The diversity and
quality of wine, results from the kinds of grapes used, the distinctive qualities of the soil,
the location and the climate.
Greek vineyards are
cultivated on mountain slopes of up to 800m above the sea-level or at
sea-level. The soil characteristics for the majority of the vineyards is
rocky limestone. There is also a percentage that is cultivated
on fertile plains. The vineyards are
spread over great areas of land but occupy small amounts of it.
The Greek landscape is
ideal for unique microclimatic conditions favoring the cultivation of
local grape varieties. The combination of a mild climate, a lot of
sunshine and low rainfall make soils of moderate fertility and small
crops of excellent quality.
All wines are made in a
similar way, with variations depending on the type to be produced. The
treatment of the
mass of crushed grapes and juice (called the must),
Wine is ultimately
derived from the carbon dioxide in the air, which penetrates the leaves
of the vine and is converted into starches. During absorption into the
grape the starches are turned into the sugars fructose and glucose.
During the fermentation process the sugars are converted into ethyl
alcohol and carbon dioxide. The longer the grapes are left on the vine,
the higher their sugar content will be.
At the winery the
grapes are crushed and stemmed. Adding sulfur dioxide or rapidly heating
the must suppresses the growth of wild yeasts and other organisms that
grow naturally in the vineyard. Depending on the kind of wine, the juice
may be separated from the skins in order to avoid getting skin
pigmentation in the wine. In red-wine production the skins, seeds, and
juice are all fermented together.
To aid fermentation,
yeast is added to convert the sugars to alcohol at different stages. Fermentation takes
place in large vats, from which air is excluded to prevent oxidation and
discourage the growth of vinegar-forming bacteria.
Fermentation takes from
ten to 30 days. During the process, temperature control is necessary to
promote yeast growth and to extract the flavors and colors from the
skins (if skins are fermented). The best temperature for yeast growth is
about 25 degrees Celsius.
the wine is drawn off to separate it from the sediment
of largely dead yeast cells. Some wines deposit their sediment quickly,
but other wines remain cloudy for long periods. The suspended particles
must be removed by clarification.
Wine is usually aged in
wooden containers made of oak or redwood. The process allows oxygen to
enter and water and alcohol to escape. Acidity decreases, additional
clarification takes place, and the components of the wine form compounds
that enhance flavor and aroma. The wood from the containers also
contributes flavor. The wood-aging process may last many months or
several years, depending on the wine and the quality desired.
Before bottling, wine
may require blending, filtration, and the addition of an antiseptic
agent to prevent microbe development. Some wines are aged in bottles
before being sold. Red wines especially may profit from two to twenty
years of bottle aging.
Portions of information copyright © 1993, 1994 Comptons