How is wine made is a very popular question among wine lovers today.
If you’re looking for information about how to make wine at home, please go to our home wine making page.
In it’s simplest terms, wine is made by planting vines, growing grapes, picking and crushing those grapes, allowing their juices to ferment and putting the resulting liquid into bottles.
However, for wineries, the answer to the question “how is wine made” is much more complex than this.
Winemakers have important decisions to make during every step in the wine making process. These decisions can either favorably or unfavorably effect their final product. Of course, mother nature also has a say.
The basic wine making steps are:
Choosing A Vineyard
The location chosen to plant wine grapes is perhaps the most important decision a wine maker has. Climate, weather, topography, and soil composition must be perfect for the vines to
produce, and for the grapes to ripen properly.
Deciding When To Harvest
The next most important factor in wine making is choosing the right time to harvest (pick) the grapes.
The grapes must be harvested in peak condition for their particular variety. Several factors will be considered including sugar levels, color and taste.
It’s also important for grapes to be picked carefully so they’re not bruised or split. Both hand picking and machine harvesting procedures are both used today. Hand picking is the method preferred by many fine wine producers and used most often in France.
Preparation And Crushing
At some point, the grapes will be separated from their stems and leaves, usually by a special machine. If left in contact with the grapes too long after harvest, stems can give off a bitter unwanted taste.
It is at this point that red grapes will be treated differently than white grapes.
White wine grapes are crushed and their juice is separated from their skins.
Red grape skins will remain with their juice to impart their color, tannins, and flavor to the wine.
Fermentation is the process that converts a grape’s naturally occurring sugar to alcohol. All wine grapes have some wild yeast present already, but these yeast strains are very unpredictable.
Most wine makers today add specialized cultured yeasts to produce more predictable results. Sugars may also be added.
Fermentation can take place in several types of vessels, depending upon the type of wine being made.
The proper length of time and correct temperature are very important in fermentation.
Stainless steel vats or oak barrels may be used for white wines. Oak barrels, American or French, are typically used for red wines. However, in what type of vessel a wine ferments in, and for how long they ferment, is up to each individual winemaker. The type of fermentation vat or barrel chosen will also give the wine some of its flavor.
At some time during the fermentation process or just after fermentation, red wine skins are separated from their juices.
Racking – Fining – Filtering
Once the appropriate alcohol content has been reached and fermentation is complete, the yeast and any other particles left behind must be separated from the finished product.
This is done by racking (pumping just the liquid out of the fermenting vat or container, fining (further clarifying the liquid), and filtering if necessary.
Bottling and Aging
The final step in the wine making process is putting the finished liquid into its bottle and labeling it. Some wines will be ready to drink right away. Most will be aged for a time before they are released to the public.
We hope you enjoyed this wine making information and that your question how is wine made has been answered.