Added: 22 Jan 2013
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One of the first conditions that should be met in the effort to make good red wine is the correct election of soil, location, and the variety of vine. Generally, it is not recommended to grow Vitis vinifera in the places where normally other plants are grown. This is because the oldest of the domesticated plants requires a really extraordinary care, and many aspects should be taken into account at planting. It includes intensity of solar radiation, mineral composition of soil, climatic conditions not only during summer months, but also in the period of vegetation peace. The optimum humidity of the soil and its ability of self-draining in case of excessive precipitation are important.
The winemaking process begins by harvesting grapes in September – October – depending on the variety of Vitis vinifera and the maturity. The grapes are picked mechanically or manually. The harvested grapes are put into smaller containers and transported to the distillery for processing. In production of good quality wines, manual harvesting is preferred, in order to avoid damage of the grapes which could ferment and oxide during transport. Any rotten or immature grapes are always processed separately. Upon delivery, the grapes are weighted and the content of sugar is measured by a must meter.
Then the grapes are crushed. The crushing machine should crush the grapes so that the seeds and stems are left undamaged. At the same time, they are separated from the crushed berries. If the seeds or stems are damaged, certain substances would be released to the must, which would deteriorate the resulting quality of wine (tannins, etc.). The crushed grapes are called malt residue or pomace.
Fermentation of Pomace
The pomace is put into larger casks or rotating stainless steel tanks, adding sulphur dioxide in order to prevent oxidation and growth of harmful bacteria. Enzymes disturbing the pectins of the pomace and increasing its yield are also added. In fermenting the pomace, cardon dioxide is created, pushing the solid articles of the pomace (matolines) to the must surface. Such layer of matolines is called a matoline cake or a hat. During fermentation of blue grape varieties, the matoline cake must be dipped in the must during the whole fermentation period. Otherwise, should it float on the surface, it would get dry, and harmful bacteria would developed. Dipping of the matoline cake will ensure penetration of red colouring matters from the skins to the must. The pomace of red wines ferments for approximately two or three weeks, depending on the grape variety. Modern technologies allow also regulation of the temperature in fermentation. For fermentation of the blue grape pomace, the ideal temperature is between 20-25°C.
Two basic types of presses exist – pneumatic and hydraulic. Today, mostly pneumatic presses are used. The pressing separates solid substances from liquid ones, in our case the pomace from the must. In this method of pressing, a valuable product is the self-flow, i.e. the must which is released by its own weight, without pressing. Such wines are more delicate and have light flavour. After pressing, the level of sugar is measured by the must meter, the must is further purged by filtration or in a physical way. In the latter case, the sludge is left to settle, and the pure must is pumped into another vessel.
The prepared must is pumped into tanks, adding the yeasts that will break the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. During fermentation in the tanks, temperature is controlled. The whole process lasts for several days. Upon completion of the alcohol fermentation, malic – lactic fermentation is carried out, when the malic acid is transformed into the finer and more pleasant lactic acid. The young wine is carefully pumped into a new vessel (tanks or barrels) so that the sediment composed of lees shall remain in the original tank. The tanks must be filled up to the edge in order to prevent access of the air. The alcohol fermentation in the given manufacturing process lasts for 10 days to 1 month. That period is followed by racking and filtering. The last stage is maturing in barrels or in barrique barrels usually from 6 to 18 months. Upon completion of the maturity, the wine is bottled.
All connoisseurs loving that magnificent beverage, enjoy your wine!
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