The Process of Making Wine
by Charlotte Rivington
It is nice to enjoy wine from time to time, whether as part of a meal or a social evening with friends. Knowing more about the wine making process not only ensures that you are aware of what you are drinking, but makes having a tipple extra special.
I Heard It on the Grapevine
Wine making involves cultivating what the earth has provided for us, which is probably why it holds its roots in prehistoric times. Deviations in the wine-making process result in the special blend that is your favourite.
White wine must be pressed quickly in order to divide the juice from the skins. Completing this means that the wine does indeed stay white and does not pick up any other colours from the skin along the way. Red wine is a veritable Technicolor dreamcoat in comparison as it is allowed to stay in contact with its skin for a longer period of time, picking up different hues.
Step by Step, Glass by Glass
If you are going to try your hand at making wine, it is important you know how to go about it. Even the experience of shopping for wine can be enhanced by knowing how it made the journey from vine to glass.
Here is a whistle-stop tour of the wine-making process:
1. Harvesting: You may be surprised to learn that grapes have sugar in them. A surprising amount in fact, enough to yield some alcohol and preserve it for us. It is imperative to pick the grapes at the right time, when they are juicy and ripe. Getting the timing wrong could be potentially disastrous. We’ve all heard of sour grapes, so make sure yours aren’t. Harvesting can be done with your own fair hands, or mechanically. Before making any wine, it is an absolute must to have clean, sanitary equipment to avoid harbouring any bacteria.
2. Crushing and Pressing: Once the bad grapes and the stems are removed, it is time to get crushing. So get your feet out and have a good stomping session. Alternatively, get a machine to do the hard graft for you.
3. Fermentation: Scientifically, fermentation is when yeast is added to a solution containing glucose (and as we know, wine contains a lot of sugar) in order for the yeast cells to convert the simple sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide. This is how winemakers create the perfect drink. Sometimes yeast is added but wild yeasts can also enable the perfect fermentation process. The combined weight of the grapes causes them to burst, releasing a tidal wave of flavours for you to enjoy later.
4. After fermentation, wine is moved to barrels or tanks, depending on your preference, in the hope of leaving pomace (unwanted extra bits and pieces left over from the fermenting process) behind. Storing the wine can help it to mature, with barrel size, material and age all having an influence on the flavour of the resultant liquid. Now, the wine is ready for bottling.
Cheers, I’ll Drink to That
We each have our favourite type of drink when we are shopping for wine. This can be influenced by storage methods, for example, stainless steel tanks result in a fruity flavour whilst woody tastes are gained from using oak. Taste is also dependent on the type of grapes used, with riper grapes making for a slightly more alcoholic drink.
So now you know a bit more about wine, sit back, relax and take pleasure in sipping a glass of delectable red or white.