Making good wine is no easy task. Next time you drink a glass of wine, to truly appreciate it, you need to know how it went from grape to glass. A guide to how wine is made will break down this process so you can understand how this delightful drink came to fruition.
Harvesting the Grapes
Once a vineyard’s grapes ripen, it’s time for harvesting. Harvesting the grapes requires using either your hands (with the help of shears) or a machine to remove them from the vines. Whichever way the vineyard chooses to harvest the grapes, they then move them into bins and prepare them for the crushing process. Vineyards tend to prefer harvesting at night because its more efficient and maintains the sugar levels they desire.
Crushing the Grapes
Next, it’s time to crush and de-stem all those flavorful grapes. Vintners used to crush grapes using their feet, and you may see some vineyards continuing that tradition, but nowadays it’s typically done by mechanical means. After going through a de-stemmer, which, as the name suggests, removes the stems from the grapes, they are sent through a crusher to become juice. When red wine is being made, the juice, skin, flesh, and seeds from the grape are put into a fermentation tank.
However, when it comes to white wine, the juice and flesh go into a vat. After the mixture settles, allowing solids to fall to the bottom, the winemaker filters out the solids. This process has a fitting moniker: “pressing.”
The Fermentation Process
Once the crushing process is complete, the wine is put into a vat for fermentation. These vats can be made of different materials, but stainless steel is usually seen as one of the best options. There are many attributes of stainless steel equipment, from durability to corrosion resistance, but what makes it so great for fermentation and aging is that it doesn’t alter the taste of the ingredients.
During fermentation, the winemaker mixes yeast into the vat in order to convert the sugar into alcohol, which is obviously a pretty important factor when making wine. This process can take several weeks, but if a manufacturer wants a sweeter wine, they’ll stop the fermentation process halfway through to keep some of the sugar intact. Once red wine finishes fermenting, it will go through the same pressing process that white wine grapes do.
Aging and Bottling the Wine
After going through a “clarification” process, which requires the removal of dead yeast, tannins, and other materials from the wine, it’s time for the aging process. The longer the wine ages, the stronger its flavor will become. The wine will sit in containers made of oak or stainless steel until the winemaker is ready to bottle it. Once it’s bottled, it’s finally ready for you to enjoy.
By illustrating the process of going from grape to glass, a guide to how wine is made can be very eye-opening. Of course, there are some scientific details that are necessary to understand if you’re thinking about getting into the businesses. However, this guide should be enough to introduce you to the thorough process of making wine so you can imagine each and every step next time you have yourself glass or two.