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What makes grapes uniquely suited to making wine?

Grapes are unique in that they have the balance of sugar, acidity and tannins to make wine so complex. Other fruits can be too acidic, or too sweet and not acidic enough. When people make wine from other fruits, they tend to add water or sugar (or both) to get it in balance. Grapes also require less fuss when it comes to the fermentation process – they can naturally convert their sugar into alcohol, while other fruit sources lack the nutrients to make this happen as easily.

What is the racking process of winemaking?

Racking is the process of moving wine from one container to another (usually from barrel to barrel, or from barrel to tank), leaving behind any sediment. Sediment is the solid material left from the grape pulp, skin and seeds that settles at the bottom of the barrel or tank. Racking is considered more gentle than filtering, and can help aerate the wine.

What happens to a wine’s color as it ages?

As red wines age, their color will transition from a dark, dense color to a paler shade of red-brick brown. On the contrary, the coloring of white wines will go from a pale straw color to a darker amber-gold hue over time. The color of wine, and its change over time, also depends on the particular grape variety, the length of time the grape skins are in contact with the grape juice during and after fermentation, and the amount of time the wine spends aging inside an oak barrel.

Originally published in our Wine Press' Wine Wizard, Buttonwood Farm Winery edition featured in our Gold Wine Club.