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Winemaking Process: How Grapes Are Converted Into Fine-Tasting Wine
Dark-colored (black) grapes are used to create red wine, which can have range in color from intense violent (young wine) to brick red (mature wine) to brown (older wine). The color is all dependent on what level of wine it falls into.
The majority of black grapes will produce a greenish-white color. The grape skin brings about the red color due to its anthocyan pigmentations. There are exceptions, however. For example, the uncommon teinturier variations can generate a red-colored juice. A good chunk of the production technique for red wine entails extrapolating the grape skin’s flavor and color.
How Are Grapes Changed Into Wine Once They Get To The Winery
When grapes arrive to the winery, they’re often an assortment of individual berries, bunches, leaves and stems. When stems are present in the fermentation process, it can cause the wine to taste bitter. De-stemming ensures the grapes are separated from the leaves and stems.
After the grapes have been de-stemmed, they are typically crushed lightly. This usually involves a pair of rollers with a space between them so the winemaker can choose between no crushing, light crushing and hard crushing.
The combination of the grapes, juice, skins and seeds is referred as a must, which is then pumped into a concrete or stainless steel vessel or an oak vat s that it gets fermented.
Once the must is placed into the vessel, the yeast found on grape skins or in the environment will begin the alcoholic fermentation process. The must sugars are changed into alcohol with the by-products being:
- Carbon dioxide
Some winemakers would rather control this process by including certain types of yeasts from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species.
Not long after the must is put into the vessel, the division of both the liquid and solid phases begins. The grape skins will create a cap after floating to the top. To get the most flavor and color extraction, it’s vitally important to boost the contact that occurs between the liquid phase and the skins. This can be attained by doing four things:
- Punching the cap down
- Immersing the cap
- Pushing over
- Drain and return
The fermentation process generates heat, and when it’s not controlled, the fermenting temperature can exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat can hinder the flavor and destroy the yeast. Therefore, refrigeration systems help with temperature control. Now, winemakers have their own opinion on what the best temperature is in regards to fermentation:
- Fruiter red wines are often developed from temperatures that range from 77 to 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Tannic wines that are more for the long-aging process is often better in high temperatures of 82.4 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
A Second Fermentation Process To Help In The Wine Process
After the alcoholic fermentation takes place for the red wines, a second microbiological change happens – it’s known as malolactic fermentation. This is when malic acid, naturally found in grape juice, is changed into lactic acid due to the bacteria influence. The process is typically done for red wines, taking place naturally due to the existence of lactic acid bacteria wineries often have.
Once this process is done, the red wine is typically removed from the remaining parts and the preservative sulphur dioxide is added to keep bacterial spoilage and oxidation from happening.
The majority of red wine will be aged before it’s bottled – taking place from as little as several days to more than 18 months. The aging process can occur in small or big oak barrels, concrete tanks or stainless steel tanks. Bear in mind that the oak barrels will impact the wine flavor.