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How Red Wine is Made

Red Wine is made nearly exclusively from black grapes, the colour coming from the skins.

Firstly, the picked bunches of grapes are place through a crusher, which carefully breaks the skins. Depending on the type of wine being made, and the amount of tannin required, the stalks may or may not be discarded at this stage.

Then the grapes are went from the crusher into a fermentation vats with skins. Fermentation can take upto 4 weeks or longer to complete. The higher the temperature, the more colour and tannin is extracted.

To produce soft red wines, whole grapes are fermented in sealed vats. Carbon dioxide trapped in the vat forces the grapes to ferment quicker under pressure and this process can take as small a 5 days.

A wine’s colour and tannin content is dictated partly by the length of time the fermenting must remains in contact with the skins and pips. Unless these are restrained by a mesh, they will be carried to the surface and form a cap. If there is no mesh to hold the skins and pips down, then the vat is flushed so the cap is broken up and the colour leeched out.

The weight of the mass of grapes is sufficient to squeeze the fermented juice out of grapes, and then this is allowed tio run into casks as free-run wine.

The rest of the bulk goes into a press and is crushed to produce a highly tannic wine. This may be added to the free-run wine to add structure to the blend.
The wine from both vat and press are mixed and transferred to tanks or barrels where a second fermentation will occur.

‘Fine wine’ nearly always spends at least a year in barrels, large or small. The wine is fined with egg-white, which drags suspended yeast and other solids in the wine downwards before being racked, filtered, and bottled.

Finally, time spent in the bottle is vital, but not every wine needs it. A complex (and expensive) bottle of red wine will nearly certainly benefit from bottle ageing, as will white wine with both body and high enough acidity. Simple wines, intended for prompt drinking, will lose colour and freshness if left for too long.

Jason Hulott is Editor of UK Wine Online. UK Wine Online is an independent source for

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