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Secrets of the art of winemaking: Practical tips and expert advice

via Dawid Lipiec

In Poland, a wine-drinking culture has been developing in recent years, which has also resulted in a greater interest in this beverage and a desire to see and learn the secrets of its production. Most people associate wine with France, Argentina or Chile, but our country also has vineyards and produces beverages which do not differ in taste and quality from those known and appreciated around the world. 

Tips for wine beginners: how to get started with wine?

As a nation, we do not have a tradition of drinking wine, and so we have an unlearned taste, which of course means that most do not know what to look for and how a particular aroma or taste of wine. However, if someone would like to take up this profession, it is definitely worth exploring the subject and starting with training, because only training makes perfect. It's not about tasting, of course, but about the production process itself, from the soil and the type of vine to the maturation in bottles. The whole process is quite complicated and time-consuming, but it is well worth the effort to enjoy an excellent liquor prepared by yourself. It's best to go to a few wineries and watch the production, if, of course, the owner allows it. It is certainly a good idea to go to France or Italy, but you will also be able to pick up useful information in Polish vineyards. It is also useful to read, i.e. wine guides which contain many interesting facts and tricks. After a handful of news, you can take an interest in the area, find the best grape varieties, try, experiment, produce to get the best out of your grapes. 

Best grape varieties for home vineyards 

You can find different varieties of vines in garden shops, which are mostly suitable for growing in home gardens and the fruit is suitable for direct consumption, not for wine production. To home vineyard processing varieties that can withstand low temperatures and yield more are suitable. The first recommended variety is Leon Millot with purple fruit that can withstand temperatures even falling below 28 degrees. At the end of September, they can already be harvested and the wine created from this variety has noticeable notes of cherry, lilac and even tobacco. Muscat Bleu is a dessert variety resistant to various diseases and prolific from Switzerland, and a big plus for this variety is that it can be grown throughout Poland. The French Cascade variety ripens in October, is resistant to fungal diseases and has a delicately citrusy flavour that will appeal to virtually everyone. 

Fermentation and maceration techniques: key stages in winemaking

Selection an appropriate variety of grape has a key impact on the flavour and aroma, but maceration and fermentation are also important and you need to prepare properly for these stages. Maceration is used before the fermentation of red wines, and it involves washing out the tannins and anthocyanins that are found in the skins of the fruit. It is a very slow process lasting up to several tens of days. A longer process will make the wine more intense in colour and flavour. In order for wine to become potent, fermentation must take place, during which yeast converts sugar into alcohol. Red wines cannot be fermented at a temperature higher than 32 degrees, while for white wines the best conditions are between 16 and 20 degrees. In addition to alcoholic fermentation for red wines, one must not forget malolactic fermentation, which transforms the dominant sour taste into a milder aroma, and then it is the turn of clarification and filtration. 

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Long-term wine storage: secrets of maturation and noble notes

Freshly bottled wine is practically unfit for consumption, as it is cloudy, has a distinct bitter aftertaste and smells of yeast. Good wine has to mature and age in a barrel or vat, and such a process can take from a few months to as long as three years, although there are record-breakers who age for more than 10 years or more. After this time, the wine can be poured into bottles, which will still continue to work, as not all biological processes have been completed during ageing. Bottled wine becomes softer over time, the aroma richer and much more complex, and the colour of the wine is affected by oxidation. The best wine aromas will be achieved when the bottles are aged at 10 to 14 degrees in a shaded room with a humidity of 65 to 80%. 

Wine tasting like a pro: steps, aromas and serving rules

Before tasting the wines, no aromatic food or drink is allowed and smoking is also prohibited. Each wine is accompanied by different glasses, which must not be forgotten, so large glasses with a wide bowl are suitable for red wines and slimmer glasses for white wines. Each type of wine should be served at the right temperature for it and the tasting begins with an assessment of the appearance, taking into account clarity and checking that there is no cork residue or sediment in the glass. The aroma is also assessed and should be inviting and impressive even before the glass is moved. The aroma is greatest when the wine is moved, but also when it is well aerated and floral, herbal or spicy aromas can be discerned. And finally, the taste, which can be sensed after taking the first small sip. 

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