Wine is an alcoholic
beverage made from the fermentation of 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 which consume the
sugars found in the grapes and convert them into alcohol. Various
varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are used depending on the
types of wine 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 du pays). Others, such as barley wine and rice wine
(e.g. 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 Israel, 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 Christian and Jewish
ceremonies such as the Eucharist and Kiddush.
The word "wine" derives 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. Ancient Greek οῖνος -
oînos, Aeolic Greek ϝοίνος - woinos).Similar words for wine or grapes
are found in the Semitic languages (cf. Arabic ﻭﻳﻦ wayn) and in Georgian
(ğvino); some consider the term to be a wanderwort, or "wandering word".