The Wine Making Process
Details Of The Wine Making Process
- The client selects the wine to be created from experience or by on the spot wine tasting in our store. The wine tasting is performed with wines created in the shop for that purpose.
- The client (customer) works with either my wife or me on a one-on-one basis throughout the entire process so that we can teach the process and guide the winemaker through the steps.
- The equipment to be utilized is assembled and sanitized with an O2 based caustic solution which is then water rinsed and followed by an anti bacterial treatment with a sulfite solution which is then rinsed with clear water.
- The wine pack is now inventoried for completeness. The winemaker's primary fermentor label is now created which will identify the wine and record the steps involved in the process. This includes wine type, wine maker's name, the starting date, type of yeast to be used, and the starting specific gravity of the must (the juice material to be used) as well as the progress of the wine as it moves from the making of wine to the maturing and final aging of the wine. The materials used in the process (such as yeast nutrient and additives such as bentonite and oak material) are now added to the primary fermentor (a food grade plastic 7.0 US gallon container) along with the wine juice. In some types of wine unfermentable sugar such as lactose is added to the must to set the finishing specific gravity into the semi sweet range if the wine type (such as a Sauvignon blanc) requires a softer finish.
- The must is now mixed with ultra-low chlorine water, pH of 7.0-7.2, and very low t (total dissolved solids) to bring the total volume to 6.0 US gallons. The must is now vigorously mixed in order to mix the water with the higher density wine juice to allow for an accurate specific gravity measurement with a standard hydrometer. This reading is recorded as the starting s.g. providing a measure of the brix ( percentage of dissolved fructose and glucose sugar in the must). It is important to have enough sugar in the solution to assure that the finished wine will be greater than 10% alcohol as that level will assure that the wine will be immune to microbial or bacterial attacks. If the brix is found to be too low the wine will be chaptelized by the addition of an appropriate amount of simple sugar syrup to bring the brix to a reasonable level.
- The yeast is now re-hydrated to reactivate the dried yeast and this solution is cooled to the temperature of the must. The must is now inoculated with the yeast solution. The solution is now termed "wine" after the yeast is added.
- The primary fermentor is now sealed from air and an air lock installed to allow for the carbon dioxide (which is a by-product of yeast and later alcohol production) to escape to the atmosphere without the possibility of any air entering the container. The air would oxidize the wine and carry bacteria or microbes that can destroy the wine during the period that the alcohol level is below 10%.
- The wine in the closed and sealed fermentor is placed in a holding environment at approximately 76° F to allow for the production of yeast in the aerobic mode. This yeast production takes place in an environment where a source of energy (sugar), and also an abundant supply of air, exists. The reproduction of yeast will continue until the air is exhausted. At this point the conversion of sugar to alcohol begins and progresses to completion based upon the level of sugar available and the characteristics of the yeast in use.
Making The Wine
1. For red wines the first or preliminary racking (siphoning to another container) takes place on the 7th day from the start. White and blush wines are racked the first time at the 14th day from the start. The purpose of the first racking is two fold.
First, to move the wine from the plastic primary fermentor. At this point the production of CO2 is now just slightly above atmospheric pressure which is still preventing the passage of air through the plastic and into the wine. To prevent oxidation of the wine it is siphoned into a glass carboy which will not allow the passage of air into the wine.
The second reason is to remove the wine from the lees (sediment) which contains inactive yeast and proteins which, if allowed to stay in contact with the wine, would promote autolysis and the production of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide produced as a result of autolysis will destroy a wine. The first racking is accomplished after the Specific Gravity (s.g.) of the wine is less than 1.005 which is an indication that the wine has at least 10% alcohol and that the majority of the energy (sugar) has been extracted from the yeast.
2. At the first racking oak chips may be added for the beneficial flavors obtained from oak. The first finning (wine clearing agents) will be added to begin the polishing process. The addition of bentonite at this time will, due to opposite ionic charges between the bentonite and the spent yeast and proteins, cause the components to attract each other and due to increased mass, they will settle to the bottom to form another lees deposit.
3. The wine is now sealed with an air lock and allowed to progress to the next racking which will take place on the 20th day from the start for all wines.
4. On the 20th day the s.g. is again measured to determine the readiness of the wine for the next racking. The target s.g. is less than 0.995. Assuming that the s.g. is correct the wine will now be racked into a clean glass carboy ( 5 or 6 gallon container) then it will be stabilized to prevent any further reproduction of the active yeast. Another clearing agent which is kieselsol is added to attract the components in the wine with ionic charges near neutral.
5. The wine is now mixed for 21 minutes with a mechanical device in 3 minute mix and 15 minute rest cycles in order to remove excess CO2 in solution.
6. Following the mix cycles the wine receives the final clearing agent which is chitin added to collect the ionic charges that are quite negative.
7. After 7 days of settling the wine is racked into a clean carboy for the final time. The wine will now go through a process of esterfication in which the five different types of acids in the wine react with the higher alcohols in the wine in the presence of O2 to form esters. The esters will form until all oxygen is consumed. The polyphenolics in the wine react with the esters to form another group of chemicals which have proven to be beneficial to the human circulatory system. These chemicals cause the platelets in the blood stream to not adhere to the lining of the system and pass on to be eliminated.
8. The wine is ready for bottling at the 45th day from the start.
Ageing The Wine
Now that the wine has been matured in a large container it is ready to be bottled. After bottling the aging process. All of the equipment required for the sanitizing and antibacterial treatment of the bottles and corks is available in the shop. The bottling takes place in a vacuum environment which prevents any air from entering and oxidizing the wine. The wine may be in-line filtered if required and the corks, after sulfite antibacterial treatment, are inserted and the winemaker then takes their wine creation home for their enjoyment.
2. Some wines such as the high tannin red, Rieslings and some Chardonnays benefit from a longer period in the 6 gallon carboys to allow for the higher tannin and alcohol levels to gracefully blend with the complex chemistry in the wine.