A primer on how wine is made
Winemaking has evolved a lot of the years. Science has meant that at every stage, new things can be done to influence the style of wine.
At one polar opposite end of the spectrum - the mass-produced end- this means you can try to create a consistent, product with a specific taste to it. At the other, you have winemakers opting to leave the wine to develop as naturally as possible.
There’s an unquestionable depth you could go into with this full process, so I want to touch on the overall steps that are included in winemaking.
At the highest level, it goes like this. Grapes are grown, which are then harvested, crushed and pressed into grape juice. That grape juice goes through a process of alcoholic fermentation to convert the sugar into alcohol, and then a secondary ‘malolactic fermentation.’
The wines might be next be blended together (as with say a syrah-grenache blend), before a potential process of maturation, which you might notice when you see things like 'matured in oak.’
The wine is bottled, where it may well be kept longer, and then eventually sold.
At every stage of the winemaking process, the winemaker and vineyard manager makes decisions. They may, for example, decide to blend after maturation, or not mature at all. Likewise, you may decide not to de-stem and instead opt for whole bunch maturation. Every choice or intervention has an impact on the taste of the output bottle. This is before you consider the weather, the climate, the terroir, or even the variety of grape itself.
It leads to an infinite number of possible outcomes. To say nothing of the fact that every day a wine sits in a bottle changes its flavour slightly.
If it’s of interest, I’ll dive in in future weeks to each stage in a bit more detail. Let me know where you’d like me to start.