Updated: May 21
“Beer is made by men, wine by God.” – Martin Luther
Wine has been around for thousands of years. The famous drink has made its appearance in several important religious and historical texts. Today, wine is enjoyed by people in many different forms. Some like to have a glass while cooking, some put it in what they are cooking, and some like to have it with whatever they cook up. One can even come across an Espresso Wine Sangria - made to be paired with a hearty breakfast!
We associate wine with relaxing evenings, old books, and vineyards growing thousands of maroon grapes. But we rarely understand the origins of this popular drink. Let’s have a look at the humble beginnings and glamorous product chronologically now –
Essentially, there are five stages in the process of winemaking.
5. Ageing – and Bottling
Every creator of wine has to follow these steps, even if they end up adding some more steps to give their end product a unique taste.
Before harvesting, several expert winemakers like to test the pH levels of their grapes. This gives them a good idea of the acidity of the grapes and the flavour they will develop in the process ahead.
The first step – Harvesting, deals with the harvest of grapes. The grapes picked for creating wine greatly influence the flavour. The timing and method of harvesting the grapes can alter the texture and taste of the wine. In order to have the best results, it is important for wine makers to understand the scientific specifics of the antacids and esters in wine along with intuition based on experience.
The intuition that a wine maker develops is greatly based on an understanding of the weather and maturity of the grapes.
Sorting and Crushing
The next step – Sorting and Crushing, focusses on the removal of stems from the grapes and then crushing them.
Up until a few years ago, much of the sorting process was done with hand. This required a lot of manual labour. However, the new development in technology has made it much simpler. Machines are now able to optically sort the berries – retaining the quality of hand sorted grapes. The sophisticated system saves countless man hours and feeds directly into the machine that crushes the grapes to obtain the juice.
The next step is Fermentation, and it involves the transfer of the grape juice into vats. The vats – large tubs or tanks designed to hold the liquid, often store the juice with the crushed grapes in them. A process called Maceration then occurs, where the juice absorbs all colour and remaining flavour from the crushed grapes and their skins. The liquid begins a natural fermentation process in these vats and in case it doesn’t on its own - wine makers help the process by adding many yeasts.
The next step – Clarification deals with the filtration of the wine. At this point the liquid develops Ethanol and Carbon Dioxide. After fermentation is complete, the juice is moved into another container and the skins are caught by a mesh. The skins are pressed to extract any remaining juice from them and then removed from the process.
The wine is then stores for Ageing. This process takes place in either stainless steel vessels or more traditionally, French Oak Barrels. The Oak Barrels are said to give a significantly smoother texture to the wine, while the stainless-steel vessels give the wine an additional zesty flavour.
The wine is generally stored for at least 18-24 months. This process of ageing the wine in Oak Barrels or Stainless-Steel vessels to promote Malolactic Fermentation – a process that alters the texture and softens the wine – is called Elevage (Maturation).
The final step in the process of winemaking is the transfer of the wine to bottles through an additional filter to remove any remaining sediments. The final corks are added to the bottles after this process of filtration – also known as fining. The bottles are then labelled and ready to be sold all over the world.
The best bottles of wine are masterful blends, with no two years tasting identical. So, the next time you are relaxing with a glass of wine in hand, remember that you are tasting history!
However, tasting history can be quite difficult when you have expensive wine bottles clinking together in a tote bag. Transporting the glass bottles can be quite a hassle and procuring ice to keep your wine cold can dampen the effect of a relaxing drink. You can find a simple solution with Outer Woods where each bottle cooler bag is designed to keep your bottles safe, secure, and chilled.
Check out the range of Outer Woods Insulated Bottle Bags here.