Through the Grapevine: How to Make Red Wine

[music] So when the grapes come to Purdue we generally bring them right to the cooler which that’s set at about 26 degrees Fahrenheit. We bring the grapes out of the cooler by variety and we dump them into the disstemmer/crusher. What it does is it knocks the berries off of the stem and then the grapes drop into the crusher. Its purpose it is crush the berry, but not to crush the seed. The difference in red wine making is that we don’t go through the pressing step right after the crush. What we do, is once we take that crushed grapes and juice we actually add that right to a fermenter vat and add the yeast there. We would ferment on the skins and the seeds. The reason you ferment on the skins for reds is most all the color comes from the skins. If you ever pop open a red grape berry you’re going to notice that the pulp is white. But the skins are red. From there you develop a little heavier, little bolder, little more tannic, little bit more mouth-feel. When you take about tannins in red wines we’re actually talking about what I would consider a mouth-feel characteriistic. A lot of time when you feel tannins in your mouth, your tongue kind of sticks to the roof of your mouth. Kind of like you feel a sandpaper effect. Those traits are coming from the skins and the seeds of the grapes. Once we start fermenting on the skins, we have to come in and actually punch the cap, which is the skins start floating to the top and we actually punch that down which does a couple things. It releasessome heat and CO2 in the vat. It also mixes the skins back in to try to enhance the color. We actually ferment our reds at about 70 degrees. What happens at the end of seven to ten days, the skins become saturated. Once you taste the red wine you don’t get that spritz in your mouth. Then you know its time to press off the skins from the seeds. Once the red wine is pressed, we put it back into a carboy and then we put it through malolactic fermentation. We would add just a small amount of bacteria to try to convert that malolactic acid to lactic acid, which is a buttery, creamier style acid. For reds there’s a couple different wine styles. If we were to make a dry red wine we add oak chips. They add some flavor to wines and kind of smooth out the tannins. You would probably let the oak chips set about a month in the carboy. Then from there you would rack. So the oak chips are going to settle, then you would rack the wime away from the chips and the yeast and anything that would be setting on the bottom. From there it’s pretty much just like the whites. We would add sulfites. We add bentonite. We add these two products because they help fine the wine, they help clear it up, settle it up as it’s in the cold cooler. After a wine’s been setting in the cooler for two months then we would bring it out and again, we would rack it. The residue on the bottom would our bentonite, our sparkloid that we added, maybe even a little yeast sediment and then there’s probably going be a lot of tartrate crystals around the vessel. You can filter and then you can go right into the bottle. [music]

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