Wine is one of the oldest drinks known to man.
In fact, the process of wine making has been around for thousands of years. Most people know that wine comes from grapes, but how familiar are you with the step-by-step process of turning grapes into wine?
In this article, we’ll take you through on how to make wine, as well as answer all of your questions.
How To Make Wine?
There are five basic steps of winemaking. These steps are:
- Crushing and pressing
- Aging and bottling
This is what gives each wine its flavor and aroma.
Step 1: The Harvest
We know that wine comes from grapes, so the first step is to harvest the grapes. This is arguably the most important step of making wine from juice. Without high quality grapes, the wine has no chance of becoming a high-quality wine.
Grapes are the only fruit with enough sugar, acids, esters, and tannins to make wine consistently. The time the grapes are harvested and picked will determine the wine's sweetness, flavor, and acidity. During this step, workers will discard any rotten or under-ripe grapes.
Step 2: Crushing and Pressing
In the old days, grapes were crushed by foot. For thousands of years, men and women danced in large barrels of grapes, crushing them with each step. Fast forward a few hundred years, and humans have realized that this wasn’t the most sanitary practice, although it was a fun process.
Today, machines take the place of this tradition. Large machines will stomp or trod the grapes into what is known as ‘must.’ Must is essentially grape juice that contains the seeds and stems of the grapes.
Here are some slight variations in the wine-making process, depending on whether the winemaker is making white or red wine. If a white wine is being made, then the winemaker will quickly discard any skins or seeds from the must to prevent any color from leaking in.
If a red wine is being made, then the winemaker can leave the skins in the must for a while. Red wine is left in contact with the skin to develop into that rich red color we all know and love.
Step 3: Fermentation
Now it’s time for the magic step - the one that will turn regular grape juice into wine. If left on its own, the grape juice will naturally begin to ferment within 6-12 hours due to the wild yeast that grapes contain.
Some winemakers choose to leave the grape juice as is and allow the wild yeast to ferment naturally.
However, most winemakers choose to kill the wild yeast and instead add their own yeast of choice to control the outcome of the wine better.
Once fermentation has begun, the sugar begins to convert to alcohol, and wine is produced. The total time a wine can ferment ranges from one week to over a month.
The ABV content of a wine depends on how much sugar the grapes contain. The higher the sugar level, the higher the alcohol level. If a winemaker is producing a sweet wine, then they will stop the fermentation process before all of the sugar has been converted to alcohol.
Step 4: Clarification
The next step is to clarify the wine and remove dead yeast, proteins, and tannins. Winemakers will transfer the wine into stainless steel tanks or large oak barrels for this step.
To remove the unwanted yeast and proteins from the wine, winemakers may add egg whites or clay to help draw out dead years cells and other small solids. The solids will stick to the clay or egg whites and sink to the bottom of the tank.
Step 5: Aging and bottling
The last step in wine-making is to age and bottle the wine. Some winemakers may bottle the wine immediately, while others may age the wine in wooden barrels or stainless steel tanks.
Many winemakers use oak barrels when aging red wine because it produces a smooth, oaky flavor that many wine drinkers like.
Once the wine has been aged, it is bottled and secured with a cork or screw cap.
Check out our other blog to learn how many glasses of wine are in a bottle!
How long does wine fermentation last?
The total time a wine can ferment ranges from one week to over a month.
Does grape juice turn into wine?
If left long enough, grape juice can turn into wine. This is because of the wild yeast that’s naturally found in grapes. The presence of the yeast will start to ferment the grape juice and eventually turn it into wine.
Can you drink wine that is still fermenting?
Yes, you can taste wine still fermenting, which is recommended. This will allow you to evaluate the wine and see what it is like during every stage. If your wine does not taste how you’d expect it to, then tasting it during each step can help you find out when the problem occurred and make changes.
How long does it take to turn grapes into wine?
It takes about three years to turn grapes into wine. This includes the time it takes to plant the grape seeds, harvest them, and turn them into wine.
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