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 Filed as : Wine TipsViticulture

For The Grapes They Are a-Changin'

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  • Publish Date: Sep 3, 2009

We’ve all seen green tomatoes hanging from a plant. If it was throughout the course of a summer in your garden, you probably also saw its evolution from a hard little marble to a ripe piece of fruit.

During that process, you might have noticed that same tomato changing color on the windowsill or in your garden. In most cases, we take for granted how a fruit or vegetable gets to its edible form, or in the case of grapes, to their fermentable state. In grapes, this color-changing process is called véraison. (The literal definition of the word is the “changing of the color of the grapes.”)

Around the Northern Hemisphere, from Tuscany to Burgundy to Walla Walla, Washington, the grapes used to make wine are in various stages of véraison as we speak. For grapes, like tomatoes, the color change means the vine is no longer putting effort into growth, but instead doing its best to ripen the fruit. As grapes mature, they gain critical ingredients to make that bottle of vino you’ll be sipping a few years down the road: additional sugars (calibrated in “Brix,” that are converted into alcohol during the fermentation process), tannin from the fully developed seed and darkened skins, and more.

So, when you’re shopping at a farmer’s market, Whole Foods, or sipping a glass of wine this month, take a moment to appreciate the vines that are hard at work during this veritable season of véraison.

For more useful wine information visit the Winecyclopedia.

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