How Is Wine Made: The Process
Before you are able to get a glass of your favorite wine, it goes through a robust process – the vine-to-wine process. The process itself is a series of steps which are typically guided and managed by expert winemakers who have the intricate knowledge and understanding of the winemaking process. Herein we will explore these steps in an effort to give you an appreciation of the great effort that goes into making each of your favorite wine glasses.
#1. Taking Care Of The Grapes – In actual reality, the process of winemaking begins with taking care of the grapes. The quality of grapes is the greatest determinant of the quality of wine that a winemaker will end up with. Therefore, all through the year up until the harvesting period, vineyards pull all stop to take care of their grapes and makes sure they have the best quality of grapes during the harvesting period. In this regard, a lot of effort is diverted to all aspects of grape management, which includes pruning, soil acidity management, soil mineral management, and many more aspects.
#2. Harvesting – There are many ways to go about harvesting grapes. However, when it comes to the harvesting season, the months are generally the same – early September to early November in the Northern Hemisphere and mid-February to early March in the Southern Hemisphere. However, the particular dates and time of harvest (some winemakers elect to pick their grapes at night for more stable sugar levels) to start the actual harvesting is determine the actual winemaking is determined by the winemaker, depending sugar levels, the pH of the grapes, the acid levels, the berry taste, the weather forecast, and tannin development.
The process of picking the grapes can be manual-based, where the grapes are picked by hand or machine-based where a grape harvester is used. Each method has its pros and cons but the choice to use either method depends on the quality of wine a vineyard intends to produce. In almost all cases, hand harvesting of grapes is the preferred method of harvesting for premium wine.
#3. Destemming – Destemming is the process of separating the stem from the grapes. It can be undertaken right before crushing or after crushing, for intended to have a vegetal flavor. In some cases, especially in Germany, destemming is avoided by picking the grapes individually.
#4. Crushing – After destemming, the grapes are crushed. For white wines, a press used as it enables winemakers to separate the skin from the grape juice. Thereafter, the juice is allowed to settle and thereafter racked (filtered). The process is repeated until there are no sediments in the juice before the wine is sent to the vat for fermentation. As for red wine, the red grapes are crushed and then sent to the vet along with the skin. The skin gives the red wine its characteristic red hue.
#5. Fermentation – Yeast is added to the juice in the vat to initiate the fermentation process. During the fermentation process, the red wine is pump over or punched down to keep the skin in contact. After fermentation has taken place, the red wine is pressed and racked.
#6. Aging – The processes of wine aging are diverse. Winemakers can elect to use stainless steel vessels, oak barrels (new or used, American or French), or even toasted barrels. The choice of fermentation vessel is the winemakers prerogative depending on the technology available.
#7. Bottling – The final process is bottling, where the wine is bottle ready for commercial selling.
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