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Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Yeast consumes the sugars in the grapes and converts them into alcohol. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different types of wine.
Wines made from other fruits are usually named after the fruit from which they are produced (for example, apple wine or elderberry wine) and are generically called fruit wine. The term "wine" can also refer to the higher alcohol content of starch-fermented or fortified beverages such as barley wine, sake, and ginger wine.
Wine has a rich history dating back thousands of years, with the earliest known production occurring around 8,000 years ago on the territory of modern-day Georgia. It first appeared in the Balkans about 4500 BC and was very common in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. Wine has also played an important role in religion throughout history. The Greek god Dionysus and the Roman equivalent Bacchus represented wine, and the drink is also used in Christian Eucharist ceremonies and the Jewish Kiddush.
Etymology The English word "wine" comes from the Proto-Germanic "*winam," an early borrowing from the Latin vinum, "wine" or "(grape) vine", itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem *win-o- (cf. Hittite: wiyana, Lycian: Oino, Ancient Greek—oinos, Aeolic Greek—woinos). The earliest attested terms referring to wine are the Mycenaean Greek me-tu-wo ne-wo meaning "the month of new wine" or "festival of the new wine" and wo-no-wa-ti-si meaning "wine garden", written in Linear B inscriptions. Although no clear evidence has been found of any linguistic connection, some scholars have noted the similarities between the words for wine in the Kartvelian (e.g. Georgian), Indo-European languages (e.g. Russian[vino]), and Semitic (*wayn), hinting to the possibility that this word diffused into all these language families from a common origin. Some Georgian scholars have speculated that Georgian was the origin of this word and that it entered into the Indo-European languages via Semitic. Wines from other fruits, such as apples and berries, are usually named after the fruit from which they are produced combined with the word "wine"; (for example, apple wine or elderberry wine) and are generically called fruit wine or country wine (not to be confused with the French term vin de pays). Others, such as barley wine and rice wine (i.e., sake), are made from starch-based materials and resemble beer more than wine, while ginger wine is fortified with brandy. In these latter cases, the term "wine" refers to the similarity in alcohol content rather than to the production process. The commercial use of the English word "wine" (and its equivalent in other languages) is protected by law in many jurisdictions.
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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wine", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.