Turning Grapes Into Wine Essay
Turning Grapes Into Wine
Have you ever wondered how a sophisticated drink such as wine can be produced by such a small fruit like grapes? I have always thought about it as I would buy grapes from the store to snack on. Holding them in my hand I would always be curious how they do it, Well, I am here to explain the process and when I am done, I just might pour me a glass myself. The first step in the wine making process is harvesting the grapes. Grapes are used because there is no other fruit that will produce adequate amounts of sugar, acid, esters and tannins that are needed in order to make wine on a constant basis.
In order to make sure your wine is created at its best, the grapes have to be harvested at exactly the right time of year. Although hand picking is preferred by majority wineries, machines can be used, although they are harder on the grapes and vineyard. Once the grapes have been harvested, they will be sent to the winery where they will be crushed and pressed. We remember seeing many times of grapes being crushed under our feet. This has come to a pass as with many things in life that change.
Machines are now used to do the crushing and pressing which has taken the ritual and romance out of the wine making process. We can be sure that with using the machines, the sanitation has gone up. Machines use to crush and press the grapes have also improved the quality and longevity of the wine as well as reducing the need for preservatives. Sometimes, winemakers choose to allow fermentation to begin inside uncrushed whole grape clusters, allowing the natural weight of the grapes and the onset of fermentation to burst the skins of the grapes before pressing the uncrushed clusters.
Up until crushing and pressing the steps for making white wine and red wine are essentially the same. However, if a winemaker is to make white wine, he or she will quickly press the mush after crushing in order to separate the juice from the skins, seeds, and solids. By doing so unwanted color (which comes from the skin of the grape, not the juice) and tannins cannot leach into the white wine. Essentially, white wine is allowed very little skin contact, while red wine is left in contact with its skins to garner color, flavor, and additional tannins during fermentation, which of course is the next step.
Fermentation is indeed the magic at play in the making of wine. If left to its own devices must or juice will begin fermenting naturally within 6-12 hours with the aid of wild yeasts in the air. For a variety of reasons, many winemakers prefer to intervene at this stage by inoculating the natural must. This means they will kill the wild and sometimes unpredictable natural yeasts and then introduce a strain of yeast of personal choosing in order to more readily predict the end result.
Regardless of the chosen path, once fermentation begins, it normally continues until all of the sugar is converted to alcohol and a dry wine is produced. Fermentation can require anywhere from ten days to a month or more. Sweet wine is produced when the fermentation process stops before all of the sugar has been converted into alcohol. This is usually a conscious, intentional decision on the part of the winemaker. Once fermentation is completed, the clarification process begins.
Winemakers have the option of racking or siphoning their wines from one tank or barrel to the next in the hope of leaving the precipitates and solids called pomace in the bottom of the fermenting tank. Filtering and fining may also be done at this stage. Filtration can be done with everything from a course filter that catches only large solids to a sterile filter pad that strips wine of all life. Fining occurs when substances are added to a wine to clarify them.
The clarified wine is then racked into another vessel, where it is ready for bottling or further aging. The final stage of the wine making process involves the aging and bottling of wine. After clarification, the winemaker has the choice of bottling a wine immediately, or can give a wine additional aging. Further aging can be done in bottle, stainless steel or ceramic tanks, large wooden ovals, or small barrels. Now that you know how this little fruit can produce something so delicious, you can go grab yourself a glass, pour some wine, and ENJOY!
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 March 2017
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