Fermentation is probably the most important stage of the entire wine production process. After grapes are crushed, they are fermented to create the alcohol effect in the wine. The process of fermenting grapes has been evolving over years, thanks to technological advancements that have made it much easier, faster, and more efficient.
In this article, we will discuss some of the key things you need to know about the fermentation of grapes to make wine. Let’s dive in!
What is the role of fermentation in the wine production process?
The main goal of the fermentation stage is to convert crushed grapes into alcohol. Without this stage, we wouldn’t have the alcohol effect in our wines. The grape fermentation process for red wine is slightly different from that of red; that is why these two wines differ in taste and color.
White wine is created by only fermenting grape juice. On the other hand, red wine is created by fermenting whole grape and grape skins. Adding the whole grape and skins is what gives red wine more tannins than white wine. For those who may not, tannins refers to the compound in fruits and foods that has a bitter flavor and leaves a dry sensation on the tongue.
On top of adding the alcohol effect to the wine, fermentation also adds color and aroma to the wine. The significant difference between the aroma and color of white wine and red wine is because their fermentation processes are different.
How the Actual Fermentation Occurs
Breaking down grapes is aided by adding some extra additives, mainly yeast. When yeast is added to the grapes, it breaks down the natural sugars in the grapes to form ethanol and carbon dioxide. The ethanol that we need is kept, and carbon dioxide is left to evaporate into the atmosphere since it is no longer required in the process.
There are several types of yeast used to break down grapes. The two common ones include Wild and cultured yeasts. Wild yeasts, also known as native yeasts, are got from the vineyard where are cultured years are created artificially in the lab by winemakers. Each of these two yeasts has pros and cons that winemakers need to know about before choosing which one to use.
For instance, wild flavors are known for adding a good flavor to the wine. However, they are not reliable and can at times lead to spoilage. On the other hand, cultured years are designed to have specific components, so the outcome of the fermentation can be predicted. There are also different strains of cultured yeasts; each strain leads to a different flavor and taste of the wine produced.
Conditions for Fermentations
Besides adding yeast, there are several conditions that affect the fermentation process. Below are the ideal fermentation conditions;
- Warm temperatures, usually between 25 to 300
- Anaerobic environment (doesn’t require the presence of oxygen)
- Enough room to allow carbon dioxide to evaporate to the atmosphere
Controlling the above conditions can possibly speed up the fermentation process.