Wine Production27 de March, 2023
Wine production is an ancient activity. Man discovered fermentation thousands of years ago, and the result of transforming the natural sugars in grapes into alcohol created a new feeling and experience in those who have drunk the juice of the Gods.
Wine production is at least 8,000 years old, but we can say that it was the Romans who refined wine making and transported it with them throughout Europe.
How is wine production done?
Wine production is made by fulfilling several stages. I consider the most important and challenging stage to be the one that is the beginning of everything, the cultivation of the vine. It is at this stage that the quality of the wine making process is determined.
The vine is a plant with an annual cycle, in which man prunes during his dormancy and grit during the rest of the year until the harvest. This step reflects their year-long commitment and effort to achieve the best possible quality in wine making.
Viticulture is the origin of any wine, for it is in the vineyard that everything begins, and it is in the vineyard that the grapes ripen until the producer or winemaker makes the decision to harvest for wine production.
What are the stages of wine production?
How to make wine? The stages of wine production are: ripening, harvesting, destemming, crushing, pressing, fermentation, aging, refining, filtering, and bottling, after which a new stage begins, which is aging in the bottle until it is sold.
The ripening of the grapes is the sole objective of a good winemaker. For wine production, we need grapes well-groomed, healthy and mature which is what every producer yearns for. And it is for these that he struggles every year with the conditions that nature gives him year after year and which, as we know, are never the same.
The ripening of the grapes is not only to achieve the sugars that will make possible a minimum alcohol content to have a wine. It serves for much more than that.
During the time on the vine, a series of compounds evolve and challenge us to achieve the balance between sugars and acidity, and equally important, to reach the ripening of phenolic compounds, which have as their greatest protagonists the well-known tannins, the compounds that give rise to aromas and flavors, as well as those responsible for the color, so important in the making of red wines.
The harvest is perhaps the most liberating and, at the same time, the most stressful operation for a winegrower. It is at this stage of winemaking that the work of a year culminates, and this is also the stage when you cannot risk ruining all that work.
Nowadays mechanical harvesting is the most common all over the world, where harvesting machines are used to do the harvesting work. There are still regions where mechanical harvesting is not possible, due to the conditions of the terrain, and is therefore done manually. There are also certain vineyards where, for oenological reasons, manual harvesting is used.
The debate between the quality of one form and another is still raging, but as labor becomes scarcer, the most commonly used form of harvesting is increasingly mechanical, reserving manual harvesting only for very specific wines that require greater precision in picking the grapes.
De-stemming and Crushing
The destemming and crushing of the grapes is the first operation when the grapes arrive at the winery. As soon as the grapes are received, the winemaker puts them to be destemmed and crushed, in order to separate the stalk of the grapes from their berries and, at the same time, usually in the same machine, crush the berries in order to burst them and force the juice contained inside them to come out more easily.
These operations, although they are often as I describe, are also liable to be reversed in their sequence. They may not even be done, or even only one of them may happen. This will depend on the wine production that the winemaker wants or intends as a result, i.e. it depends on how to make wine.
Pressing is one of the steps that is done either at the beginning of the wine production process, or after fermentation, depending on the type of wine we want to make. Pressing serves to extract the largest amount of liquid from the grapes, whether they are fresh or already fermented.
The way to make white wine or how to make rosé wine is usually called "open tipping".
It means that the moment the grapes enter the winery, they are crushed and then pressed, with minimal contact of the grape juice with their skins or peels.
The way to make red wine is usually called "tanning". That is, in the production of red wine, the grapes, after destemming and crushing, are taken to the fermentation tank where the tanning will be done, i.e., the maceration of the skins or skins of the grapes with their juice, which we call must. After fermentation, the fermented and macerated grapes go to pressing, from where the wine that is still retained in them is removed.
Fermentation is the transformation of the sugar in grapes into alcohol. In winemaking this is done by yeasts that can be indigenous, i.e. existing in the grapes, or selected yeasts, which are purchased to have greater control over fermentation and this decision depends on how to make wine. During fermentation, carbon dioxide is released and a number of chemical reactions take place.
The fermentation of white wines usually happens when we have only the grape juice or must, in red wines fermentation takes place while the juice or must is in contact with the grapes. Within each of these fermentation methods there are numerous variations that depend on how we want to make wine.
There is also the so-called malolactic fermentation, which is actually not even a fermentation, because the microorganisms responsible for this process are bacteria and not yeasts. The malolactic fermentation usually happens during the aging of wines and consists in transforming malic acid into lactic acid and is very important in wine production.
Aging or stage
Aging or maturation begins when fermentation ends. From here the winemaker makes decisions according to how he wants to age the wine produced. You may want a wine without any wood influence and only age in storage or age for long periods in wood, usually oak.
It is a very defining step in winemaking and in the style and type of wine that will come out in the end, and of course it depends a lot on the time and place where the wine is aged.
Tuning and filtering
The fining and filtration of wines takes place after aging. Refining is the stage in wine production where the winemaker prepares the wine for bottling and precedes filtration. It is usually in these steps that the wines are no longer vegan, since animal protein is usually used for fining, with the main purpose of "cleaning" the natural turbidity of the wines. After the refining, we have the filtration, which is responsible for brightening and microbiologically stabilizing the wine.
In the production of natural or minimal intervention wines these steps do not exist.
Bottling is the most traumatic stage for any wine. There is even the expression "bottle sickness", which is the phase right after bottling, in which the wine suffers from the bottling process and its quality decreases because of this stage. Bottling consists of putting the wine that has been aging into a tank and bottle. Because it is a process of separating a large volume into several small ones, it causes qualitative changes that, by end of 2-3 months, disappear, giving the wine all its characteristics back, and making it ready to drink or age.
Now that you know how to make wine, I'm sure you will continue to delight in the work of the vintners and winemakers behind this industry. The wine we have at home is the fruit of the hard work of everyone involved, and this is something that, even if unconsciously, is felt in every bottle we taste.
My life is the wine
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