Vinification (The Process)
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What are the steps in the winemaking process? How are the different wines produced, and what gives them their colour?
Although winemaking has been practiced for centuries, it is an art little changed.
The steps in winemaking:
1. The fresh grapes are de-stemmed and crushed.
2. The juice is drained from the grapes, then from the stems and skins.
3. The juice and natural yeast from the skins are added to a vat or oak barrel to ferment. The yeast converts the grapes' natural sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, which then bubbles and dissipates.
4. The juice, now called "must", ferments at controlled temperatures for up to a couple weeks until the sugar is gone.
5. The dead yeast are now either removed or left in to add complexity.
6. The wine can be kept fresh or aged in a stainless steel vat or oak barrel; the oak imparts a vanilla, toast taste.
7. The remaining particles are removed from the wine by draining and filtering.
8. The wine is bottled and labelled.
What gives wine its colour?
It seems logical to say that red wines come from red grapes, and white wine from "white" grapes. In fact, the juice of most grapes is white and the skin is what gives the wine its colour.
To produce a red wine, the dark skins of the grapes are left to ferment with the juice. As the yeast converts the sugar into alcohol, the pigment from the grape skins is released.
By removing the skins a white wine is produced, so that even a black grape can produce a white wine. A rosť is created in the same manner as a red except the skins are removed earlier, and it becomes lighter in body as well as colour.
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