Wine Notes: Process of Wine Making

Wine making has been around for thousands of years. It is not only an art but also a science. Wine making is a natural process that requires little human intervention, meaning if you put together the right ingredients in the right environment, the process will take care of the rest. However, they say that each wine maker guides the process through different techniques.

wine making

In general, there are five basic components of the wine making process:
1. harvesting
2. crushing and pressing
3. fermentation
4. clarification
5. aging and bottling

Wine makers typically follow these five steps but add variations and deviations along the way to make their wine unique.

Harvesting
The first step of wine making is harvesting the grapes. The time of picking the grapes determines many characteristics of the grapes and subsequently the wine which is made from them.

Although many wine makers prefer to hand-pick their grapes, the harvesting can also be done mechanically. Once the grapes are harvested, rotten and under ripe grapes are discarded.

Crushing and Pressing
Grapes are crushed with two different methods: using body part or using machinery.

The body part is the process of stomping the grapes with feet and crushing the grapes into must. Think about Aitana Sánchez-Gijón in movie called A Walk in the Clouds, crushing grapes with her feet in barrels. It is the old-fashioned way.

Nowadays, most wine makers prefer to use some kind of machinery to crush the grapes. And for that, a mechanical press is being used. This is a more hygienic way, as you can imagine.

Fermentation
After crushing and pressing, the juice of crushed grapes ferments with the help of yeasts added. Fermentation happens when sugar turns into alcohol. Grapes’ individual properties colour and flavour the wine-to-be. Winemakers can step in at this point and add oak fermentation or oak products into the process to further flavour the wine or add structure.

Clarification
Clarification is the process of removing certain substances like tannins and dead yeast cells. Wine is then transferred into an oak barrel or a stainless-steel tank. Clarification can be done by fining and filtration. During the process, wine is transferred into an oak barrel or a stainless-steel tank and certain substances are added to clarify it. For example, milk, clay, gelatine, egg white or isinglass (sturgeon bladder) are added for unwanted particles to attach to. Then to capture and eliminate the larger particles, the wine is filtered. The clarified wine is now ready to be transferred into another vessel for further aging or bottling.

Aging and Bottling
As a final stage, wine is aged in barrels and tanks to impart some much-needed integration on the various components of sugar, alcohol, grape juice, oak and yeast. Some wines are bottled straight away but some are given additional aging.

Some wine makers prefer aging their wine in oak barrels. The process produces a smoother and rounder wine. During this particular aging process, the wine will be exposed to oxygen which subsequently decrease tannin and increase fruitiness.

After that stage, we come in… as consumers. Because, wine is then ready to be served and consumed with friends and family.

A Brief History of Wine

wine

Wine, in short, can be described as the product of fermented grapes. Humans have been consuming and enjoying wine for thousands of years.

A Brief History of Wine

It’s not 100% clear where wine making exactly started but historians suggest that China, Georgia and Iran in 6000 to 5000 BC could be the first sites of wine making in the world. All three are regions that wild grapes grew in, so any nomadic farming community may have stumbled across the bitter little fruits and fermented them. There is also suggestion that wine may have come from other regions and used as a trade item. Pottery jugs with trace elements of wine have been discovered in Mediterranean areas from 5400 BC through to 3000 BC, but it wasn’t until the Greek and Roman times that wine making spread as a job through Europe, along with the vines and early notions of viticulture.

With the advent of bottles and corks during Renaissance, wine trade blossomed due to easier transport of goods. Wines also spread with the influence of the religious ceremonies including wine.

During modern era, as shipping routes opened, the religious orders specifically made wine for trade alongside their wine for ceremony. Further refining by skilled wine workers meant an increase in production and international taste soared for quality product.

Phylloxera –a louse like insect—that destroyed most of Europe’s vineyards ironically ended up being a catalyst for the defining of current wine growing regions and standards. Considering grape varieties for their suitability became standard practice, alongside strict wine making and viticulture parameters that have reinforced the European industry.

Old World, New World

Old World and New World are common terms for wine producing countries in the world, based on whether wine making is originated from or introduced to. The countries that have an introduced history of wine culture and wine cultivation are considered as New World countries. Old World countries, on the other hand, are the birthplace of wine making.

Old World Wines

European nations like France, Italy and Spain are considered Old World countries. Their wine making techniques are more traditional with low intervention during the process. The other Old World countries are: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, England, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey.

Characteristics of Old World wines: They tend to be more rustic, structure driven, savoury, lighter-bodied, lower in alcohol, higher acidity, less fruity. There are many restrictions and regulations around which varietals to grow.

New World Wines

New World countries embrace technology and science in wine production. New World is led by Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The other New World countries are: Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and United States.

Characteristics of New World wines: They tend to be more youthful, vibrant, fruity, higher in alcohol, varietal driven, less acidity, taste riper and sometimes even considered a little simple. There are very few restrictions exist when it comes to which varietals to grow.