Alcoholic Beverage Q&A
@They differ in terms of the shape and composition of the grapes. Wine grapes have smaller berries, and a relatively high ratio of skin and seeds to flesh. The seeds of grape contain a lot of tannin, and the skin of grape contained pigments, tannin, and flavor substances. These components significantly influence the character of produced wine. Grapes for wine need an adequate level of acid as well as sugar. Acid is important for giving body to wine.
<See page 2, Wine, in 'The Alcoholic Drink Story', Volume 3. In Japanese only. English version is preparing.>
@Chemical reactions such as oxidation change the quality of wine during the course of production and storage. Therefore, an antioxidants is used to prevent oxidation during processing and storage. Sulfur dioxide, used as an antioxidant, prevents the deterioration of flavor caused by oxidation, and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.
@Lactic-acid bacteria break down malic acid in wine to lactic acid and carbon dioxide. This fermentation is referred to Malo-Lactic Fermentation (MLF). When MLF occurs, the level of acidity decreases, and the wine tastes mellower. Moreover, MLF gives wine complex flavors. Usually, red wines are fermented completely, so that the grapes' sugar content is consumed. When acidity in red wine is too high, it taste too harsh. Thus, MLF is induced to adjust the taste of red wine.
@Both malt whiskey and barley shochu are made from barley. However, they taste different, due to the differences in production methods. To convert starch to sugars, enzymes contained in malts are used for whiskey making, and enzymes produced by koji are used for shochu making. That is, making malt whiskey is a two-step process; first the 'wort' is made by the saccharification of malt, and then the wort is fermented by yeast. Making Shochu is a one-step process; saccharification and fermentation take place simultaneously. In addition, malt whisky is distilled 2 to 3 times, but shochu is usually distilled only once. After distillation, malt whiskey is kept in wooden casks for several years. On the other hand, barley shochu is generally stored in enamel tanks. Due to the difference of vessel used for storage, whiskey develops an amber color, but barley shochu stays clear.
@Brandy is made by distillation of wine. The colors and sugar in the wine do not go into the distilled liquor, and clear liquid with high alcohol content is obtained. A characteristic flavor and color of brandy are developed during storage and aging in wooden barrels. Clear brandy, or white brandy, is produced when the distilled brandy is stored in a tank, not in a wooden cask.