A Guide to Winemaking
Although the basic winemaking process is the same for most wines there are variations in it depending on the type of wine that is being made. Let’s firstly take a look at the basic steps of winemaking in general:
1. The first thing you need for standard wine production is the grape! So, the first stage of the winemaking process is to crush your grapes to release the juices and to allow them to ferment. The crushing can still be done by foot although many larger wine producers will now use machinery that will crush the grapes and remove the stems at the same time. In some cases the grapes will also be pressed to make sure that all of the juice is extracted. This fermentation process can take a couple of weeks - here yeast will start to change the grape juice sugar into alcohol.
2. Once this first fermentation process is done most wines will undergo another fermentation (usually after a filtration process) - usually in casks or other containers. This process allows the sugars that are left to change into alcohol more slowly and the wine will also change from cloudy to clear.
3. In some cases the wine will now be bottled and ready for drinking (early aged wines are often known as ‘green’ wines) and in others it will be left to age in barrels to help the flavour develop over a period of months. Some winemakers will mix wines at this stage to make a specific ‘taste’ or to improve on deficiencies in the taste of a wine.
Although this winemaking process applies in general terms for most wines there are variations during the process to make specific types of wine. For example:
- Red wines are made from red/black grapes and their skins.
- White wines are made from white grapes or from red grapes (although here the skins are removed early to avoid colouration).
- Rose wines are made from red grapes and are given just enough contact with the grape skins for the wine to turn a rose colour.
- Sparking wines such as champagnes are made by giving the wine another fermentation process when the wine is bottled. This extra process traps carbon dioxide in the wine which gives it the fizz!