and Fruit Brandy is made from other fruits. Tequila and Mezcal come from the fermented pulp of the agave plant.

What is Wine

Any fruit juice can be used to make wine, but the majority of all wine is made from the juice of the grape. Yeast is the magical ingredient that turns grape juice into wine. Yeast is a living organism that feeds off of sugars in the grape juice in a process called fermentation. There is yeast spores in the air and all that is really needed to make wine is an open container of grape juice and time. Yeast spores will reproduce exponentially until all of the fermentable sugars have been consumed. During this fermentation process, the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The yeast will then impart a taste to the finished wine depending on various factors such as the strain of yeast used, temperature during fermentation, and etc. After the fermentable sugars have been consumed, the yeast will fall to the bottom of the container, the wine will be removed to another container to mature then to wait to be bottled.