Winemaking - How Wine is Made?

Since its discovery over 8000 years ago, the recipe for creating wine has not changed much. The advancement of human civilization and technology improved the various aspects of the winemaking, but the core technique always remained the same. Although many claim that modern advancements have diluted the quality of wine, it cannot be said that new machinery and automated processes (mechanical harvesters, grape crushers, temperature-controlled tanks, and centrifuges) did not increased the output of modern production. Many medium to large producers of wine have in the last few decades accepted more automated approach, but small vineries still maintain hands-on approach where winemaker monitors all important steps of the process (regulating the amount of yeast, the fermentation process, aging the wine and more).

Wine making

The two most important things about creating quality wine is choosing the right recipe for the right type of grape (hundreds of types of grapes demand specific recipes and approach to their fermentation) and timing (choosing the perfect times to pick them, remove the must, time the fermentation, aging and storing).

There are four important steps in making a wine -

  • harvesting and crushing grapes
  • fermenting must
  • ageing the wine
  • packaging

Harvesting and crushing grapes

Winemaker must choose perfect time for harvesting grapes. This is achieved with small device called refractometer, which measure the amount of sugar in grapes. Harvesting can be performed either by manual workforce, or by automated harvesters that were first introduced in 1968. These machines can collect and funnel the grapes into field hopper or mobile storage container that can either transport the grapes to the manufacturing plant or directly at the vineyard press the grapes into musk. This simplifies the process of fermentation (musk must be in less contact with the air as possible).

Wineries collect the grape in hydraulic or air pressure powered crusher stemmer machines, which perfectly crush and remove stems from the liquid mass.

Grapes for wines

Fermenting the must

Process of fermentation differs between red and white wines. Red ones have skin of the grape present in the must, but for white ones skin must be removed because it adds to the redness. The amount of time skin is present in the fermentation will determine the redness of the wine. Various amounts of yeast, nutrients and additives are added to the must to provide best possible condition for the transitions of sugar to alcohol. Average time for fermentation usually lasts between 7 to 14 days.

Ageing the wine

After the wine is fermented, it must be allowed to age in the controlled environment (underground cellars or modern metal tanks). During that time some recipes will be is finalized (my mixing of wine with other alcohols), and some wines will be crushed again and allowed to go into another 3-7 days process of fermentation (red wines). The finished musk is then put through the centrifuges that filters and collects the clear liquid of the wine.

Packaging

Majority of medium to large wineries use automated machines for packaging their wine in glass containers. Corks on the bottle may vary from expensive oak corks to the cheap aluminum or plastic ones.