Have you ever thought about how wines are made? Yes, we already know that wines are made from grapes, but what are the stages involved in the process? Now, let’s get into the process and make sure you read it right until the end.
Winemaking has been done for many centuries. Making wine is not only an art, but there is also a lot of science involved in the process. Even the smallest mistake during the process can have a crucial impact on the final product. Winemaking is done in five different stages. While these five stages are compulsory, winemakers add their variations to the process to enhance an exclusive touch to their wine.
The first step in winemaking is harvesting. You cannot make wine without harvesting the grapes. It is the grapes that contain all required tannins, esters, and acids that make delicious wine.
The flavor, sweetness, and acidity of the wine can be determined the moment the grapes are freshly picked from the vineyard. Along with the traditional method of tasting, when it comes to deciding when to the grapes, it also requires a bit of science. That is because it is paramount to make sure that the sweetness and acidity of the grapes are both in perfect balance. Not to mention, the weather also plays a significant role in the harvesting process.
Harvesting can be performed either by hand or with the use of machines. However, most of the winemakers prefer to do the traditional way rather than doing it with machines as they are known to affect the grapes and the vineyard negatively. Once grapes are picked, they are directed to the winery and are sorted in bunches.
Once the grapes are all sorted in bunches, the next step is to de-stem them and crush them. Back in the old days, they used feet to crush the grapes. However, many of the winemakers do not apply this traditional method anymore and do the crushing process mechanically instead. These machines have made the crushing process more sanitary and also helped in increasing the longevity and quality of the grapes.
There are many mechanical presses available that stomp or trod the grapes into a must. Must is the fresh grape juice, which is the result of crushing the grapes that contain solids, skins, as well as the seeds.
After the crushing and pressing, the next stage is the fermentation process. Must start fermenting within 6-12 hours as soon as wild yeast is added to it. However, many winemakers add cultured yeast instead to predict the final product as well as to ensure consistency. The process continues until the sugar is transformed into alcohol. Winemakers halt the process in between if sweet wine is to be made to prevent entire sugar from converting.
Fermentation is done, and it’s time for clarification, a process in which proteins, dead yeast, and tannins are removed from the wine. In this process, the wine is moved into oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. Filtration or fining process is used for this step. Substances are also used to result in the fining process.
For example, some winemakers add clay in their wine, so that the unwanted particles will stick to it. The clay will also take them to the bottom of the oak barrel. While in the filtration process, they used filters to catch the larger particles.
After the whole process of clarification, the wine will then be transferred into another tank and prepared for bottling and aging.
Bottling and Aging
Bottling and aging of the wine is the final stage of this process. After the clarification, the wine can be instantly bottled or aged for additional years. For the aging process, they used stainless steel tanks, oak barrels, or bottles to age the wine.
Many winemakers prefer using oak barrels when aging the wine as it is known to add a smoother, rounder, and more vanilla-like flavor to the wine. Moreover, the use of oak barrels tends to increase oxygen exposure, allowing the tannins to get reduced and letting the wine reach its optimal flavor. Once the aging process is finished, the wine is bottled with a cork or screw cap.