Wine is typically made of fermented grape juice. Grapes have a natural chemical balance and so can ferment without the addition of acids, sugars, enzymes or any other nutrients. Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast consumes all the natural sugars found in grapes and converts them into alcohol.
Wines are usually named after the fruit that they were produced from, for example, elderberry wine or apple wine, and are generically known as fruit wine or country wine, (not to be confused with the French term vin de pays).
Others, such as barley wine or rice wine are made from starch-based materials and are more like a beer or spirit rather than a wine, while ginger wine is fortified using brandy. In these cases the term “wine” is a reference to the higher alcohol content rather than the fermenting process. The commercial use of the word wine (and its equilvalent in other countries) is protected by law in many jurisdictions.
Wine has a rich history dating back to around 6000 BC and is thought to have originated in areas now within the borders of Georgia and Iran. Wine first appeared in Europe at about 4500 BC in the Balkans, and was very common in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. Wine has also played an important role in religion throughout history. The Greek god Dionysus and the Roman equivalent Bacchus represented wine, and the drink is also used in Catholic Eucharist ceremonies and the Jewish Kiddush.