What a stupid question. We all know that it’s grapes. But how does it get from grapes to wine? Put simply it is the fermented juice of grapes. Any fruit juice can be fermented to give wine, but the main one you see is grape juice. But these grapes aren’t the same kind you can buy at Tesco. Those are table grapes, we want wine grapes!
Table grapes are bigger, generally seedless and less sweet. Supermarkets don’t generally stock the wine variety as no one really uses them for anything.
So we’ve got our grapes growing on a vine, what next? Pickers (or machines) pick the grapes, and then they are sorted. You don’t want bad or rotten grapes in your wine so you pull them out. The grapes then get put into a fermenting container, which is where one of the biggest actions happens.
To make red wine you just toss the grape in, skin and all. To make white wine, the grapes are pressed, removing the juices from the skin before the fermentation. After fermentation red wine is pressed, to separate it from the skin. The wine is then put into oak barrels or steel casks to mature, often in quantities around 200 L.
The type of barrel used to store the wine can have an impact on its flavour. While a steel cask won’t change the flavour much, an oak matured wine can have tastes of oak (earthiness) added to it.
Finally, when the winemaker thinks it’s good, they bottle the wine, and send it away, which ends up in the supermarkets for us to buy and drink it.
This was a pretty brief overview, mentioning things like fermentation and such and not really delving into it too much, but we’re taking it simply as it’s still the start and we don’t want to think too much about it as we learn the overall process.
Till tomorrow where there’s facts, history and a review of a Merlot!