Brewing has been around for many thousands of years, with the earliest archaeological evidence showing that alcoholic drinks were made in ancient Egypt. The process involves the fermentation of the sugars contained in vegetable products. Although the basic idea in all alcohol making is similar, the processing of beers and wines is very different, resulting in distinct drinks.
The most obvious differences between beer and wine are the ingredients used. Both contain water and yeast, but that is where the similarity ends. Beer contains malted barley and hops, although wheat can be used instead of barley. Wine is made from pressed grapes. The greatest difference in the taste of wine comes from the variety of grapes being used. Other ingredients such as seeds and roots can also be added to the brewing mixture to impart unique flavors.
As both drinks require different ingredients, the processing of them is different as well. For beer, the barley is harvested and then soaked to release the sugars. The hops and yeast are then added. In wine brewing, the grapes have to be pressed or trodden. Traditionally a large group of people would stand in a wine vat and stomp on the grapes with their bare feet; now, the process is done by machine. To make white wine, the skins of the grapes are removed, but for red wine they are left on. After the processing of the ingredients, the mixture is left to cook for several hours.
Another key difference in the brewing of beer and wine us the length of time between creation and consumption. The fermentation process, during which the alcohol is allowed to develop through the yeast's release of carbon dioxide and ethanol, varies depending on the climate conditions and ingredients used. After this, the liquid is bottled or put in casks. Beer then needs to be left for around two weeks to mature and allow sediment to settle in the bottom. Wine should be left for at least six months to mature; some wines are left to mature for several years.
Today the majority of casked beer is kept in metal kegs, which are more sanitary and can be reused. Alternatively it is stored in glass bottles. Wine is still normally casked before bottling, so the liquid takes on the flavor of the wood. Oak is commonly used in some wine casks.
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