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Italian Wines

The origins of the cultivation of vine, a typically Mediterranean tree, are very ancient. From this tree's fruit, i.e. the grapes, you get through the alcoholic fermentation of its juice, the wine, a drink well-known since two thousand years.
You can get a wide range of wines according to the grapes and the process you follow to change the grapes' juice into wine: sweet wines, sparkling wines, new wines and aged wines. As to the latter, they are usually aged in cellars thanks to preservation techniques whose purpose is to improve the wine's quality.
Still today the Mediterranean diet includes bread, pasta, olive oil, wine and vegetables. Both in Italy and in Europe you cannot have lunch or dinner or you cannot spend a night out with your friends without drinking good wine.


Mainly four steps characterize the working process of wine: the wine pressing; the must clearing; the wine ripening in containers of various type and for different periods according to the kind of wine you want to get; the wine refinement inside the bottles. Neverthless each kind of wine (red, white, rosé, raisin wine etc.) needs special devices.

    You get red wines from black grapes; small amounts of white grapes are sometimes added to the black ones.
    First the grapes are picked from the bunches, then they are trodden.
    During the alcoholic fermentation process the marcs (i.e. the grapes' peels) are mixed together with the must for a time going from few days to two or more weeks: in fact, the prolonged contact with the marcs increases the release of tannins which are necessary for wine aging. In addition the grapes' peel contains further substances affecting the wine's density, colour and fragrance.
    Afterwards the marcs are separated from the must; the latter is sifted and is decanted into steel or wooden containers: first the alcoholic fermentation and then the malolactic fermentation take place inside them.
    Then the wine is decanted again. As far as "D.O.C." wines are concerned, both ripening time and kinds of containers are established by specific regulations.
    You usually get white wines from white grapes even though some important white wines are got from the pressing of black grapes.
    The main feature of white wines is that grapes are lightly pressed so that you can get only the must without marcs; in some cases, such as Cinque Terre wines, the grapes are mixed for some time together with the marcs.
    The fermentation and the ripening take place in steel containers in the case of fresh and fruity wines whereas wooden containers are used for wine aging.
    A recent technology allows the whole process to take place at low temperatures, in order to enhance the fragrance of some kinds of grapes.
    Some people think that rosé wines are the result of mixing white wines with red wines. It is not true: the typical colour of rosé wines is due to a very short maceration of black grapes with the marcs, which are however soon kept away from the must. It is a delicate process permitting to get a product whose colour is neither too much light nor too much dark.
    Rosé wines are above all soft wines. They must be consummed within one year or a little further.
    You get sparkling wines mainly from white wines (or from black grapes which have not been mixed with marcs during the fermentation process); special yeasts, causing a peculiar fermentation called "getting froth", are added to the white wines.
    There are two main methods:
    1. in the Charmat Method (which was invented by the Italian oenologist Martinotti) the process of "getting the froth" takes place in steel pressure-resistant containers: this method is exploited both for fragrant wines such as Moscato or Brachetto and for semi-dry or dry wines such as Prosecco;
    2. in the Classical Method of French origin (only in the case of sparkling wines produced in France in the region of Champagne you can use the word "Champenois") the whole fermentationn process takes place inside the bottles.
      The bottles are corked and put in "pupitres" at first horizontally and then they are gradually tilted and turned by hand so that the fermentation's impurities can settle in the bottleneck.
      After some time the bottleneck is frozen, the bottle is uncorked and the frozen deposit of impurities is taken away; the bottle is filled in with further wine; finally the bottle is corked again by using the typical mushroom-shaped corks.
      That kind of elaborate working process justifies the higher price of sparkling wines got throughout the "Classical Method".
    New wines are got by using the carbon maceration technique: it is based on the pressing of whole bunches of ripe grapes, which undergo the maceration process with no oxygen.
    In that way you get a product characterized by strong fruity smell and peculiar fragrance, lasting however just few months; that is why this product is put on the market the first week of November and it should be consummed before the end of the winter.
    Raisin wines are got from the late wine-making (usually between January and February) of grapes which are let wither on the tree itself or on specific trellis.
    The must usually ferments in steel containers; the ripening is completed at first in wooden containers and then in bottles.
    Sweet wines are wines to which alcohol has been added.
    The most well-known Italian sweet wine is Marsala. You can find on the market raisin sweet wines too.


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