Ever wonder how wine is made?How to make wine. 5 easy steps!
1 - Pick the grapes:
There are 2 ways of picking the grapes. By hand or by machine. Most wineries hand-pick their grapes designated to their flagship wine. Many consider the process gentler on valuable vines and grapes, and believe only a trained eye can ensure collection of the best fruit.
Machine harvesting is arguably one of the most important advancements in the wine industry over the last 50 years. It’s been one of the leading drivers in spreading good, affordable wine across the globe.
Winemakers typically swear by the harvesting method they use (though many use both). Ultimately, what works best depends on the winemaker’s circumstances, goals and intended wine style.
And there are 2 times to pick the grapes. Night Harvest vs Day Harvest: The grapes are either picked during the day or at night to maximize efficiency, beat the heat and capture grapes at stable sugar levels
2 - Crush the grapes:
No matter how or when the grapes were picked, they all get crushed in some fashion in the next step. The destemmer, which is a piece of winemaking machinery that does exactly what it says, removes the stems from the clusters and lightly crushes the grapes.
White Wine: Once crushed, the white grapes are transferred into a press, which is another piece of winemaking equipment that is literal to its name. All of the grapes are pressed to extract the juice and leave behind the grape skins. The pure juice is then transferred into tanks where sediment settles to the bottom of the tank. After a settling period, the juice is then “racked”, which means it’s filtered out of the settling tank into another tank to insure all the sediment is gone before fermentation starts.
Red Wine: Red wine grapes are also commonly destemmed and lightly crushed. The difference is that these grapes, along with their skins, go straight into a vat to start fermentation on their skins. This is what imparts the red color into red wine, otherwise, red grapes would also make a white wine.
3 - Ferment the grapes into wine:
Simply put, fermentation is where the sugar converts into alcohol. There are plenty of techniques and technologies used during this process to accompany the different kinds of grapes. To keep things simple, this stage mainly includes:
red and white wines: yeast is added to the vats so that fermentation can take place.
red wines: carbon dioxide is released during fermentation which causes the grape skins to rise to the surface. Winemakers must punch down or pump over the “cap” several times a day to keep the skins in contact with the juice.
red wines: the grapes are pressed after fermentation is complete. After racking to clarify the wine, the reds will spend several months aging in barrels.
4 - Age the wine:
Winemakers have lots of choices in this step, and again they all depend on the kind of wine one wants to create. Flavors in a wine become more intense due to several of these winemaking choices:
Aging for several years vs. several months
Aging in stainless steel vs. oak
Aging in new oak vs. ‘neutral’ or used barrels
Aging in American oak barrels vs. French oak barrels
Aging in various levels of ‘toasted’ barrels (i.e. charred by fire)
5 - Bottle the wine:When the winemaker feels a wine has reached its full expression in aging, then it’s time to bottle the wine for consumption. And the rest is history, my friends.
Some white wines are ready to be bottled after a few months.
Most dry reds need 18-24 months of aging before bottling.
And that's how to make wine.