If you ask a winemaker, the winemaking process is certainly a lot more complicated than what we have mentioned here. However, these are the basic steps necessary to make wine. Remember: the more you understand about the winemaking process, the more you understand wine itself. Enjoy!
Making Red Wine
The grapes are picked. (Usually, by hand.)
The grapes are crushed. (Stems are sometimes removed; sometimes left in for more flavor.)
The crushed grape skins, the seeds, the stems, and the juice are all put into a large tank.
Yeasts are added. (Or not, if the winemaker wants to use ambient yeasts.)
Fermentation occurs. (Yeasts convert the sugars of the juice into alcohol.)
The skins, seeds, etc (where all the flavor is) float to the top and make a “hat”. Because this is where all the flavor is, everything needs to be agitated in order to expose the juice to more of the flavorful parts floating on top. Usually the juice, which is at the bottom of the tank, is pumped over the “hat”; sometimes, another method called “punching down” occurs, where a tool is used to push the seeds/skins/etc down into the wine.
Fermentation finishes, wine is removed from the skins.
Wine is put into barrels. Sediment (little particles of skin, seeds, etc) settle at the bottom.
Wine is racked to separate the wine from the sediment.
Wine is (sometimes) clarified.
Wine is bottled.
We drink it! (Or cellar it, then drink it.)
Making white wine
As you will see, the process for making white wine is basically the same, but with some minor differences:
- Skins are removed from the grapes after crushing.
- After fermentation, the wine sometimes sits with the dead yeasts (called the lees).
- The wine is clarified/filtered.
- Wine might be cold stabilized.
- Wine might be put into barrels to age (not as common with white wines).