Nothing is a better cap to the day than a glass of wine. Some prefer red to white, others white to red. Although very different in scope, each wine has positive points that make it beloved. While enjoying your pour, you might not be giving much thought to how it’s made. Allow us to educate you. And, feel free to use this knowledge to impress your friends at the next dinner party.
Making Red Wine
Red wine is a product that has stood the test of time. Today, it’s made fundamentally the same way it was 6000 years ago in Persia and Greece.
After harvesting, vineyard workers weed out the rotten or mildewed grapes. The grapes are then crushed, and the juice is kept with the skins. Making red wine with the skins ensures that the tannins are infused into the wine, giving it antioxidants that are both medicinal and flavorful.
The color and flavor of the grapes seep into the juice. Meanwhile, the sugar is converted to alcohol with the help of the yeast. Winemakers can use the natural yeast in the grapes or add some to augment the process. This is known as fermentation.
After fermentation, the mixture (or must) is pressed to reveal the liquid. Usually, the wine is then matured in oak barrels. The oak barrels add a depth of flavor that makes the wine more drinkable. Maturation takes anywhere from a few months to a few years.
After maturation, the wine goes through a process called fining to filter out any impurities like yeast particles. Finally, sterilization and filtering occur before the red wine is bottled.
Making White Wine
In contrast to red wine, making white wine is more straightforward and generally takes less time. Obviously, white grapes are used, which require a unique type of cultivation.
The most significant difference in making white wine is that the grapes are crushed first to remove all skins and stems. The white grapes (which are not all completely white) are separated from the skins before being made into wine. The grape juice is then allowed to settle for a while, ensuring that all sediment will sink to the bottom.
After settling, the juice is transferred to another container for fermentation. The fermentation process takes longer for the white grapes because they have to be kept cool. After fermenting, the juice is considered wine; however, it goes through additional aging either in a container or barrel.
White wine undergoes cold stabilization, a process by which the tartaric acid is removed from the wine. Before being bottled, the wine is filtered. Many white wines today are bottled with screw caps.
Serving Wine: Making The Most Of The Flavors
White wine is meant to be chilled, and you can do that either in the refrigerator or at tableside. Chilling the bottle horizontally is the preferred method. On the other hand, red wine is meant to be served at room temperature, or 60-70 degrees. In both cases, do not fill the glass all the way. At home, pour the wine to the widest point in the glass so that it receives optimal contact with the air. Of course, in a restaurant, we prefer a more generous pour!
No matter which wine your palate prefers, understand that the journey from grape vineyard to your table is very intense, filled with many steps that make for a delicious glass.