30 June, 2010
Wine Word Wednesday: Veraison.
Not too long ago I posted pictures of champagne grapes int her early flowering stage from Champagne Tarlant. It's only fitting that we talk about grapes at another stage of development. This stage pictured here is called veraison. This is the stage that signals the beginning of ripening, "when the grapes change from the hard green state to their softened and colored form" (to quote the Oxford Companion to Wine.) The grapes are moving from green to red-black if they are red grapes and to yellow-green if they are white grapes.
This all happens fairly quickly and not evenly as you can see from the photo above. During this stage, sugar is increasing and acid is dropping. And that balance of sugar to acid is critical if a wine is going to be bright and zippy rather than dull and flabby. It is critical for the vigneron to pick all grapes at the right moment. Unfortunately for him or her, this can happen at different times in the same vineyard depending on the microclimates of the site. That's why they harvest the same vineyard several times and why it's important to pick the grapes in a fairly narrow range of time.
Makes me appreciate why good wine cost so much. It's not all just marketing.