Winemaking started as a simple craft millennia ago.
Grapes were harvested, crushed and pressed. The resulting juice was fermented and decanted, then it was consumed.
Soon people started to think of refining this rough-textured, but intoxicating beverage.
Eventually, barrel aging was discovered to render wines smoother ad more complex in taste. In the last 30 years advances in winemaking progressed more than in the previous millennia.
Some are listed below:
Tannin powder – flour, beans of tannin and chips are used during fermentation to add structure, mouth feel and stability of colour to red wines.
Barrels are made suing staves of different provenance.
Bags of chips or chucks of wood wrapped in cheesecloth are used to improve flavour, and longevity of the wine.
Different levels of toasting barrels contribute to a range of flavours, i.e medium toast contributes flavours of hazelnut, and maple syrup. In addition to these sweetness is also contributed.
Medium plus toast imparts coffee, pepper, tobacco, smoke flavours.
Heavy toast contributes roasted, smoky aromas of coffee, and persistence of flavour.
Untoasted American oak imparts vanilla and coconut flavours, light toast spices, brioche, fresh almond and cocoanut.
French is tight-grain and generally contributes the following characteristics in the finished wine – refined and elegant mouth feel, a hint oak to support the flavour of the wine, and “juiciness” that contributes to the appeal.
Untoasted French oak barrels stabilize red colour; light toast vanilla, gentle spices, cloves, cinnamon, roundness, richness; medium toast coffee, and chocolate; medium plus toast – toasty aromas, coffee, caramel, length on the palate.
In France, winemakers use the wood of following forests – Limousin, Troncais, Allier, Vosges, Jupille.
Canadian, Hungarian, Russian (Krasnodar), Nagorno Karabakh (Armenia), Romanian, and Slovenian oak barrels are also used by many winemakers in Portugal, Italy, the U S A, and other countries.
Occasionally, new staves are inserted into old and exhausted barrels to prolong their usable life.
Some winemakers use concrete egg-shaped fomenters; others use polyethylene tanks, yet others prefer portable stainless steel tanks.
American, particularly Californian, winemakers use the services of laboratories to remove a percentage of alcohol from a high-alcohol wine. It has been established that the same wine at different alcoholic strengths tastes different. The optimal point is called the “sweet point”.
Sometimes volatile acidity may be too high ad detectable by taters, and occasionally even by ordinary consumers. Volatile acidity levels are lowered by specialized procedures in laboratories.
Generally young and university-educated winemakers shun wild yeasts normally are on the skin of grapes. They perform unpredictably and occasionally stop fermentation, called “stuck fermentation”. Generally, wild yeasts are killed by the addition of sulphur dioxide. Cultured, i.e specially bred yeasts are more resistant to sulphur dioxide.
Packaging has been transformed, as are enclosures. Traditionally, cork was used, and still prefered by the majority of winemakers. Less expensive wines are enclosed with plastic corks of different formulas.
Some winemakers prefer glass enclosures, and of late many New World wineries (particularly New Zealand and Australia) and some European ones use specially designed, improved screw caps.
In the last few years, tetra pack has gained some popularity. The same can be said for PET (polyethylene threpthalate), but glass is still the most widely used material for packaging.
Tetrapack causes wines to become oxidized, and experts claim tetra pack packaged wines should be consumed within a year.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.