Fortified Grapes

Almost any grape can be used to make fortified wine, which merely requires the addition of spirits to fortify the alcohol. However, some grapes are used almost exclusively for fortified wines.

Red Grapes

Red, or more properly black, grapes, are so named because of the pigment in their skin. The flesh of the grapes produces white juice, and the juice only becomes red when left to macerate on the skins, allowing the pigmentation to leach out. A very few red grapes, known as teinturiers, have red-coloured flesh. And these can yield dark red-coloured juice, but these are rare and usually not vitis vinifera. In addition to colour, the skins of red grapes are generally high in tannins, a compound that helps to preserve wine.

Sparkling Grapes

Depending on what type of sparkling wine is being produced, the key feature for the grapes is to be either neutral (for Champagne, for example) or flavourful (for Lambrusco o, for example), but they are usually high in acid to ensure that the sparkling wine is refreshing. Sparkling wine grapes can be either white or red. Red grapes are often pressed for sparkling wine without contact with their skins, which yields a wine juice.

White Grapes

White grapes are actually green in colour, and are mutations of red grapes in which anthocyanins are no longer produced. They are usually crushed and pressed right away, without contact with the skins in order to maintain freshness. However, there has been a resurgence in the ancient technique of macerating white juice on the skins of white grapes, a process that extracts some tannins and usually leads to a darker yellow, even orange, hue.


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