Known since ancient times, wine is an alcoholic beverage made of the fermented juices of fruit, typically grapes, which creates a flavorful drink. The primary division in wines is between red and white, with red wines being made from red grapes and white wines being made from "green" or "yellow" grapes (tangy grapes lacking dark pigmentation, not unripe grapes).
To make wine, the grapes are pressed to extract the juice, then the juice is exposed to a specific kind of yeast, which converts (ferments) the sugar into alcohol over a long period. Additional aging improves the flavour of the wine, and many wines, especially red wines, are aged for years before consumption.
There are many kinds of wine available, and many of the varieties of wine we know today are named after the regions in which they are grown. Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy are all wine regions of France, for example.
The Book of Keruynge, published in 1508, makes the following list of wine names: Reed wyne, whyte wyne, claret whyne, osey, capryke, campolet, renysshe wyne maluely, bastarde, tyerre romney, muscadell, clarrey, raspys, vernage, vernage wyne cut, pymente and Ipocras.
The "correct" consumption of wine with appropriate accompanying foods, especially meats, cheeses and fruits, is a delicate and elaborate art as esoteric and intricate as the most gothic heraldry. For those with little time or interest for such minutia, the following rules of thumb should suffice:
- Red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat
- White for fruit and red for cheese
- Chill the white and let the red breathe
- Never buy wine with a screw-top
In period, wine was a staple of noble life, and anyone who could afford it would drink it on a regular basis, often with every meal of the day. Wine was even consumed at breakfast, although much of the wine consumed in period (especially in the Mediterranean) would have been watered wine: wine mixed with plain water, usually to the formula of two-thirds wine, one-third water. Unwatered wine is typically about twelve-percent alcohol per volume.
Modern fortified wine is wine that has had a liquer added to it. It is typically quite sweet compared to ordinary wine. This can range from a delicate Canadian "ice-wine and brandy" dessert wine to a bottle of cheap plonk with a screw-top. Sweetened fortified wines, at eighteen- to twenty-percent alcohol, are typically intended for after-dinner sipping. Port and sherry were common in mid-to-late period.