Wine can be made from almost any kind of grapes, fruits or berries, but here we will only deal with how to make red wine using grapes. Wine is basically grape juice that has fermented, which means the sugar becomes alcohol. If the sugar content is high it becomes a distilled liquor, but if the sugar content is low it becomes wine. Red wine is best known as “rose” or “blush.”
Things you will need:
- Grapes of your choice
- Bladder press
- A stainless steel vat or oak barrels
- Saccharomyces yeast or yeast of your choice
- Microporous filters
- Wine bottles
- Deciding what grapes to use. In order to make red wine the grapes must be purple or red. The grape skin, pulp, and seeds must stay with the juice while it is fermenting. Pink or rose wine is made by clearing the non-juice pumice from the must while it is fermenting. The best grape for making red wine is the European Vitis vinifera which has a good balance of acid and sugar for fermentation.
- Crushing the grapes. Some people still crush grapes in a vat using their feet, but a simpler way is to use a machine that does the crushing. It is important when making red wine to not separate the skin and the stem from the grape because they provide tannins which have an effect on the taste of the red wine, and the skin affects the color. The period of time where the juice, skins and stems are together is called maceration. This may go on for hours or weeks. After maceration it is time to press the grapes. Pressing is done with a bladder press that squeezes the juice out and leaves the rest behind.
- The fermentation process. The juice is turned into alcohol by fermentation. The juice is placed in stainless steel vessels at the correct temperature and yeast is added which turns the grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide and adds flavor. There are different flavors of yeast, but the most common is Saccharomyces. An old-fashioned way that is still sometimes used is to put the wine into small oak barrels which are done at a lower temperature and take a longer time. The wood from the barrels adds more flavor to the wine. While the red wine is fermenting the ingredients that float to the top of the van are pushed back down into the juice at least twice a day to keep them from drying out. When the yeast is done changing the sugar to alcohol all that is left is the wine and the dead yeast cells (lees).
- Letting the wine stand still is called the first racking. At this point when the yeast has settled the wine can be filtered out without disturbing the yeast.
- Aging the wine. The red wine can be left in barrels to add more flavor from the chemicals in the wood. Since each barrel may age differently, the winemaker may blend several barrels or mix different varieties of grapes to get the wine they want.
- The final steps are stabilization and pasteurization. Stabilization removes tartaric acid by microporous filters, and pasteurization is done by heat or cold on wine that has an alcohol content of less than 14%.
- Storing the wine. Colored bottles reduce light damage and storing wine in a cool damp location around 55 degrees is best. Some wine is better when stored for a long time and other wine should be consumed immediately.
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