How is a wine made?
Wine is a combination of several natural factors that, controlled by a winemaker, can make us enjoy it in so many ways. In our desire to obtain greater knowledge as wine enthusiasts and lovers, in order to advance with the objective of becoming wine experts, we developed this article to help you with it.
The basis of winemaking has remained practically unchanged since their beginning more than 6,000 years ago. The processes and techniques are the same for the three main types of wines; red, white and rosé wine. What differ sometimes are aspects such as fermentation time and temperature. In addition to the usage of the type of grape and its components.
First steps for making a wine
The harvesting process is done manually. The grapes are cut using special scissors, making sure of only cutting the bunch, so the plant is not damaged. For red wines, the whole red grape is used: the must, the skin, the pulp and sometimes even the seeds. The quality of a red wine will be determined by the quality of the red grape it’s made of.
For this reason, the climate, the soil qualities and even the way the vines are pruned over the years are important, since all these actions influence the quality of the grape.
From here on, the variables for making wine are endless. You can control almost everything and have different results. All of these will determine if we’re getting a good harvest that will turn in a really good quality wine or not.
As a general idea of how wine is made, to keep it simple it goes something like this: the grape juice or must is put under specific conditions, when the temperature reaches certain value, the yeast used is activated, making it to devour the sugar in the liquid, to end up creating the alcohol and C02.
Let's start with the grapes
The first and most important point in winemaking are grapes, because without good quality grapes it’s hard, if not almost impossible, to make a respectable wine.
The important thing is the health of the grapes, we must make sure that they have no diseases, as well as being aware of their degree of maturation, since that will make the wines to not be astringent.
When we talk about grape ripening, what we are looking for is the balance between sugars and acidity, since wine is an acidic drink. Having the appropriate levels of acidity will make us have a pleasant wine in our mouths, with a very long life, since it’s often said that acidity is the life of the wine.
Once the grapes have been collected at their perfect point of ripening, it is important to transport them to the winery. The transport must be careful when carrying grapes, since it’s easy to damage them, causing them to release their liquids and begin an uncontrolled fermentation process which could cause unexpected aromas or flavors on the wines made.
Be careful when transporting the grapes
It isn’t recommended to transport very large quantities, since the grapes are prone to be damaged due to crushing. The site where the grapes are stored while carrying, must be at a low temperature to keep the fruits from starting fermentation.
Arrival of the grapes to the winery
When the grapes arrive at the winery, different processes can take place depending on the type of wine we want to make, white, red or rosé.
Process with a white wine
As a general rule, white wine is pressed and fermented without the presence of the grape must, the grapes are introduced into a press where they are squeezed to remove the liquid and then they’re passed to a tank where the fermentation process is started.
In white wines, the most common thing after pressing the grapes, is to leave the must to decant for a few hours in the tank, so the impurities in the must are separated by gravity, thus creating a pure and top class wine.
Once the liquid (now clean) has been poured in another container, its transferred to a different tank where is left for a fermentation process but with controlled temperatures, normally from 68ºF to 75ºF maximum.
Process with a rosé wine
For making a rosé wine, the most common thing is to squeeze the grapes and transfer the liquid and the must to the tank, so that they can be macerated together.
In the case of rosés, the liquid and the skins are left together for a few hours, in that way, the skins add the color and different substances to the liquid.
When the winemaker concludes that the contribution of color and substances is enough, the liquid is removed from the tank and transferred to another container where the clean liquid is fermented, just like it’s done for white wines.
Process with a red wine
When making red wines, what is done is that the squeezed grapes with their skins are introduced into the tank, with the objective of trying to ensure that the skins provide the greatest number of ingredients to the wine.
Thus, depending on the time that skins have made contact with the must, wines may be created to preserve for a short time, or to be kept in the barrel for years before enjoying it.
The more contact and maceration, the more power and therefore more structure that will allow it to withstand the passage of time.
The fermentation temperatures of red grapes are higher than in whites and rosés to be able to extract more substance from the skins, and fermentation can reach 86ºF without problems. We must also mix liquid and skins so that the contribution of substances is maximum.
So, do I already know how to make wines?
Well, so far we could say that we have already “made” wine, however from here on there are a large number of processes that may lead to creating spectacular wines.
These require a separate article for each one of them, so we will continue writing to know the whole process, meanwhile, drink wine, enjoy life and remember that a great stock of wines is available at the online wine store “finding.wine”; where you will find a wide variety of wines for all tastes, adapted to your budget, with guaranteed shipments in the optimal time. We say goodbye for now, and happy toast!
- Fabianni Posteraro