Wine is a light alcoholic product of the fermented juice of the grape. The alcohol it contains is developed by the chemical change which the grape sugar undergoes. This fruit contains a peculiar material which establishes the fermentative process in a manner analogous to that of yeast in moistened flour; and this ferment resolves the sugar into alcohol. The amount of ferment bears a close relation to the amount of sugar; and if the ferment fall below a due proportion, all the sugar will not be converted into alcohol, and the wine will be of the sweet class; while if the proportion of sugar is deficient, the wine will be of the sour class. It is from the fact that the grape contains enough of each element to make a complete fermentation, and produce a fluid strong enough in alcohol to be self-preserved, that it makes the true wines. Some other fruits, as the elderberry and blackberry, contain so little sugar that they will not yield sufficient alcohol to keep their wines from passing into the acetous stage of fermentation; and this deficiency has to be made up by the addition of some cane sugar, and wines thus manufactured are termed bastard wines. In the case of some grapes, the proportion of sugar is so small that the wine contains but a small percentage of alcohol, and these are called light wines. Sometimes the juice may be so poor in sugar that it will need quickly to be concentrated by boiling, or else cane sugar will have to be added; and a similar process may be pursued in the case of blackberries and currants.
The steps essential to the production of a good wine are few and simple. They may be summed up under three requirements: 1. Perfectly ripe fruit, free from all unripe or mildewed berries. 2. A steady temperature at no time below 60° nor above 77° F. 3. Perfectly clean vessels. The different steps are of these general characters: The grapes being carefully gathered when a little overripe, are mashed in a wooden vat with holes in the bottom. The juice, grape-stones, and a small portion of the husks or skins, pass into a lower vat—though the husks are kept back if the wine is desired to be of a light color and free from a portion of astringency. The mixed juice thus obtained is called the must. By maintaining it at a temperature of between 60° and 65°, fermentation soon begins; froth rises abundantly to the surface, along with the skins; carbonic acid gas is given off, the temperature of the must at the same time rising. The liquor gradually acquires a vinous flavor, and the fermentation slowly slackens, till after a few weeks it has so nearly ceased as to be imperceptible. The skins and other solids now fall to the bottom of the vat, and the liquor becomes clear. When this change has taken place, the wine is drawn (racked) off into clean casks, and bunged tightly. The process of fermentation still goes on imperceptibly for several months, during which time the solids fall to the bottom, and carry with them the crude tartrates of potassa and lime that are formed.
The first steps in the process of fermentation should be conducted in a barrel evenly full, lying upon its side, with the bung open. As some of the froth runs over, the waste should be replaced with a little water from day to day. The liquor should not be racked off till it becomes quite clear; and then it should be drawn with a syphon, or through a faucet high enough up to avoid disturbing the lees that have fallen to the bottom. The casks into which it is now drawn should be new, and should be prepared by plunging within the bunghole a single lighted match, (or at most two,) and afterward well washed with pure water. If the wine seem to remain turbid in the first cask, after all active fermentation has ceased, it can be clarified by thoroughly mixing with it the whites of half a dozen eggs stirred into a quart of water, or a little isinglass dissolved into a quart of water, and allowing it to stand a few days longer. When racked off into the new barrels, it is to be bunged tightly; and then kept in a cool place not liable to vibrations. Changes still go on called the ripening process, occupying from several months to a number of years, in different kinds of wine; during which crude tartar and other earthy materials slowly settle to the bottom of the cask, and the wine improves in flavor.
In addition to alcohol, wine contains various flavoring and coloring materials peculiar to the variety of grape from which it is manufactured; some being white and others red, some slightly astringent from the presence of a little tannin, and those from tart grapes being sour. Sparkling wines are made by bottling the liquor before the final fermentation of the racked wine ceases, so as to retain some of the carbonic acid gas in it by tying down the corks. If a wine is wanted pale, the husks of grapes are pressed lightly and strained out of the liquor as it passes out of the pressing vat; while the color from red grapes is heightened by pressing the grapes firmly, and allowing a small portion of them to go into the fermenting barrel. The husks, and some of the stems, give the higher shades of astringency, as in port wine. Dried raisins may be crushed, macerated in water, and made into wine of a fine flavor.
No vinous product is, technically, called wine, unless made from grapes; yet a similar liquid may be prepared from blackberries, raspberries, and currants, and are usually classed among the wines. These fruits do not contain enough saccharine materials to furnish a sufficient amount of alcohol to preserve them. Two methods to effect this may be pursued, namely: 1st. Proceeding as in the case of wines in general, and having racked off the liquor at the proper time, a pint of fourth-proof brandy is added for each gallon of the wine. 2d. The juice having been pressed from the mashed fruit, sugar is added at the rate of two pounds for each gallon of elderberry, raspberry, and currant juice, and one pound for each gallon of the blackberry juice. The latter method is far preferable to the other, and is indeed the only proper one. Wine thus prepared may be preserved for any length of time; and is as good, for medical purposes, as many of the foreign wines, especially as now obtained. I can especially commend that from the elderberry as a light and sweet wine of decided value; while the raspberry is a mild tart wine equal to many of the Rhine wines so valuable in certain forms of dyspepsia. I would especially caution those attempting to make these domestic wines, that their product will be utterly spoiled either by adding water to the juice of the fruit, or by using yeast to hasten the fermentation. It is only necessary to employ a suitable amount of sugar to be converted into alcohol; and then strictly to observe the foregoing regulations as to the temperature employed, and the guidance of fermentation.
So-called wines are sometimes put upon the market, made from the leaves of garden rhubarb and from tomatoes. These are sour and vile liquors, irritating to the stomach, inflaming to the kidneys, and liable to produce chronic inflammation of the bladder, and even to lay the foundation for calculi.
The amount of alcohol contained in any specimen of wine depends upon the kind of grape used; and even this is farther modified by the soil on which the grape grew, the season, the manner of vintage, and the weather during vintage. The flavor will also be influenced very decidedly by climate, soil, and management. An approximation of the strength of absolute alcohol in some of the leading varieties is made as follows by Dr. Ure, in his Dictionary of Manufactures
|Port Wine, average||21.75||Raisin Wine||23.00|
Uses: Wine is used as a gentle stimulant, especially grateful; and is quite as beneficial on account of its saccharine or acidulous properties, as for its alcohol. Indeed, its alcohol is no advantage whatever to the patient. Sweet wines are not always acceptable to dyspeptics; but the tart wines, especially hock or our native catawba, are often much better received than others. Sherry is the standard officinal wine, being neither acid nor saccharine, (dry;) Madeira is the strongest of the scarcely acid class; port is the most heating and astringent of them all; claret and elderberry are among the least heating and most sustaining of the sweet wines, and are both a little laxative and diuretic. When used as a menstruum to form tinctures, wine should not be diluted, as the alcohol present would then be too limited to preserve the substances; and such light wines as elderberry and Malaga sometimes need to have a moderate portion of sugar added to their tinctures. The proportion of drugs to wine is usually one half more than that used in forming an ordinary infusion; and this menstruum is not powerful enough either to exhaust or preserve vegetable substances as diluted alcohol will in ordinary tinctures.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com