Making wine is one of those age-old customs that has been around for virtually as long as humankind has needed a drink. But even though drinking wine has been a pleasure shared by people of many ages and countries, there is still some mystery around the specifics of how it is made.
When and where did winemaking begin?
It will be helpful to understand the context of wine’s history before we get into the specifics of how to produce wine from grapes. While France and Italy are the nations most closely associated with wine production, archaeological evidence indicates that wine production may have begun in China around 7000 B.C., with Armenia and Georgia following suit not too long after.
What are the steps?
The precise processes in the harvesting process will vary in time, method, and technology depending on the type of grape, the region, and the type of wine that a winemaker desires to produce. However, these fundamental vine-to-wine stages are generally present in every wine harvest:
Harvesting is the process of selecting and gathering wine grapes, much like any other ripe fruit. Destemming happens after the grapes are harvested from the vineyard, either manually or mechanically.
Pressing, also known as crushing, is the process of pressing grapes to obtain the juice that will be used to make wine. Grapes for white wine are immediately pressed to prevent prolonged contact with the grape skins (hence the light color). Red wine grapes are crushed along with their skins and seeds, which add tannins and color.
Without a doubt, fermentation is the key to making wine. Depending on the winemaker, either wild yeast or cultured yeast starts the fermentation process, which turns the grapes’ sugar content into ethanol and carbon dioxide (i.e., alcohol content).
As the name suggests, clarification is the process of cleaning the wine to get rid of any floaties or sediment that can give it a hazy appearance.
The process of maturation occurs when wine keeps fermenting and adds complexity, tastes, and aromas. While some vintners choose to mature wine in stainless steel vats, others prefer oak vats, which can add spicier, warmer aromas. Wine ages differently from one bottle to the next, although in general, white wines aren’t aged as long as red wines.
Bottling is the last step in the production of wine from grapes. Some wines are suitable to drink straight immediately, while others need to mature for years in the wine bottle.