The great challenge of producing wine for the first time
Before the wine in the Dão region
Wine in the Dão region
Dão's wine varieties
The wine at Dão's wine in the manor houses of the region

The great challenge of producing wine for the first time

When you ask a 21st century person what three necessary and adequate conditions are required to produce wine, the person will surely find this question easy and immediately state the first one of all: grapes! It’s true that one can make wine with other fruits but with grapes one can produce the best and most well-known of all wines. The remaining two conditions make you think harder and after a careful reflection you may be able to identify the second: a container!
Container for wine found in Hajji Firuz, Iran. C. 5000 B.C.
It’s only when one goes back to the time of the hunter-gatherers that the need for a container with some mechanical resistance became obvious, which only emerged with the invention of pottery - the first of all industries. The third condition is even more difficult to perceive and is rarely identified. However, it is very easy to understand when we recall that Nature also "produces" wine but it inevitably results in vinegar. In fact, the ripe grapes fall to the ground when affected by a heavy rain and one can quickly sense the smell of wine, the result of spontaneous fermentation that occurs in the berries.
Historical Map of the Origin of Wine
Nevertheless the process doesn’t end there because soon the berries begin to smell like vinegar, which results from the transition of the alcohol to acetic acid. It was only then that the third condition came to light: human intelligence! Certainly it took numerous attempts and errors before the ancient man understood how to avoid the transition of wine into vinegar. This only happened when he realized that it was necessary to protect the wine from the air or when he did it with partially dehydrated grapes in the sun (raisins) to make it very sweet. It is clear then, that wine production is only possible when these three conditions occur simultaneously. According to current knowledge this is believed to have happened about 8,000 years ago in the Caucasus, in the region that is today Georgia and Armenia, beginning the fascinating adventure of the most revered and magical of all beverages.
Winery discovered in Armenia in 2011
The understanding of the wine process production only began to be unveiled in the second half of the 19th century, when microorganisms – yeasts – were discovered, transforming the sugar from the grape into alcohol. Later it was discovered that wine transforms itself into vinegar because of the acetic bacteria in the presence of air and that this bacteria ceased its activity when the wine had above 14 percent of alcohol by volume. It was later discovered that, in the absence of air, some lactic acid bacteria transformed the malic acid of the grapes into lactic acid, producing carbon dioxide, which makes the majority of red wines softer and better preserved.
Bacteria from malolactic transformation retained on a membrane filter
At the end of the 20th century, it was discovered that some yeasts were responsible for giving bad aromas and flavours to wines, particularly red wines. The research continues throughout the 21st century trying to discover all microorganisms that interfere with the wine quality. This fascinating beverage still has many secrets to unveil!
Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast through scanning electron microscopy


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