Wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grapes. Yeast consumes grapes’ sugar and changes it into carbon dioxide, ethanol and heat. Various types of yeast strains and grapes produce different types of wine. The variations are a result of the complicated interactions between the reactions in the fermentation process, the grape’s biochemical development, the growing environment of the grape, and the qualities of wine. Some wines are not made from grapes and have fermented additional fruits like cherry, plum, pomegranate and elderberry.
In this blog, we will discuss two types of wine:
Red Wine - Wine made from dark-colored grapes is called red wine. The wine’s initial color can be deep violet for young wines or brick red for mature wines. For older red wines, the actual color of the wine is brown. Greenish-white is the hue of the juice for most of the purple grapes. The red shade comes from anthocyanin pigments present in the grape’s skin. The comparatively uncommon teinturier varieties produce a red-colored juice, which is an exception. Hence, most of the production process of red wine is about flavor and color extraction from the skin of the grape.
White Wine - Wine that is fermented without skin contact is white wine. Made from yellow or green colored grapes, the hue can be yellow-green or yellow-gold. It is created when the non-colored grape pulp undergoes alcoholic fermentation. These wines come in varied types that are caused by the procedure of winemaking. Some white wine is also created from grapes displaying colored skin. However, the wort obtained is not stained.
Growing and Ripening
Grapes are produced in a grapevine after the third year. Irrespective of the age of the wine, grapes solely grow on one-year-old stalks. This is why viticulturists prune the vineyards back every year to grow new vine. Wine grapes are harvested when they ripen completely as unlike other fruits, grapes do not ripen after they are picked.
Destemming grapes of red wine decrease tannin, which has a harsh taste. Also, sorting table conveyor belts are used by certain wineries for removing bad grapes or leaves. Here, you must know that some varieties of red wine ferment well with the entire cluster.
During fermentation, grapes are put into a tank for fermentation with their seeds, skins and everything. At times, the crushed grapes undergo a chilling process known as “cold soaking”. This transfers the hue and flavor present in the skin to the juice. It is the skin of the grapes that give red wines their intense hue.
Fermenting into Wine
When a yeast culture consumes the grape sugar and makes alcohol, the fermentation process begins. Yeast variants are many. While certain wineries buy commercial yeast or inject the juice with special house yeast, others allow the yeast to happen naturally. The latter method is called native or indigenous fermentation.
Typically, red wines need warmer temperatures to ferment compared to their whiter counterparts. Additionally, red wines usually ferment until almost all the sugar is consumed. This makes red wines not sweet or ‘dry’.
Fining and Racking
Post fermentation, the wine is quite cloudy from the grape bits and yeast lees. Hence, winemakers allow their wines to rest for some time in tanks or barrels and add a clarifying agent, such as bentonite, which is a type of clay. This is the fining process after which the wine is rendered clear. As all the protein gets deposited in the tank’s bottom, the clear wine is racked into a fresh barrel or tank. In some wineries, the makers do not perform fining and wait until the wine gets settled on its own.
Aging and Bottling
Red wine ages from 4 weeks to 4 years or maybe longer before it is bottled. When red wine is aged in barrels, they get rich flavors of baking spice and vanilla from the oak. Aging in barrels softens the tannins and the color also becomes darker.
Before bottling, wines are often filtered for the final time. Filtering gets rid of any microorganisms that make wine bad. Again, you have to keep in mind that not all wineries do this as filtering gets rid of the taste component in wine. Well-made, unfiltered wines have the potential to age for a long time.
Hence, if you purchase wines that are unfiltered, make sure to decant them.
Crushing Grapes and Collecting Juice
At first, the grapes are pressed, and the sweet juice is gathered in vats to be fermented into wine.
Fermenting Juice into Wine
Usually, white wines ferment cooler than red wines. This is to conserve the primary flavors of the wine. At this time, the 2 parts sugar gets fermented into 1 part alcohol. Thus, in case you begin with 2 Brix of sugar, you will get a 1% ABV wine. The higher the level of sugar in the juice, the greater will be the alcohol content.
Oaking and MLF
Through oaking, white wine gets the flavor of vanilla and sweet spices. MLF adds creamy features to white wine. These two processes take time and cost the winery extra money. That is why oaked wines are more costly.