Winemaking: How wine is made – I
For the next few months, we’ll have a winemaking lesson in each course. Here, we’ll discuss the winemaking process. With each lesson, we’ll add more steps so you have an idea of what it takes to make an awesome wine.
We’ll only be explaining the red wine portion of the infographic - you’ll have to wait for the next month’s wine academy for the white wine explanation! Click the image to enlarge.
Step 1: Grow Grapes
This is a pretty self-explanatory step, but as mentioned in the infographic above, you can make white wine from both red and white grapes! The juice of all grapes is a translucent clear to grayish color.
But, how do you want to grow your grapes?
- Normal: use chemicals when necessary to fix problems with the wine (mold, rot, etc.)
- Organic: no pesticide use, even if the grapes have maladies. Less sulfites added to the finished product.
- Biodynamic: think of this as organic plus. We’ll talk more about this in a coming lesson.
Step 2: Harvest – by hand or by machine?
- whole bunches are cut off the vine and put directly into the fermentation tank
- more expensive
- labor intensive
- quality higher – picker can distinguish between ripe and rotten bunches and be more gentle
- machine shakes individual grapes off the bunches
- less expensive
- can run all day/night and pick many more grapes
- machine cannot distinguish between ripe/rotten grapes and can damage the skins
Step 3: Maceration
This step makes the wine red, since grape juice is basically colorless. Think of the grape skins, pulp, seeds, and stems like a tea bag…the longer you leave the tea bag in, the darker the tea becomes. The same applies for maceration. The longer you let these components sit with the grape juice (aka must) the more color and complexity is imbued into the wine. In this step, the wine gains more flavor, color, and tannin from the skins and stems.
Step 4: Alcoholic Fermentation
This step is where we turn grape juice into wine!
We hope you remember the wine formula. We’ve repeated it many times, but in case you’ve had a little too much wine….
Sugar (from grape juice) + yeast = wine + CO2
So the more sugar, the more the yeast can eat and the more potential alcohol in the wine
1. For grapes that are crushed and/or de-stemmed - the yeast eat the sugar from the grape juice and covert it into alcohol.
2. But its a bit different for Whole Grape Fermentation. Here, the grape bunches are put directly in the vessel where the alcoholic fermentation happens. The grapes keep their stems and do not get crushed. Instead, the weight from the grapes crush the grapes on the bottom and the juice leaks out. The fermentation starts to happen in the must AND inside the grapes!
The fermentation for red wine generally finishes when there is no more sugar for the yeast to eat – thus creating a dry wine!
Congratulations, you now have a baby wine! Find out more on our next installation on winemaking!