The basic steps of winemaking are a mix of chemistry and alchemy. The process turns grapes into something which has sparked the imagination of many for generations.
As poet Robert Louis Stevenson said “Wine is bottled poetry.”
While winemaking is both an art and a skill, there are specific steps one must take in order to make something they can call wine. Here are the very basic steps of winemaking:
1. Harvest perfectly ripe grapes. Remember, you need about 600-800 grapes to get one bottle of wine.
2. The grapes, once picked, must be inspected for quality. You don’t want any rotten grapes or raisins sneaking in to your wine. Additionally, the grapes must be destemmed.
3. The wine grapes are crushed and either fermented in their own skins (if it’s a red wine you’re going for) or the skins are removed (for white wine).
4. Fermentation requires that yeasts grow and begin to eat the sugar contained in the grapes and make alcohol. Many wineries help this process along by adding yeast cultures.
5. Any sediment is removed and the wine matures in barrels of whichever type the winemaker chooses. Some wines have very little sediment removed while others are as filtered out as possible.
6. The wine is bottled, corked, and labeled for your purchase!
This is a very, very stripped down version of winemaking. Some of the biggest factors in winemaking are time, tasting, and testing. All of these help a winemaker decide when to bottle, how much to filter, and more.
Here’s to the magic of winemaking!