Wine and fermented juices have played a role in civilization for at least 8,000 years. In 2017, Residue containing tartaric acid, a signature of wine, was discovered in a the remains of a clay jar in the country of Georgia, dating to 8,000 years old.
Records by Egyptians give the first written account of grape wine, and date to around 2500 B.C. Egyptians employed much the same method for producing wines as are present today, including cultivating, fermenting, bottling, and storing wines. As with any refined skill that has weathered the years, the knowledge of winemaking has come and gone, its methods have evolved, and the final product has flourished.
Wine usually contains between 10% and 14% alcohol by volume. Dessert and fortified wines usually contain more. In accordance with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, and Firearms (ATF), a wine must have no more than 14% alcohol, else it is classified as a “high fermentation wine”, a term that applies to most dessert (e.g. Muscat) and fortified wines (e.g. cognac and port).
Differences between red and white wines include the kinds of grapes used, the fermentation and aging process, and the character and flavor of the finished product.
First, the grapes themselves are noticeably different, with a predominantly red or white color of skin, although the juice of both types is mostly clear.
When fermented, additional pressing of the red grapes releases many tannins and colors into the wine, contributing to the deep, velvety color and flavor of red wines. Following fermentation, the wine may be matured and conditioned in oak barrels for several months. This will add additional wood tannins and flavors. As this could overpower the subtler flavors of white wines, few (such as Chardonnay) are aged in oak. These same tannins, however, help intensify and add richness to a red wine, which is why most reds are aged in oak.
The result is that red wines exhibit a set of rich flavors with spicy, herby and even meaty characteristics. On the other hand, white wines are light in character, with crisp, fruit flavors and aromas.
Each state has its own set of rules governing the shipment of wines to and from that state.
Oregon is a “Reciprocity” state, meaning it has passed legislation allowing shipment of wines to and from other Reciprocity states with few restrictions. This doesn’t mean consumers can send wine through US Mail — that’s illegal — but it does mean consumers in Oregon (or other Reciprocity states) will have an easier time purchasing from wineries, and shipping to their home.
Other states have much stricter regulations, to the extent of making shipping wine a felony crime!
OregonWines.com is not an authority on shipping laws. We would advise anyone concerned about Oregon shipping laws to contact the winery from which they wish to purchase wines.
Additional information can be found at the following Web addresses:
The term “appellation” varies slightly from country to country, but in the more basic sense, it is the region in which a wine was produced. The term “AVA” (American Viticultural Area) is the North American equivalent of the word ‘appellation’ and refers to a specific growing region.
Oregon has 17 official AVAs and several new ones are currently under review for consideration.
Though some wineries and vineyards are located outside of these regions, the majority of Oregon wines can be classified under a regional AVA.
Wines produced with grapes originating from more than one of these AVAs may simply be labeled as an Oregon wine.
For more information on AVA guidelines, please visit the following Web address:
To be labeled an Oregon wine, at least 75% of the wine’s grapes must have been grown in Oregon. In some cases, a wine can be labeled under two states, such as “Oregon/Washington”, though there are strict rules governing the labeling of such a wine. There are Oregon wineries that produce Washington appellation wines, and vice versa. The area in which the grapes were grown determines the appellation of the wine.
For more information on appellations guidelines, please visit the following Web address:
A varietal is simply a single type of grape used in wine production.
A “varietal wine” is made predominantly from one type (or varietal) of grape.
Examples of varietals include Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Syrah.
In Oregon, a varietal wine must contain at least 90% of its wine from a single variety of grape. The other 10% may come from blending in other varietals, a practice commonly employed by wineries to produce unique flavors in their wines. This other 10% may also result from a vineyard whose vines containing a few “stray” varietals, which, unless expressly detected, may go unknown for years.
The only exception to Oregon’s 90/10 law is with Cabernet Sauvignon, which may contain up to 25% of another varietal.
A dry wine has had most or all of its natural sugars converted to alcohol during the fermentation process, producing a wine relatively strong in alcohol, but with very little sweetness.
Examples of dry wines include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.
A sweet wine is just what it sounds like. Unlike a dry wine, a sweet wine still has considerable amounts of natural sugar following fermentation.
Because less sugars have been converted to alcohol, sweet wines may have less overall alcohol than their dry counterparts.
Examples of sweet wines include Riesling, Muller Thurgau, and Dolcetto.