red wine

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A glass with red wine

Red wine is made from blue grapes produced wine . In addition to the type of grapes used , it also differs from white or rosé wine in the manufacturing process . A red wine is made through maceration or digestion. In addition to the alcoholic fermentation of the colorless juice of the berry, certain components are extracted from the solid parts of the mash . The solid components of the berry mash are made up of the skin of the berries, the seeds and possibly the stalk of the grape (which, in botanical terms, is a panicle ). In the classic manufacturing process, the desired components are extracted during the must fermentation, the duration of which can be determined individually. Another method uses mash heating prior to fermentation.

With the exception of the dye grapes , the red pigments are only found in the berry skin. It is therefore possible to produce white wines from red grape varieties. The character of the wine is significantly influenced by the duration of the must fermentation. With a short duration, fruity wines are created with no potential for aging . By prolonged maceration, the proportion of dissolved tannins and phenols in wine strongly, enabling the development of a large warehouse wine.

The intensive leaching of the berry peel requires particularly healthy and ripe grapes, as long contact with the mash prevents the transition of fungi and other undesirable microorganisms such as B. vinegar bacteria favored in the wine, which can lead to wine defects and wine diseases . On the other hand, the composition of the tannins differs between less ripe and fully ripe grapes, and it is above all the “ripe tannins” that define the quality and balance of a red wine. Since berry ripeness and the absence of fungal diseases depend heavily on the climate of the wine year, the quality of red wine is significantly more dependent on the vintage than that of white wines. The proportion of tannins and anthocyanins can vary by 100% depending on the year , the acidity by 50% and the must weight by up to 15–20%. One of the tasks of anthocyanins in plants is to protect the plants from the strong UV light of the sun by absorbing certain wavelengths . This prevents damage to the proteins in the cell and the DNA in the cell nuclei . The amount of colorants formed also depends on the intensity of the radiation, which is why winemakers in southern wine-growing regions prefer red grape varieties. Red berries that did not reach physiological ripeness result in wines with a grassy character.

For several decades, is malolactic fermentation , called malolactic fermentation for a variety of red wines deliberately initiated. This makes the red wines rounder and softer in taste. However, the process is not equally suitable for every red wine.

History of red wine

The oldest evidence for the production of wine is an eight thousand year old pressing plant near Damascus . Other signs come ( 5th millennium BC ) from Iran and Mesopotamia .

Red wine is known from ancient times as an important drink and medicine. Among other things, it was prescribed by Hippocrates 400 BC for disorders of the cardiovascular system .

Growing areas

Fully ripe red wine grapes, just before they are harvested

Red wine grapes (→ list of grape varieties ) are grown in many countries with a suitable climate.

Well-known grape varieties from which excellent red wines are made worldwide are for example Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot , whose cuvée (blend) includes Cabernet Franc , and Pinot Noir . There are a number of other grape varieties from which first-class red wines are made, such as Sankt Laurent and Lemberger in Germany .


Red wine is made by first fermenting the grape mash for a certain period of time . During this two-up fermentation on the skins, which lasts up to 30 days, some of the colorants ( anthocyanins ) contained in the skins are released . A few grape varieties contain the necessary colorings in their juice right from the start (e.g. Dornfelder or Dunkelfelder ); they are therefore also often taken with the cuvée to give other red varieties a deeper shade of red.

The most important production steps are destemping , mashing , pressing (pressing), fermentation and, under certain circumstances, fining . The pulp of most berries is almost colorless; the colorants are only in the berry skins, depending on the variety, yellowish, red or dark blue. In contrast to white wine production, the skins of red wine are not separated from the must after squeezing and reeling , but depending on the temperature (usually between 20 and 30 ° C), the must is stored on the mash for a few days to a month. If the dwell time on the mash is shorter, the result is a delicately colored rosé wine .

The most important vinification processes are submerging the pomace cake, which can be done manually or mechanically, carbonic acid maceration and mash heating . The must is then desiccated (pressed) and fermented.

In addition to the coloring, there are tannins and flavorings in the berry peel; as a result, red wines contain more ingredients than white wines . For a harmonious bouquet , the maturation time of red wine is therefore longer than that of white wine; very young red wines that are particularly rich in tannins often appear rough and closed.

Tannin is the substance that can make red wines bitter and leave a furry, contracting feeling in the mouth. Tannin and acid also have the positive property of having a preservative effect, which means that wines with a high proportion of one or both substances can keep for many years in the bottle.

In order to obtain a strongly colored red wine, the winemaker strives to bring as much red dye and the right amount of tannins from the skins into the wine. For optimal extraction, the shell parts and the must must remain in constant contact; the floating mash layer is therefore repeatedly submerged mechanically. Alternatively, the mash is heated to speed up this process.

After the first ( alcoholic ) fermentation, a second ( malolactic ) fermentation may take place, usually at an elevated temperature. This is also known as "malolactic fermentation" (BSA). The hot malic acid (apple = Latin malum ) is bacterially converted into mild lactic acid (milk = Latin lactus ). This is particularly important after years of harvest with unfavorable, cool weather, because the grapes can then contain an increased proportion of malic acid, which negatively affects the taste experience.

After fermentation, the red wine is expanded . This maturation process can take place in barrels , barriques or tanks of various sizes , depending on the grape variety , quality, style and wine tradition . Depending on the type of wine, quality, potential and vintage, the maturation period can extend over a period of several weeks to years. The longer this process takes, the more expensive it is. Wines with potential are usually aged for longer. Then the wine is bottled.

When using barriques, a long extraction of wood components from oak barrels is desired. Since wooden barrels release about 70–80% of their flavor when they are used for the first time, a barrique barrel should only be used about three times to enhance the taste. Most wines ferment in steel or plastic tanks.


Traditionally, red wine is not only made from a single variety or location, its grapes can also come from different red wine varieties and vineyards. In the modern cellar economy, the various batches are usually developed separately according to location and type and then combined to form a cuvée . The cuvée is then matured for some time before it is bottled. The art of blending is called “marriage”, whereby a successful cuvée should have a higher quality and complexity than the individual parts from which it was composed. The production not only requires knowledge and experience, but also a feeling for the matter. The grape varieties of traditional red wine cuvées are specified by professional organizations in Chianti in Tuscany , in Bordeaux or Châteauneuf-du-Pape in southern France. High-quality red wine cuvées are increasingly coming from Germany , especially from the traditional wine regions of Württemberg , Rheinhessen and Palatinate . In Austria , Burgenland in particular has made a name for itself with top-quality red wine cuvées.

Wine storage

Only wines that are not intended for immediate consumption are stored. During storage, the wine changes its taste and color. By changing the ingredients, the age of a wine can be determined e.g. B. with the monomer index . During its aging in the bottle, the wine gradually develops its taste complexity and maturity, which marks the moment when a wine develops its greatest fullness and intensity of taste. If this peak is exceeded, it slowly loses its taste and color charm. The color of red wine becomes lighter with age and changes from intense red tones to brown, as its iron-containing color pigments and dyes oxidize. During the storage process, organic components of the wine such as tartar, color pigments and yeast are formed through polymerization and precipitation and collect as sediment, as a so-called depot in the bottle. The older a red wine is, the more depot it has formed.

Whether this biochemical post-maturation process in the bottle leads to an improvement in the wine quality depends, among other things, on the quality of the grapes, the level of yield and the type of winemaking and aging. In addition, there are characteristics and properties such as structure, potential, specific vintage characteristics, variety and storage conditions. A red wine of value can be stored for years, sometimes decades. Consumer wines do not have to be stored, they are usually bottled ready-to-drink and do not experience any improvement in quality through storage.

The temperature and humidity should be right for good wine storage. The ideal temperature is 10 to 13 degrees Celsius with high humidity and should fluctuate as little as possible. Light also has a negative effect on the development of the wine. These ideal conditions correspond to cellars that are as far below the surface of the earth as possible and have a natural floor, or special, artificially air-conditioned wine storage cabinets. It should be noted that the wine should be stored as calmly and lying down as possible, as vibrations affect its quality.

Sensory properties of red wine

A red wine can develop complex aromas , which are mostly perceptible in combinations, but often only in tendencies. Some examples:

  • Vanilla, mocha, tobacco, cocoa (for barrique wines)
  • Berries (strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, currant, blueberry)
  • Plums
  • Wood notes (oak, chestnut, cedar)
  • chocolate
  • Cherries
  • Spice notes (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)
  • Paprika (with unripe Cabernet Sauvignon)

Marinating and cooking with red wine

Red wine is also used in marinating and cooking food.

When marinating meat , red wine not only has the function of flavoring, it also makes the meat soft. The collagen of the meat's connective tissue is attacked, loosened and partially gelatinized by acids , tannins and other components of the wine, which makes the meat more tender and releases flavor. Marinating too long can cause the tartaric acid to dominate the taste of the meat. Red wine marinades are best for dark meat such as lamb, beef, game or game poultry.

When cooking with red wine, the wine is boiled down, whereby its ingredients such as acids and tannins are concentrated. This intensifies the biochemical disintegration processes that take place during cooking, which increases the range of active ingredients involved, which can have positive effects on the formation of aromas and the consistency of the food. In a classic dish like coq au vin , for example, a rooster is used as the original ingredient, the dark meat of which can enter into a flavor symbiosis with the red wine during a long and slow cooking process. Even sauces fund and sauces like sauce bordelaise can get a strong aroma and dark color by greatly reduced (boiled) Red, the color scheme is not only due to red dyes, but also to roasting, which form in the sauce production. If the taste of a dish is rounded off with red wine at the end of the cooking process, i.e. the wine is not cooked, the red wine taste has a defining effect, which is why the wine should be dosed carefully so that it does not dominate the taste and color of the dish or sauce. Low-quality red wine is not suitable for cooking, as unpleasant ingredients such as immature acids and tannins can be added during the boiling process.

Rich wine vinegar can be made from red wine .

Health aspects

There is a widespread belief that moderate consumption of red wine is beneficial for health. This is due, among other things, to the observation, known as the French Paradox , that French people who are assumed to consume more wine have a higher life expectancy than residents of other countries. Excessive alcohol consumption damages the body in a number of ways. Alcohol intoxication occurs above a certain blood alcohol concentration . The severity ranges from mild intoxication to alcoholic coma .

There is an acute health risk after consuming wine that has been poisoned by methanol . The best- known example of this is the methanol wine scandal of 1986.

In particular, some types of cancer can be prevented by red wine. This effect is mainly attributed to the herbal antioxidant resveratrol , which initiates a mechanism at the end of which corresponding cancer cells are destroyed. It should be noted, however, that alcohol consumption increases the likelihood of developing various other diseases, such as B. Larynx cancer , greatly enlarged. The possibly health-promoting aspect of moderate amounts of alcohol should therefore be assessed critically.

According to recent research, the high polyphenol content in a few red wines has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. The Tannat variety provides the highest levels of polyphenols of all grape varieties, which have been shown to prevent cardiovascular diseases, with traditional processing, i.e. with longer fermentation with skins and seeds (three to four weeks). Because of the high natural content combined with the complete extraction in the two small growing areas in France and Sardinia, this wine contains a good four times as much polyphenols as all the other red wines tested. Procyanidin has been identified as the main active ingredient .

See also

Web links

Commons : Red Wine  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


Health issues

  • R. Corder, W. Mullen, NQ Khan, SC Marks, EG Wood, MJ Carrier, A. Crozier: Oenology: Red wine procyanidins and vascular health . Nature 444, 566, November 30, 2006.
  • Roger Corder: The Wine Diet . Sphere, 2006, ISBN 1-84744-003-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. Jancis Robinson: The Oxford Wine Lexicon. Hallwag Verlag, Munich 2003, p. 48.
  2. Horst Dippel : The wine dictionary. 4th edition, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 32.
  3. Jancis Robinson: The Oxford Wine Lexicon. Hallwag Verlag, Munich 2003, p. 43.
  4. ^ Stuart Pigott , Andreas Durst, Ursula Heinzelmann, Chandra Kurt , Manfred Lüer, Stephan Reinhardt: Wine speaks German. Scherz, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-502-19000-4 , pp. 45-49.
  5. Till Ehrlich: Wine color in wine tasting. Considerations about the effectiveness of color. In: Journal Culinaire, Culture and Science of Eating. No. 10, Münster 2010, Edition Wurzer & Vilgis , p. 130 f.
  6. Horst Dippel: The wine dictionary. 4th edition, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 253.
  7. Hervé This-Benckhard : Riddles and secrets of the art of cooking. Explained scientifically. Piper-Taschenbuch, Munich 1998, p. 110 f.
  8. a b Till Ehrlich: 200 questions about wine. Honestly answered . Hallwag, Munich 2006, pp. 154–156.
  9. Hervé This-Benckhard : Riddles and secrets of the art of cooking. Explained scientifically. Piper-Taschenbuch, Munich 1998, p. 67
  10. Wine: Stunning idea . In: Der Spiegel . No. 16 , 1986, pp. 130-132 ( Online - Apr. 14, 1986 ).
  11. You live more healthily with red wine.