Wine Making History and Processes

Winemaking history started way back 6000 BC. It became popular in ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. There are two general categories in making wine-the still wine production and the sparkling wine production.

Wine making started thousands of years ago during the early Bronze Age. It was proven by archaeologists that the earliest wine production came from the sites of Georgia and Iran in early 6000 to 5000 BC. Another evidence of wine making is found in Macedonia, a part of Eastern Europe. Remnants of crushed grapes are discovered there. In Egypt, wine became a part of their recorded history and played a remarkable role in their ancient ceremonial life. Wine was common in the classical era of Greece and Rome, too. The Roman Empire improved the cultivation techniques in making wine by establishing plantations as well as storage and by shipping wine all over Western Europe and other countries.

Wine consumption became popularized from the 15th century onwards, surpassing the devastating phylloxera louse of the 1870s. Many religious groups such as the Christian Church and medieval Islamic hindered the production of wines because they believed that it was forbidden. However, the Muslim chemists and Geber started the idea of distillation of wine for medicinal purposes.

Today, wine making requires a deep scientific knowledge and profound understanding known as oenology. Oenology is the science of wine making. Laboratory tests increasingly supplemented and replaced traditional methods. They offer comprehensive information about the process by studying and practicing oenology.

There are two general categories in making wine. First is the still wine production which entails no carbonation. The second is the sparkling wine production which involves carbonation. The most widespread and recognized example of a sparkling wine is the champagne. In other regions, a sparkling wine is called Asti in Italy, Cava in Spain, and Cap Classique in South Africa.

Process of wine making

Once harvested, grapes are flattened. Depending on what kind of wine is being made, fermentation usually takes between one to two weeks. Yeast changes nearly all of the sugar content in the grape sap into crisp ethanol or alcohol. Following the first fermentation, the juice is moved to containers in preparation for the next stage. It is in this stage that grape sugar is gradually changed into alcohol and the wine becomes transparent. Some wines are set aside to age in oak barrels prior to bottling giving it the additional savor. Still other wines are bottled right away.

Pressing

Pressing is a process of separating juice from the grapes and their skin. Grapes are gradually mashed out. Then the total amount of juice is immediately separated and ready for vinification. Vinification covers all the phases between the coming of grapes in the chai and the transfer of wine into oak barrels. This day, a lot of winemakers apply pressure to increase and determine the amount of tannin extracted from the juice. Pressed juices or wines are generally lower in acid compared to the free-run juice.

Pigeage

This refers to a local French term for traditional process or stomping grapes in an open area or fermentation tanks. Grapes are crushed to the surface and carbon dioxide gases are released. Layer of skins and other solids from grapes are called caps. Caps are the best source of tannins. Traditionally, the caps are mixed into the juice each day by stomping it through the vat.

During the first fermentation, yeast cells are mixed with sugar and they multiply. They produce carbon dioxide also known as alcohol. The percentage of sugar is well calculated. Its density is able to obtain the desired alcohol percentage. After fermenting the alcohol, malolactic fermentation takes place. This is a process in which particular strains of bacteria converts malic acid into milder lactic acid. This kind of fermentation is generally done to immunize desired bacteria thus ensuring wine with softer taste and superior complexity.

Cold and heat stabilization

It is a process used in reducing tartrate crystals, commonly known as potassium bitartrate typically seen in wines. Tartrate crystals are similar to clear sand or grains or wine crystals. Cold and heat stabilization is next in wine making process. Unstable proteins are removed and tartrate crystals (or potassium bitartrate) frequently found in wine is reduced. After the stabilization process, secondary fermentation and bulk aging come next. This is then continued by laboratory tests as well as blending and fining. Preservatives application, filtration, and bottling process come last.

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