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Wine is simply the juice or must of the grape after it has undergone the process of fermentation.(1) This may be considered as the most natural and exact definition that can be given of it. It is the definition accepted by the law.

On account of the prevalence of sophistications and the considerable amount of wine that is now made from dried grapes and other saccharine fruits, a more particularized definition of wine is now given ; it may be formulated as follows:

By wine is understood that liquid which is obtained by the alcoholic fermentation of the juice or must of fresh grapes. This must may be fermented in contact or not with the pomace or solid portion of the grapes, without, however, the addition of any extraneous substance or even of substances chemically the same as those that the grapes themselves contain. The addition of the latter is considered by many as an adulteration, because it changes the quantitative composition of the must, and consequently of the wine.

Who first made wine is not known. The history of its manufacture, like that of many other fermented beverages, extends back into the mists of ages; nothing, therefore, is known about its first use. Tradition and .mythology give several accounts of its first appearance, but they are of a very contradictory nature.

Of one thing we may be sure, and that is that from the first, man has asked himself the question: Is wine a real benefit ? A question that has not yet, perhaps, been answered to the satisfaction of some. Even at the present day it is not possible to give a satisfactory, definite reply to this demand, unless we look at it from an economical standpoint, in which case there can be no doubt of its utility, as it is one of the principal sources of national wealth in every country where the grape can be grown.

We must therefore consider it from this point of view, otherwise its real utility to man might be contested.

It is said that wine incites man to anger, licentiousness, murder, and in general subjects him to a thousand depraving temptations.

" II vino e il veleno piu teribile per la societa. Ne i fulmine di Giove, ne la spada di Marte, rib i bad di Venere hanno fatto tante vittime quanta Bacco coi calici spumante." — Bizzozero.

Alcohol, the moment it enters the cells and nervous filaments, revives their functions and excites and stimulates their action; this state of exaltation passed, however, if more alcohol is imbibed by the cells and nerves a period of exhaustion supervenes. The presence of this foreign body in the organism, tainting the blood and diffusing its vapors through the substance of the brain, interferes with the chemical processes of the body, augments the resistance to the nervous movements, and engenders that particular kind of poisoning known under the name of intoxication.

It was owing to wine that Ham was cursed and became the servant of his brothers' servants. It was owing to wine that the ancient Persians, Lacedemonians, Romans — active, vigorous, and glorious by a thousand splendid victories, as long as they possessed the virtue of sobriety — declined and fell when —

Delia stoica incude
Spessa nel vin tempravasi
La rigida virtude.

But that was the abuse not the use of wine.

Every one should know that wine, drunk in moderation or with temperance, favors and augments the secretion of the gastric juices and so aids digestion; it excites the imagination, awakens the memory, dispels care, restores the physical force, and renders the movements of the body active and vigorous.

A proof of this, if one is needed, is furnished by the fact cited by all writers on hygiene, that if in the war of 1870-71 the German army was able to sustain the fatigues of the campaign and sieges, always remaining in good health, it was because they were invading and conquering a wine-producing country.

Bacchus is the "Dio Salvatore." Plutarch, in the life of Caesar mentions that the whole army of the General was once afflicted with a disease which Caesar cured by allowing all the soldiers to get solemnly drunk. From that day they all commenced to recover.

Certainly among the curative resources at the disposal of hygiene and medicine there is none more frequently used than wine. We always, as it were by instinct, say to a convalescent: "You should drink wine."

Hippocrates says: " Wine is a liquid marvelously adapted to man, well or ill, providing he take it at the proper time and in quantities suitable to his constitution."

Liebig, too, is of the same opinion, for he writes: "Wine is unsurpassed by any product, natural or artificial, as a restorer of the vital forces when they are exhausted; it animates and revives the saddened spirits, it serves as a corrective and antidote in all irregularities of the animal economy, which it preserves from the passing ills to which inorganic nature subjects it."

Wine considered from an alimentary point of view has its chief importance in the union of alcohol with an acid liquid; the acid moderates the too energetic action of the alcohol, especially its action on the nervous system.

The tannin and coloring matter, when present in due proportion, exercise a very favorable influence on the stomach by animating the energies of the digestive functions.

The aroma, the bouquet, the " seve" of a wine are also useful, as many facts tend to prove, among others, the fact that well-flavored substances in general have a favorable influence on nutrition.

Wine has a density nearly equal to that of water, and is absorbed into our system with much less rapidity than spirits; this fact is of great importance to the animal economy, because the effects of wine are thus felt for a longer time and without the danger accompanying the rapid effects of brandy.

Wine is absorbed by our digestive organs without any change but that of being mixed with the gastric juice. There is no need of the intervention of the digestive ferments to facilitate the absorption of the wine in its last office of nutrition. This explains its utility in certain diseases.

The complexity of the organic matters that enter into the composition of wine, which up to a certain point resembles that of the human body, explains its restorative action in the case of individuals weakened by anaemia or insufficient nourishment, etc.

Wine, then, is produced and drunk, and of all fermented beverages it is the most healthful, and the one that most harmonizes with our organism. If nature had gifted man, as it has all other animals, with a surer instinct in the choice of the food that was best suited to his constitution, certainly without any hesitation among the first substances he would have selected wine; however, having a less reliable instinct than he might have, he has allowed himself to be greatly influenced by tradition and imitation in the choice of his beverages.

(1)Although as Gautier writes, "Wine is a very complex body, and so delicate that the work of chemists, so far, has been but an outline of what there is to do in the study of it," I think it will be useful, because it will give a more complete idea of the subject of our remarks, to give a list of the principal components of grapes, or must, and of wine:


Stems: Lignose — Tannin — Albuminoids — Organic salts and acids — Mineral salts and acids— Chlorophyll — Gummy matters — Phosphates — Potash, lime, magnesia, silica.
Skins: Cellulose —OEnocyanin — OEnorubin — Tannin — Cream of Tartar — Catechin — Quercite (?) — Waxy matters, ferment germs — Etherous and aromatic principles — Nitrogenous substances — Phosphates — Potash, lime, magnesia, iron, silica.
Pulp: Cellular parenchyma — Nitrogenous substances — Cream of tartar — Gum, pectin, dextrin (?) — Gases, nitrogen, carbonic acid — Divers salts.
Seeds: Lignose — Fatty matters — Nitrogenous substances — Gum — Starch — Phosphates — Divers salts— Tannin


Water — Glucose — Levulose — Divers nitrogenous substances — Saccharose, dulcite — Cream of tartar — Tartrate of calcium — Tartaric, malic, and racemic acids — Halogen acids (traces) — Ammoniacal salts and organic derivatives — Phosphates, sulphates, nitrates— Potash, lime, magnesia.


Carbonic anhydride— Nitrogen — Hydrogen sulphide.


Water — Alcohols: ethylic, propylic, butylic (amylic?), caproic, oenanthilic, caprylic, pelargonic, capric.
Higher alcohols — Glycerine — Isobutyl — Mannite — Glucose — Levulose — Inosin — Gum —
Pectic matters — Essential oils — Furfurol — Aldehyde — Acetal.
Ethers: acetic, propionic, butyric, valerianic, caproic, lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic.
Acids: carbonic, acetic, propionic, butyric, caproic, oenanthylic, caprylic, capric, lauric, myristic, tartaric, racemic, succinic, malic, tannic, sulphuric, nitric, phosphoric, silicic, chlorhydric, nuorhydric. These acids are either free or combined with the bases: potash, soda, lime, magnesia, alumina, iron oxide, manganese, ammonia, volatile bases of the pyridic series.
Alubminoids—coloring matters

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