Making wine has come a long way throughout the millennium. It is just marvelous to look at its development throughout the years, evolving from an art to science. Winemaking can be done with little human intervention, but as to make it more perfect and refined, winemakers guide the process by using different techniques. There are five most fundamental processes that winemakers use to make wine, and this includes harvesting, crushing and pressing, fermentation, clarification, and bottling and aging. These are the fundamental processes of making wine. There are some deviations and other techniques winemakers use to make their wines much more unique and memorable than the rest in the market.
Of course, without harvesting the grapes, there wouldn’t be a wine to make in the first place. As the only fruit to have the necessary chemical compounds to make wine, grapes have the required chemicals like acid, tannins, and ester for the wine to be consistently natural and stable. To make the wines dry tannins are essential, as it is also responsible for making the wine have the usual bitter taste and astringency.
The moment the grapes are harvested is pure science in itself. It determines the sweetness, acidity, and flavor of the wine. Knowing when to harvest requires scientific knowledge in the field and some good old tasting. The freshness and sharpness of the wine should be determined when collecting, but also looking out for the weather is required upon harvest.
There are two methods in harvesting the grapes; it is either by hand or machine. Many winemakers choose to collect by hand since mechanical harvesting can be troublesome for the vineyards and to the vines themselves as well. Once the grapes are delivered in the winery, the grapes are categorized into groups. And of course, those grapes that are rotten and under-ripe are thrown away from the ripe ones.
Crushing and Pressing
Once the grapes are sorted, they will be removed from their stems and be crushed afterward. In the old days, winemakers do this process by stomping the grapes as hard as they could. Today, winemakers do this process mechanically. The machines winemaker use trod or stomped the grapes to make it what we call a must. A must is the grape juice after the machine processes them, it is what remains of the newly pressed grapes, and they include the seeds, skin, and the solids. With the use of tools, it is now more sanitary and improves the wine’s quality and longevity.
White wine also does this process, but after pressing and having the must, they sort out all the seeds, skins and solids to avoid having unwanted tannins and color leaking into the finished product. On the other hand, red wines leave all the skins, seeds, and solids still intact with the must for additional color and tannin to the wine.
Fermentation comes after crushing and pressing. The juice or must starts fermenting in a matter of 6-12 hours with the help of wild yeast that is found in the air. Winemakers intervene with this process by the use of commercially cultures yeast to have more consistency and to fit the fermentation process in their timetable. After all of the sugar becomes alcohol, dry wines naturally produce, and there, the fermentation process ends. When deciding for a sweet wine, winemakers stop the fermentation process before all of the sugar is converted. The fermentation process usually lasts up to 10 days or a month.
When the fermentation process ends, it is time now for the clarification process. This process removes all of the dead yeast cells, proteins, and tannins in the substance, and this process is done by either fining of filtration. After that, the wine is put in a container such as a stainless steel tank or an oak barrel container. Fining is a method where winemaker puts clay in the wine, in which the unwanted particles adhere to, sinking them to the bottom for easy removal.
Aging and Bottling
This is the final process before the wine will be put in the market. In this stage, the winemaker decides if he/she will put the wine in the bottle right away or age it up a little more. If he/she wants more time for aging, she can age it using the bottle, oak barrels, or stainless steel tanks.
There are a lot of processes to make a grape into your most favorite wine. The fundamentals of winemaking are necessary for a wine to indeed be elegant and refines. Using additional deviations from the normal processes and other techniques, the wine would be unique, distinguishable, and memorable to the enthusiast and veteran alike or even to casual drinkers. Every wine winemakers produce incredible and magnificent.