Vitis vinifera

By: Yan J.
Vitis vinifera is a species of vitis and is a renowned European wine-grape family (Cellarer, 2009). They are angiosperms that produce one of the most preferred fruits in civilization, grapes (Marshall, 1979).
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Figure 1. Vitis vinifera (Ecotech Technologies, 2010)
Appearance:

Vitis vinifera are woody climbing vines that stems up to 35 meters long (Duke, 2009), and climb in tendrils (ABC1, 2010). The bark of the stems can be easily peeled into strips (ABC1, 2010). They have large alternate leaves that are sometimes toothed and lobed (ABC, 2010). Clusters of fragrant small green flowers could be present during the springtime (ABC1, 2010).Their fruit are known as grapes, which are edible berries that are usually produced in bunches and differ in colours of red, white and black (ABC1, 2010). The general appearance of Vistis vinifera is shown in Figure 1.

Environmental Conditions and Location of plant growth:
The Vitis species requires a warm and sunny climate to grow in (ABC1, 2010). Despite being a tropical-zone plant, semitropical environments can also ensure the growth of Vitis vinifera (wine, 2010). Adaption to cooler climates is difficult for this plant because any winter temperature below -7 °C [20 °F] would lead to the death of fruitful buds and vines (wine, 2010). They are usually rooted in deep, well-drained and moderately fertile soil that is often chalky and alkaline (ABC1, 2020). Aid of wires and fences can assure better growth of grapes (ABC1, 2010). Vitis vinifera can be found in every continent on earth except Antarctica (Gashkova, 2009). Their cultivation began in 4000 BCE (wine, 2010) and originated in Eastern Mediterranean, Levant, central Europe and Southwestern Asia (Gashkova, 2009). Later cultivation began in Georgia (Gashkova, 2009). In the world, the southernmost vineyards of Vitis vinifera locate in the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s island, near 45th parallel south (Courtney, 2005) and the northernmost vineyards are found in Flen and Sweden around 59th parallel north (Courtney, 2005).

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Figure 2. Plantation of Vitis vinifera in Europe (Beckwith, 2010).
















Wine:

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Figure 3. Fruits of Vitis vinifera (Nutrition Researchers, 2008).
Wine, one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world, is created from the fermented juice of grapes, which are the fruits of Vitis vinifera (wine., 2010). Famous for its rich taste and authentic history, fruits of Vistis vinifera (shown in Figure.3) are commonly used around the globe for the production of wine. Grape species that do not grow in warmer climates, such as hybrids and Vitis labrusca can also produce grapes that are suitable for wine-making (wine, 2010)(Cellarer, 2009). Wine can be classified according to colour: red, white, and rosé (pink) (wine, 2010). Distinction between red and white wines is shown in Figure 4.



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Figure 4. Red wine (left) and white wine (right) (Hutchinson, 2009).


Vinification (Process of winemaking):

The earliest production of wine, made with fermented grape juice dates back in 6000 BC when the first jars of wine are produced and stored in the Neolithic village in Iran’s northern Zagros Mountains (Berkowit, n.d.) In Europe, vinification originated in Greece in 4500 BCE (Viegas, 2007). The general process of winemaking involves steps of fruit selection, fermentation, aging and bottling. The details of vinification are shown in the flow chart below.



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Beneficial impacts of wine:
Wine can be directly consumed as a beverage, but can also be used in cooking as a marinade ingredient, a cooking liquid or a flavor enhancer for finished dishes (wine, n.d.). The use of wine is permitted to anyone past the legal drinking age (currently 19 in Ontario) (Abuse, 2008). It is broadly popular in every continent (see Figure 10. for annual consumption of wine according to countries). Other than recreational drinking, people also use wine for religious purposes, most commonly in religious ceremonies (ewineplanet, n.d.).
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Having a moderate intake of wine regularly can greatly benefit the health of people. Studies have showed that wine’s rich source of antioxidant flavonoid phenolics can increase HDL cholesterol and prevent formation of LDL cholesterol (Tsang, 2005).Consequently, blood clotting and plagues that build up in arteries are prevented, thus reducing rates of heart-attack (Tsang, 2005). Harvard researchers found that an increase in wine intake can also greatly reduce risks of having kidney stones in women (Liquor, n.d.). More information on the health benefits that comes from drinking wine for women can be viewed in Video 1. It is important not to overly consume wine. The most ideal intake would be one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men (Tsang, 2005).




Video 1. The health benefits of wine for women (wlwttv, 2007).

Wine also benefits the society in terms of contributing to the improvement of conscience and morals of people through religious belief. Wine symbolized Greek God Dionysus and in Christianity, it is significant for its use in a sacred rite called Eucharist (ewineplanet, n.d.). As well, in Jewish laws and traditions, the Kiddush, a blessing made on any Jewish holidays must be done over wine (ewineplanet, n.d.). Despite the strict restriction imposed by the Islamic Law on most alcohol, wine has been a main theme of poetry for more than a thousand years and is still widely popular in Greater Persia (Harrison, 2008).

Also, the production of wine assisted the progress of economy by gaining profit for many countries through wine export (FAOSTAT, 2010), as shown in Chart 1 and 2. In turn, the trade of wine profited the exporting countries with significant increase in value of market share.
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Wine can replace many other alcoholic beverages, such as pre-mixed drinks. They contain higher alcoholic contents, which in turn can be very harmful to people's health (Crawford, 2008). In comparison, wine has lower alcoholic contents, which means that they can be consumed regularly in appropriate amounts by people and would only benefit their health rather than damaging it.


Harmful Impacts of wine:
Excessive consumption of wine can lead to serious health damages. Studies show that frequent alcohol overindulging can cause weight gain due to increase in triglycerides as well as increasing cancer risks (Tsang, 2005). It is unsuitable for woman to consume wine during pregnancy, for the exposure of alcohol to the fetus could leave long-term harmful effects on the child and lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (Gerber, 2010). Long-term alcohol abuse can result in liver disease (Gerber, 2010).

Due to the depressant found in alcohol, overly indulging in wine can potentially lead to depression (Russell, 2007). Some long-term affects caused by binge drinking could be dementia, a condition where one suffers from memory loss; and psychosis, a condition with syndromes of hallucinating sounds and voices (Psychiatrist, 2010). These abnormal psychological affects could negatively impact the society with higher suicide rates. Over consumption of wine or other alcoholic beverages raise the crime rates in society. For example, every year, drinking and driving accounts for 25% of fatal road accidents in Ontario and 75% of the drivers who are convicted under Criminal Code are charged with drinking and driving (Transportation, 2010). Therefore, it is evident that boundless drinking of wine can greatly impact the society in harmful ways.

Grape juice can be a good replacement of wine for people who like the health benefits that come from grapes. Grape juice is a blending of grape contents with the skin and seeds (Elise, 2007), meaning that it will contain the same beneficial chemicals in wine which reduce chances of heart attack by 30 to 50 percent (Tsang, 2005). It is also a very good alternative to be considered because it does not contain alcohol that can endanger health when overly consumed.

Conclusion:
Vitis vinifera is a European wine-grape family that is found in almost every continent of the globe and is cherished for its ability to produce rich tasting wine through the process of winemaking. They are woody climbing vines that produces fruit in bunches, known as the grapes which are seen in assorted colours. They generally grow in tropical or semitropical climates. Vinification has a long history, originated in Iran, where the first jars of aged wines were discovered. The process of vinification can be outlined in steps of fruits selection, fermentation, aging and bottling. Wine is broadly popular across the globe and can be consumed as a beverage, used for cooking, religious ceremonies and for many other purposes. It can be beneficial to the health of human if consumed moderately. Also, society and economy can be benefitted by wine through religious uses and beliefs, as well as greatly affecting the progress of economy by inciting global trades. However, wine can also endanger the health of people if it is overly consumed. Diseases and psychological problems would emerge from binge-drinking. Society could be negatively impacted from rising suicide rates and crime rates related to or triggered by irresponsible drinking. A good replacement of wine would be grape juice, an alternative drink that will bring the same health benefits to humans, without risks of receiving consequences from drinking alcohol. Despite all negative effects of wine, it has acted a significant part in people’s lifestyle, culture and religion. With the cleverness and efforts from generations of people, this product that represents history and knowledge was created from one single gift from nature, Vitis vinifera.



Reference List:
* Web pages:
1. ABC1, . (2010). Plant Profile: Vitis. Gardening Australia. Retrieved December 4, 2010, from http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s1866560.htm
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*Online Encyclopedia:
1. wine. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 05, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/645269/wine

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1. Marshall, C. (1979). Encyclopedia of plants and animals. United States, New York: Marshall Cavendish Books Ltd.
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*Picture References:
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2. Beckwith, E.L. (2010, March 16). In the cultivation of the vine, and in the production and manufacture of wines, france has long stood pre-eminent . Retrieved from http://jamestorr.com/giorgio/?p=197
3. Ecotech Technologies, . (2010). Herbal Extract of Vitis vinifera. Ecoplanet-natural care. Retrieved December 5, 2010, from http://www.eco-planet.com/herbalextracts/Vitis%20vinifera.htm
4. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (2009, March 10). Red Wine Vs. White? Both Equal Offenders In Breast-cancer Risk. Retrieved December 05, 2010, from
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* Videos:
  1. wlwttv, . (Producer). (2007). 5 things: the health benefits of wine. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpZafJFzqbE&feature=fvsr