Do you know the difference between Red, White and Sweet Dessert Wines? I didn't either until I started finding my taste palette after a few winery tours. You can learn a lot by asking questions and being open to suggestions when at a tasting bar. Here are a few notes from me on the wine making process this Wine Wednesday.
The Wine Making Process – Wine Wednesday
After a harvest there is a lot of work that goes into creating the perfect red wine, this is only a peek at the process:
- Grapes first have to be de-stemmed, which is the process of removing the grape from the shoots to which they are attached.
- Grapes are placed into the wine press where they are compressed into a paste which in turn releases the must (the juice of the fruit). The resulting paste (or pomace) and must combination spend time together in a cask. The length of time the mixture sits in contact with the grape skins and pulp determines the character of the finished wine.
- When the winemaker determines the right amount of time has passed, the juice is drawn off and yeast added to begin the fermentation process.
- Once the color and sugar content are correct the cask valve is opened and the juice is then transferred into barrels where the fermentation process is finalized.
- When the fermentation process is complete, the wine is either bottled straight away, or left to age.
Did you know ‘Pressed wines‘ are made from the leftover solids. They have a strong color and are generally mixed with the first juice in many different ways to create wines of different strengths and flavors.
Red wines for the most part are best aged so they can sit in the bottle and develop their boldness but don't let that stop you from opening your favorite bottle and enjoying it over a delicious steak dinner! Check out a couple of my reviews on Bitch and Toscano Vineyards.
During the harvest it is important not to damage the grapes for white wine so they are poured into the receiving bins as quickly as possible after which the process begins:
- Grapes are transferred to the press where the must (the juice of the fruit) is separated from the skins and other solids.
- At this stage the solids are disregarded, the remaining must is slightly refrigerated before being transferred into a stainless steel vat where it is allowed to ferment.
- Care is taken to maintain the temperature during fermenting which preserves the delicate aromas of the finished wine.
- Once the fermentation process is complete, the wine is decanted taking care to avoid the sediment which collects at the bottom of the vat.
- After decanting, the wine is bottled and ready to be sold.
Most white wines are best if consumed within two years of bottling. Check out Turning Leaf!
Sweet Dessert Wines
Grapes used for sweet wines are of the white Moscatel and Garnacha varieties which leave the wine with a mushroom type smell as the bottle is opened. These wines are produced in one of two ways after the initial harvesting and pressing occurs:
- Botrytis Cinera, a fungus which grows very quickly, is used. This transforms the fruit and changes the color and also alters the acid components and sugar levels.
- Interrupting the fermentation process by adding alcohol. This method creates a strong, sweet wine where the grape is the major flavor.
Dessert wines I find are best served with some puff pastry and in small amounts due to their sweetness. They really are a dessert themselves but why not indulge in a little pastry too!
Who knew this much work went into making a batch of wine. Next time you visit a winery don't be afraid to ask questions and learn about the backgrounds of the wines, you'll be intrigued just as I was.
Remember if you're going to drink, drink responsibly!
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