Did you ever ask yourself how to make wine from grapes? Notwithstanding all the complications surrounding the winemaking method, the wine is more or less just fermented grape juice. The primary winemaking process is a much simple one.
So Let’s Start to Think About How to Make Wine From Grapes
First, the grapes should be harvested from the vineyard. When to do this? The time of harvest depends on the variety of grapes, the region that is grown, and the way of wine is produced. However, harvest usually occurs between February and April in the southern hemisphere and between August and October in the Northern Hemisphere. The harvest period is often referred to as the crush. The winemaker determines the optimal moment to harvest the vineyard. Based on the grape’s ripeness, assuring the necessary levels of acid, tannin, and sugar. Unsuitable weather can also impact the time of harvest. Threats such as excessive heat or frost may force a harvest earlier than would otherwise be desired. Such circumstances leave the grapes less time to mature on the vine.
Traditional or Modern Harvesting
Some wineries continue to use the traditional harvesting method. This means that the harvesting has been done by hand. The main benefit of handpicking is that it enables the choice of only the best grapes. You can discard delicate grapes, and grapes that are not yet ripe can be left on the vine to grow to maturity. When I’m thinking about how to make wine from grapes, I don’t think about mechanization during the harvesting because I have a too-small amount of grapes. I can do this manually with the help of friends.
However, mechanical harvesters were launched in the 1960s, and they’re used in the most modernized vineyards. These machines are considerably more effective in harvesting up to 200 tons of grapes per day than the one ton that an individual picker could harvest.
After the grapes are harvested, the first step is crushing them. The grapes are put into a mechanical crusher which gently squeezes the grapes to break the skins and release the juice. The resulting mixture is called the must. Some very small wineries may still crush grapes by trampling them barefoot or using a small hand-wielded crusher. But nearly all large-scale wineries have moved to mechanical methods. And the old-fashioned grape stomp is now mostly reserved for entertainment value at wine festivals.
Next comes fermentation. Fermentation happens when yeast comes into touch with the grape juices and gradually converts the grape sugar into alcohol—used to exist naturally on the grapes. So only leaving the must to sit undisturbed would likely result in some level of spontaneous fermentation. However, most modern winemakers use cultured yeasts as well to give them more right control over the fermentation process. Fermentation can run for a few days to a few months. When this process is complete, you have wine.
The wines are typically allowed to then rest for a period before drinking. That’s known as finishing the wines or maturing. Of course, this is an immensely simplified explanation of the winemaking method, and winemakers use several different ways to produce the wine they want. For example, some wines are barrel fermented, which only means they are provided to ferment inside oak barrels. Standard wines are fermented in stainless steel barrels. Oak barrels will combine an oaky character to the wine as well as impact the color and texture. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is supposed to be neutral and will not add anything more than what the grapes previously brought to the wine.
Maturing in Oak
You may also know the wines that are barrel-aged. These wines are first fermented in stainless steel tanks and then left to mature in oak barrels. The character and flavor of the final wine can be affected by so many matters, including the specific type and age of oak barrels used, the temperature of the wine during fermentation, and how long the wine is allowed to mature. Depending on the winemaker’s preferences, the whole winemaking process can take time. Without exaggeration, I can say that it can last anywhere from a few months to a few years.
Find out more about how to make wine from grapes here.