Learn About Red Wine Production: Part II

Date February 1, 2009

Learn About Wine Production

Continuing with step three of red wine making, let’s learn about Pressing, Secondary Fermentation and Clarification in red wine production.

Largely today, red wines are pressed either slightly before fermentation finishes or when the wine reaches its intended dryness level. Pressing enables all the juice to be extracted while allowing solids to be easily removed.

Typically part of the production of white wines, especially with Chardonnay, some red wines do undergo malo-lactic fermentation after primary fermentation has completed. Malo-lactic fermentation is responsible for giving white wines that buttery flavor; in red wines it imparts toffee flavors which go unnoticed until the red wine has matured and thrown off its fruit-forward flavors and aggressive tannins.

Clarification in red wines consists of a series of rackings, finings or filtrations. It can happen at any time before, during or after the aging process. It’s the same process as clarification in white wine production. Racking is simply the act of gravity pulling remaining sediment (lees) to the bottom of the juice as it sits idle. Fining utilizes binding agents that marry to small particles too to settle during racking. The weight of the newly bound sediment is heavy enough to cause it to settle. And filtration is a further step in clarification that works much the way a coffee filter does.

With highly tannic red wine, many tannins bind with suspended proteins present in the must and will settle out naturally during clarification. This eliminates the need for heat stabilizing in which tannins are added to remove excessive proteins in white wines. The tannins are considered the fining agents in white wine production.

Likewise, cold stabilization isn’t an issue as red wines are served at room temperature and don’t have to worry about getting overly chilled.

Depending on the type of wine being produced it may call for additional varietals to achieve the finished product; these are called blends. In this event wines will either be blended before any aging takes place or prior to bottling after aging separately. A good example of this is France’s Bordeaux wines which consist of five grapes varietals blended before aging.

Step 4: Bottling

After all these lengthy processes are complete it’s time for the red wine to go to bottling. Most red wines today are produced as “drink now” varieties and are comsumed after less than a year of bottling, but for more complex reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon, bottle aging adds to its complexity, its structure to develop an extensive array of scents call the “bouquet”. For this, conditions need to be cool as warm storage will age the bottle faster and will impart less complexity.

There is yet another process of red wine production that is more relegated to specific varietals than all of red wine production, called carbonic maceration. This is a process of whole berry fermentation, meaning whole clusters are put into an anaerobic environment filled with carbon dioxide to induce fermentation without the use of yeast. The process is referred to as an enzymatic fermentation and lasts up to three weeks in hot temperatures.

As with normal production the berries are settled to let the free run juice flow. Fermentation that happens does so through the natural yeasts on the grapes. Then the berries are pressed, it undergoes alcoholic fermentation, malo-lactic fermentation, it is racked, both heat and cold stabilized and finally bottled. This process produces a wine lower in alcohol, tannin and pigment. The best example of a wine produced this way is Beaujolais Nouveau.

That concludes my series on wine making. If you missed any part and want to go back, you can learn about white wine production at the link below.

White Wine Production

As well, you can learn about red wine production at the link below.

Red Wine Production.

I hope you enjoyed this topic as it was a fun one for me. And I hope it helped you more on your quest to learn about wine.

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