Simple Guide to the Wine Making Process
Ever wondered how wine is made?
Wine making is a complex and intricate process that involves several steps to transform grapes into your favourite wine.
Here is an easy to follow explanation that we have broken down into six simple steps.
Step 1: Harvesting
The wine making process starts with the harvesting of grapes. The timing of the harvest is crucial because the grapes need to be ripe but not overripe.
Overripe grapes can produce wine with too much sugar and too little acidity, resulting in a flat and unbalanced flavour profile. Once the grapes are harvested, they are transported to the winery.
Step 2: Crushing and Pressing
The next step in the wine making process is crushing and pressing the grapes. This step is crucial because it extracts the juice from the grapes, which is used to make wine.
In traditional wine making, grapes are crushed by foot or by a machine called a crusher. Today, most wineries use modern machinery to crush the grapes.
Once the grapes are crushed, the juice is extracted and sent to the press. The press separates the juice from the grape skins, seeds, and stems. The juice that is extracted at this stage is called must.
Step 3: Fermentation
Fermentation is the process where yeast converts the sugars in the must into alcohol. There are two types of fermentation: alcoholic and malolactic.
Alcoholic fermentation is the primary fermentation where yeast consumes the sugar in the must and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. The temperature and timing of fermentation are critical to producing high-quality wine. The winemaker must monitor the fermentation process closely to ensure that the yeast is working properly and that the wine does not develop any off-flavors.
Malolactic fermentation is the secondary fermentation where bacteria converts malic acid into lactic acid, resulting in a smoother and creamier flavour profile.
Step 4: Aging
Once fermentation is complete, the wine is aged in barrels or tanks. This step allows the wine to develop its flavour and aroma characteristics.
The type of barrel or tank used for aging can impact the flavour profile of the wine. For example, oak barrels can impart vanilla and spice notes to the wine, while stainless steel tanks preserve the fruit flavours.
The length of time that the wine is aged varies depending on the type of wine and the winemaker's preference.
Some wines are aged for just a few months, while others are aged for several years.
Step 5: Clarification and Stabilisation
After aging, the wine is clarified and stabilised.
Clarification removes any remaining solids in the wine, such as yeast or grape pulp. This process can be done by filtering the wine or by allowing it to settle naturally.
Stabilisation ensures that the wine is free from any harmful bacteria or microorganisms that could spoil the wine. This is done by adding sulphites to the wine. Sulphites also act as a preservative, extending the shelf life of the wine.
Step 6: Bottling
The final step in the wine making process is bottling. The wine is transferred from the aging vessel into bottles. The bottles are corked, labelled, and then shipped to stores, restaurants, and consumers.
In conclusion, the wine making process is a complex and time-consuming process that involves several steps. Each step of the process plays a critical role in the final flavour and aroma profile of the wine.
By understanding the wine making process, you can appreciate the hard work and craftsmanship that goes into producing a high-quality bottle of wine.