NOTES OF WINE SINCE THE 4TH MILLENNIUM B.C. AND THE EVIDENCE FROM ERIMI / PART 1 OF 3
The link between music and wine is reported by the Bible: “…Emerald seal set in gold is the melody of songs in the sweetness of wine“ (the Bible, Siracide, 32). Speaking of wine and its importance in the human history we approach a very broad topic, covering cultural, religious and economic factors that have left indelible footprints in the human history. Wine is something sacred, the only product approved to be a God, the blood of Christ. Its importance and absolute superiority on any other agricultural product is firmly established. It was first recognised by the Egyptians who understood the incredible power of wine to change colour, taste and smell, not only according to the use of different types of grapes, but also depending on a different exposure, soil composition, climate, altitude, time of harvest or harvesting during a different moon phase. The power of wine to change its organoleptic characteristics, that are first appreciated by the nose and then by the mouth, drove the Egyptians of the third millennium BC to distinguish the different types of wine, according to soil, grape, vintage, year and owner, through real etiquettes that were tied to the neck of vases, in order to indicate with precision the content.
There are not precise terms to deﬁne the characteristics of a wine, but these are made according to the olfactory and taste sensations described by the experts, which are reported as notes. The recognition of the wine body’s aromas is an art of connoisseurs who prior to wine drinking they taste and smell the liquid, in order to live all the emotions and sensations of pleasure that wine can transmit.
The categories of aromas we can find in wine are basically three: primary or varietal perfumes, secondary fragrances given by fermentation and tertiary perfumes or ageing factors. The primary, are the ones still present in the fresh fruits and in its skins in the form of terpenes (real particles of fragrant essential oils). In some wines their presence is so strong that they give the wine the denomination of aromatic wine: It is the case of Muscat grapes, Malvasia, Italian Brachetto, Gewurztraminer and Commandaria. These primary fruity perfume notes recall Strawberry, Rose, Moss, Orange flowers, and many others.
Primary perfumes are characteristics of partially aromatic wines such as Chardonnay, which has notes of pineapple and bananas, Merlot with the typical notes of grass and Sauvignon Blanc with its velvet note of tomato leaves. Secondary perfumes which result from a fermentation process are all those that develop due to the crushing of grapes during the completion of the fermentation processes. At this stage, the formation of chemical compounds derived from aldehyde, alcohols, acids and other factors, give the wine a fresh set of hints and determined tones that range from ﬂoral to fruity aromas and from herbs to balsamic. It is the case of young red wines that express their best with these secondary notes.
With ageing, either in steel or barrel, and the second ageing in bottles, we witness the emergence of ageing scents, also known as tertiary perfumes, due to additional processes that develop in the liquid, such as the formation of esters.
The primary perfumes and especially the secondary, though still partly present, tend to change in more complex and diverse notes: the ﬂower changes into bouquet of ﬂowers, while the fruits turn to stronger jam fruit notes adding new hidden aromas of pepper, spices, coﬀee, chocolate, tobacco and many others. The wine tells its history, it tells a story of the harmony of its notes in which the power of nature and human experience meet and join in an agreement that may propose inﬁnite, diﬀerent melodies.
Dr. Maria Rosaria Belgiorno
CNR – Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, Rome – Italy