We all have this image in our head of wine making involving some French or Italian ladies stomping grapes in a huge barrel. Although this method was certainly used in the days of yore, they are not used today. So how is wine made? Here it is in the simplest terms.
First, you grow the grapes, and the quality of the fruit is paramount. Many vineyards boast vines that are hundreds of years old. A lot of care is taken in the decision of what grapes to grow and how to grow them, everything from climate, fertilizers, etc.
At some point, the winemakers decide when to harvest. They continually taste the grapes in the vineyards to start picking them at just the right time. Smaller vineyards still pick by hand, which allows greater quality control. Larger vineyards do so by machines due to huge grounds to cover.
Once you have all the grapes picked, the next step is to crush the grapes. And how you do so depends on if you’re making white or red wine. For white wine, after the grapes are crushed, they are immediately pressed, which separates the skin from the juice. For red wines, the grapes are crushed and left with the skins on. The skin keeps the juice red and adds tannins.
The next step is fermentation. Yeast and sugar is what evolves into alcohol. And with wine, you can either allow the natural yeast in the grapes to ferment on their own–which takes a long time and usually results in more complex wines–or you can add strains of yeast to the juice to create the fermentation process.
After fermentation, you now have wine in its simplest form. The next step is to age the wine. That process can be done in steel, cement or oak. With steel, no oxygen is allowed to touch the wine, keeping the developing flavors all natural and usually fruit driven. But if you age in oak, the wine gets oxygen and develops textures and flavors from the wood.
Some winemakers filter the wine after aging to get rid of sediments, which are harmless if you do get some. Then they bottle and deliver to your favorite liquor store or drinking establishment. And that’s where you come in. Enjoy!