Even for those of us who have been indulging in alcoholic beverages for years, sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between wine and liquor. If you’re among those who can get a little confused or would simply like to learn more, look no further!
Wine is the fermented juice made from fruit, usually grapes although there are some wines that are made from other fruit, such as peaches or blackberries. When a fruit other than grapes is used for a wine, the name of the fruit is included in the name, i.e. “blackberry wine”. If the name doesn’t include a fruit, then it can be assumed that the wine was made from grapes.
Wine has been a part of Western culture since ancient times; the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all kept record of, and traded in, grapes and wine. Prior to the 19th century, most wines were either drunk within the year they were made, or had honey added to them to hide the taste of it spoiling. Post-19th century, there’s much more focus on aging wine properly without it spoiling. The term “vintage” refers to the year a wine began aging and how long it has aged, with older wines of a higher vintage usually being of more value and held in higher esteem.
There are two main types of wine: red and white. Red wine is made from grapes with reddish-purple skins and white wine is made from “white” grapes with light green skins. In each of the two categories there are many variations, which can include differences in taste, color, and even scent. Most wines are still, meaning that they are not bubbly. Those that are, however, are called sparkling wines and include dessert wines and champagne.
Liquor, also called distilled liquor or distilled spirits, can sometimes refer to wine or beer, but in most cases the term is meant to refer to alcoholic beverages other than wine and beer. Distillation is the process of vaporization followed by condensation, and is used for the purification of liquids. Unlike wine, liquors have only been around for about 2,000 years. Most types of liquor were originally intended to be some form of medicine. Gin, for example, was created in the 14th century solely as a way to fight off the Bubonic plague.
There are several types of liquor, which differ in their ingredients and resulting taste and concentration of alcohol. There’s whiskey (also spelt whisky), rum, vodka, brandy, gin, and liqueurs.
Whisk(e)y is distilled from fermented grains, such as barley, corn, or rye. Rum is distilled from fermented molasses or sugarcane. Vodka is distilled from the fermented juice of potatoes. Brandy is distilled from fermented fruit juices; whereas wine is simply the fermented juice from grapes/fruit, brandy is distilled from the fermented juices. Wine is sometimes filtered before being bottled and sold, but filtering is not the same as distillation. Gin is a mixture of water, alcohol, and flavoring. Gin is the only liquor that isn’t distilled from fermented ingredients and, therefore, it doesn’t age. Liqueurs are made either by adding to a brandy or a simple mixture of alcohol and water. The addition that makes a liqueur includes a combination of sugar, fruits, herbs, and/or flowers. Liqueurs are much higher in alcohol content and are usually drunk in small quantities after dinner or a similar, larger meal.
What is the difference between wine and liquor? Let’s have a look at the comparison chart below.
|Made solely from the fermented juices of fruit, usually grapes but not always.
|With the exception of gin, liquors are distilled from the fermented juices of grains, sugarcane, molasses, potatoes, or fruit. Distillation is the process of vaporization followed by condensation, and is used for the purification of liquids. Brandy is, like wine, made from fruit juices. However, brandy is distilled from the fermented juices before being bottled and drunk, and wine is the direct product of fermented juices.
|All wine can continue fermenting and aging, increasing the value of its vintage and the complexities of its taste.
|Not all liquors age. For example, whisk(e)y, rum, and brandy can all age, but gin does not. However, most liquors bought in stores contain some form of preservatives to maintain the brewer’s intended taste and alcohol content. To change the complexities of a liquor’s taste, brewers use multiple processes of distillation.
|Wine can come in bubbly varieties, such as sparkling wines or champagne.
|Liquors never come in bubbly or sparkling varieties.