Some people are so serious about wine that the pleasure’s gone. Others say things about wine which aren’t true. Here are the basics on wine simply explained.
1. Making wine
The making of wine is not easy to explain. In France they say there are as many wines as vineyards.
Each winemaker gives his personal touch before, during and after the vinification process.
Each of the below aspects has its influence on the taste and quality of the wine :
* The selection of the land plot
* The climate (and the date of harvest)
* The selection of the grape variety
* The type of fermentation tanks or casks
* The temperature during fermentation
* The duration of fermentation
* The type of casks in which the wine ripens
Nobody can pretend there is only one single way of making wine. This fact contributes to the charm of wine and is also the cause of the enormous diversity in wines. Winemaking demands “savoir-faire” and experience.
A winemaker is not only a craftsman, but also an artist.
The following aspects give an idea of what winemaking involves :
1. Planting (or grafting) the grapevine
2. Developing the racemes
3. Harvesting the grapes
4. Destemming* and crushing the grapes in a stainless steel container
5. Alcoholic fermentation of the must
6. “Maceration” : building of taste and colour*
8. “Malolactic” fermentation
* : mainly for red wine
Must : this is the juice obtained by crushing the grapes
Alcoholic fermentation : the juice becomes wine by the natural influence of yeasts which transforms sugar into alcohol
Maceration : the solids, the “pomace”, like skin, stems and seeds, give their taste and colour to the must
Raking : the “pomace” and the must are separated. The must becomes “vin de goutte”, the “pomace” becomes “vin de presse”
“Malolactic” fermentation : by the working of natural bacteria, the sharp “malic” acids are transformed in flexible and stable lactic acids
Ripening : the wine is filtered and transferred to casks in order to stabilize and come to perfection.
Crushing and destemming
The grapes arriving in the cellar are crushed and destemmed. The fruits free their juice and pulp.
The must obtained that way is put in a tank to go through the process of fermentation.
The fermentation tanks are generally oak barrels or stainless steel tanks, sometimes concrete or enamelled steel.
Fermentation is a natural process. Yeasts present in grapes (however the addition of selected yeasts is generalizing) change the sugar contained in the must in alcohol and carbonic gas.
The winemaker assists the action of the yeasts by maintaining the temperature around 25 to 30°C and ventilating the must regularly. Under 25°C the wine will not have enough body, above 30°C, the wine will be to tannic.
The fermentation process goes on for 4 to 10 days.
This is the period during which the tannic elements and the colour of the skin diffuse in the fermented juice. The contact between the liquid (must) and the solid elements (skin, pips and sometimes stems) will give body and colour to the wine.
At this stage, complex operations will prove the talent of the winemaker (dissolution, extraction, excretion, diffusion, decoction, infusion).
For “vins primeurs” or “vins nouveaux” (new wines) the maceration is very short, the wines are supple and contain little tannin. Wines destined to be kept long need a lot of tannin, so the maceration can be long. It goes on for several days, maybe several weeks.
The wine is separated from the solids, the pomace. The wine obtained by raking is called “free run wine” (vin de goutte).
The pomace is pressed in order to extract the juice it still contains. This wine is called “press wine” (vin de presse). It is richer in tannin.
Depending on the winemaker target or the local habit, free run wine and press wine are blended or treated separately.
It is the process during which the malic acid of wine changes into lactic acid and carbonic gas under the action of bacteria naturally present in the wine. Malic acid is harsh, it is changed into supple and stable lactic acid.
This fermentation is obtained in a tank during a few weeks at a temperature between 18° and 20°C.
The vinification is finished but the wine is not. To be able to age and to improve the wine must be clarified again. After that the beverage will be put in oak casks where it will stabilize.
The diversity of red wine is such that it can go with any type of food. But you must absolutely not conclude from this that all red wines are identical.
White wine is not really white but in fact yellow. But the expression being universal one says of a yellow wine that it is white.
Vinification of white wine is more delicate than vinification of red wine.
Two methods exist to make white wine :
a. The first one is to use white grape (which is in fact green, greenish yellow, golden yellow or pinkish yellow!). That way the white wine is the result of the fermentation of the juice of white grapes juice only.
b. The second method is more complex. One uses the juice of a red grape variety cleared of its skin and pips, with which it may absolutely not get in contact as they contain the colouring substances. It is possible to get white wine this way but it is seldom done.
Time is counted :
Immediately after their arrival in the cellar, the grapes are crushed but not destemmed. The juice (free run must) is sent to settle in containers. The rest of the grapes is pressed as quickly as possible. Air is the enemy of white wine. At its contact the wine oxidizes or becomes coloured. The must from pressing is added to the free run must.
Preparation of the must :
After six to twelve hours the particles and impurity of the grape separate from the must and float on the surface. They are removed by raking the must. The must is ready to be clarified. The clarified juice is poured in a tank, ready to ferment. Judaica Store Near Me