Water and wine
A wine called Airen
Wine is composed of 80-90% of water. When watching a wine glass, think that that is the final result of rains or irrigation (mainly in arid areas). In short, wine it’s primarily made of water, linked by the roots up to the leaves. These, mixed with sun and nutrients from the ground, are the simple factors that determine the final quality of a grape.
How much water vine plants need to produce fruits?
The water needed by the plants depends on the temperature since a warmer climate leads to faster evaporation of water. Therefore, the plants will need more water to compensate. For good photosynthesis to work, a 500mm minimum rain per year is required. In the warmer environment, this would be up to 750mm per year. Artificial irrigation in Europe is regulated by the law, while everywhere else is broadly used.
What happened in case of extreme lack of water?
In case of excessive lack of water, the wine plant will suffer what it’s called water stress. This status of the plant can quickly stop the ripening process while the plant enters in a sort of surviving mode. Later, this process can lead to unbalanced wines. Sometimes this can also be a controlled process, especially with red grape, to reach a better quality through a considerable amount of phenols in the fruits.
What is Airen?
Airen is a white grape variety from the Spain region La Mancha, highly resistant to drought. Cultivated in poor, sandy and clayey- calcareous soils, by 2010 statistics, Airen was the third most cultivated grape variety globally, with more than 252000 hectares in Spain alone. Mainly used for spirit, Airen’s large-scale production can be traced after WWII when Franco, the Spanish dictator, signed a mutual agreement with France.
Under this agreement, Spain exported brandy to France and Airen was the grape used to fulfill this contract. The low quality of Airen it’s primarily due to its cultivation methods, more than its grape variety. Nowadays, an increasing number of wineries have decided to cultivate with lower yields using modern wine-making techniques; this leads to more fruity and better quality wines.
Which kind of wine is Airen?
Airen is a dry wine with pale shades and straw light yellow hues. The aroma displays light intensity scents of banana, pineapple and grapefruits, soft citrus notes on the palate and low acidity. It can be described then as a pleasant wine with great drinkability. It’s recommended to drink it young and at a cold temperature.
Historical curiosities about wine
For centuries, humanity added water to wine. In fact, for ancient Romans and Greeks, it was considered a sign of barbarism to drink wine without anything else. Wine was also considered the safest drink at least up to the XVII century, especially in the big cities, due to the low hygiene conditions. In Italy, until ’60, it was easier and cheaper to buy a bottle of wine instead of a water bottle.
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This article is part of Vinoè project and has been written by the wine expert Davide Masili together with the storyteller Daniele Frau. Follow Vinoè on Instagram and Facebook!