The Art Of Making Wine

0
0
0
0
0
0
or copy the link

f2-largeThe art of making wine in it’s simplest terms begins with fruit such as grapes and berries being pressed or crushed (wine grapes are also known as berries in the industry) to extract the juice and then fermenting the extracted juice.  The process of fermentation, which is in itself a whole other discussion, causes yeast, either naturally occurring or added, to react to the sugar in the juice which, in turn, produces alcohol. The wine will begin to display a different color, taste, and aroma depending on the type of grape or fruit that it was made from. After fermentation, the wine is pressed then aged from days to years in casks, barrels or tanks, and then finally bottled.  Pretty simple, you think but in reality it’s a tad more complicated and involves considerably more steps and tweaks along the way.

Wine is divided into three main categories – fortified, sparkling, and table. Wine is known as fortified when a bit of brandy is added to it to increase the alcohol content. Wine is deemed to be sparkling when it has the right level of C02 or carbonation. Table wine, the third and most popular category, is wine in it’s natural form without the addition of enhancements, although a certain amount of chemical additives are permitted by law.  More on that practice later.

Wine grapes, of course, are the preferred ingredient for making wine. They often contain an equal amount of acid and sugar, which is seldom found in any other type of fruit. This balance of acid and sugar is what makes for a smooth and pleasant drinking wine. To use grapes for wine though, you need to know the right time to pick the grapes. Picked too early and the wine will be generally thin and austere with flavors of green vegetables.  Picked too late and the resulting wine will be somewhat flabby and taste of prunes and raisins.  It’s important to pick the grapes at their optimal peak of ripeness with a harmonious balance of sugar, acid and flavor.

The first stage of the wine making process begins with careful sorting and destemming of the grapes.  Any foreign material must be removed that may impact the finished product such as leaves, stems, unripened berries, damaged or moldy berries, and , yes, sometimes bugs and small animals!  Once the sorting is finished, the grapes are then pressed or crushed.  Pressing or crushing causes the skins to split to release the juice.  Once the crush is completed the process of fermentation can begin.  Fermentation can take several days or even weeks depending on the type of wine, the sugar content, yeast and the ambient temperature.  The chemical reaction of fermentation generates a certain amount of heat and once the temperature rises to certain degree, the resulting heat kills the yeast and fermentation stops.  Commercial winemakers often manipulate the temperature by cooling the fermenting juice to prolong fermentation to increase the flavor and color and the ultimate alcohol content.  Too much alcohol and the wine will have a burning sensation in the mouth; too little and the resulting wine will have less flavor and will taste flat.

Next, is the pressing process where the wine is pressed from the grape skins, seeds and spent yeast. Most of this material will float to the top of the wine and is pressed forcing the wine out the bottom of the press leaving the skin material behind.  At this stage, the wine is either filtered or not depending on the preference of the winemaker.  An unfiltered wine can leave a considerable amount of residue in the bottle, whereas a filtered wine will have very little.  Most commercially massed produced wines are filtered to enhance the visual appeal of the wine once bottled.  Many consumers tend to be put off by a wine that has sediment in the bottle even though it has little to no effect on the taste.  Almost any wine will develop a certain amount of sediment over time, even filtered wines, because the wine will continue to evolve.  After the wine has been pressed it is ready for the next stage, Malolactic Fermentation and ageing.  This stage mostly applies to red wines and some chardonnays.  Again, depending on the type of wine being made, the ageing process can be a matter of several weeks to a couple of years or more.  Ageing can be done in concrete tanks or stainless steel tanks as is the case with most white wines and some reds or in oak barrels as is the case with most red wines and some whites.  The length of time the wine is aged depends on, again, the type and the complexity – read quality of the wine.  White wines typically are aged less that twelve months and sometimes much less.  Red wines are aged from a couple of months to years.  Both white and red wine aged in oak barrels will take on certain pleasant characteristics imparted by the oak, however, the reason not all wine is aged in oak is because with more delicate wines and lesser quality wines, the oak can tend to overpower the natural flavor of the wine.

Once ageing is over, the wine is ready to be racked and bottled.  The wine is racked from the storage vessel or barrel and then directly into bottles.  Racking refers to the process of siphoning off the wine from the storage vessel being careful to leave any sediment that may have settled out during the ageing stage.  Colored bottles are preferred, as they will help reduce the risk of exposure to light that can lead to oxidation and premature ageing.  A great debate has been going on in the industry as to whether bottles should be sealed with a cork or a screw top.  The consensus seems to be the personal preference of the winemaker and the winery.  Corks are traditional and have a certain mystique that says quality.  Screw tops seem to convey lesser quality in the minds of some consumers.  From a practical point of view, screw tops make a better seal and avoid one of the major faults in wine, that of cork taint or being “corked”.  Seldom, however, will you find a high quality wine expensive without a traditional cork seal.  Finally, the bottles are labeled according to their winery, varietal and brand making it easy for you to select the wine of your choice.

 

0
0
0
0
0
0
or copy the link

Categorized: Basics