Wine is an alcoholic beverage, typically made of fermented grape juice. The natural chemical balance of grapes is such that they can ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast consumes the sugars found in the grapes and converts them into alcohol. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are used depending on the type of wine being produced.
Although other fruits such as apples and berries can also be fermented, the resultant wines are normally named after the fruit from which they are produced (for example, apple wine or elderberry 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 and rice wine (i.e., sake), are made from starch-based materials and resemble beer and spirit more than wine, while ginger wine is fortified with brandy. In these cases, the use of the term “wine” is a reference to the higher alcohol content, rather than production process. The commercial use of the English word “wine” (and its equivalent in other languages) 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 probably appeared in Europe at about 4500 BC in what is now Bulgaria, and Greece, 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.
The word “wine” comes from the Proto-Germanic “*winam,” an early borrowing from the Latin vinum, “wine” or “(grape) vine,” itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem *win-o- (cf. Hittite: wiyana, Lycian: Oino, Ancient Greek οῖνος – oînos, Aeolic Greek ϝοίνος – woinos).
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