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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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« Portland, Day One | Main | Groovy »
Wednesday
Jul272011

Winemaking: The 50,000-Foot View

For our first wine-blogging Wednesday, let’s start at the beginning.

Wine is a fermented beverage made from the juice of grapes. You can make it from all sorts of different grapes1, but almost all commercially produced wine comes from Vitus vinifera, the European wine grape.

Grapes are perennials, and grape vines produce a single crop of grapes each year. They bud in the spring; produce that year’s stalks, leaves, and clusters; and lose their leaves after harvest in the fall. Each vine produces multiple clusters, though vineyards managers do prune bunches, sometimes very aggressively.

Once the grapes are picked, they are crushed to get the juice out. The juice contains sugar, which means it can be fermented. During fermentation, yeasts2 eat the sugar and produce two important by-products: alcohol and carbon dioxide. The fermentation is done in containers that let the carbon dioxide escape, but the alcohol stays behind. With that step complete, the grape juice is now wine.

Some wines will also undergo what’s called a secondary fermentation, where a bacteria transforms one kind of acid in the wine into another kind. Depending on the wine-making style, the wine is either held for a while in stainless steel tanks or aged in barrels. For how long? It depends. When it’s done, it’s bottled, labeled, held for a little while3, and then sold. Eventually the bottle gets opened, the contents are poured into glasses, and the wine is drunk.

That’s the basics. Any questions so far?




fn1. Grapes a very prone to genetic mutation, so there a numerous grape species, hundreds of grape varietals, and thousands of clones.

2 Similar to the ones that make bread.

3 How long? Again it, depends.




Update

Fitness: Ran 2.5 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 400 words, 364 seven-day average, 267 average, 31769 total, 731 to go for the week; 14 day streak

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