What is the red wine preparation process like?

Red wine preparation process

The planting of the grape is millenary and the elaboration of the wine is also it. Through the years the winemaking reached a level of complexity and very high quality levels. The process of making Red wine is basic and does not change over the years. It revolves around the fermentation of the grape

Robert Mondavi, Merlot, Napa Valley - Red wine preparation process
Robert Mondavi, Merlot, Napa Valley – Red wine preparation process

The different stages are:

The vintage of Red Wine

The harvest is the moment of its harvest and it will be the one in which the grape shows a state of maturity. It may happen that in the same vineyard with the same vine, there are different ripening times for the grapes. This is mainly due to the type of soil where the grapes are planted.

The sugar level of the grapes is important, since the subsequent fermentation and alcohol level that the wine will present depends on it. Once the best bunches have been selected, their processing begins.

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Zuccardi Piedra Infinita 2018 10 points –  MDZ ARG – Red wine preparation process

Two processes in the production of red wine

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What is Carbonic maceration?

Carbonic maceration is a fermentation process in which the bunches of grapes pass into the tanks whole, without destemming and in an atmosphere very poor in oxygen, less than 1%. This process lasts about seven days and then the grapes are pressed and the wine fermented in a traditional way. It is generally used to make young wines with a very fruity character.

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Wine Glass Party Set for Chardonnay and Rose/Bordeaux

Destemmed and crushed

Separating the bunches from the grapes. They are used in higher quality wines that will undergo a subsequent aging process in oak barrels.
Red wine preparation process -Chateau Lafite
Red wine preparation process -Chateau Lafite

Red wine Destemming

In the destemming process, the grapes are separated from the rest of the bunch, which is known as stalk. This work was done by hand, the normal thing is that nowadays a machine is used: the destemmer. The objective of separating the grapes from the branches and leaves that may be present in the clusters. The branches and leaves provide bitter flavors and aromas to the must during the subsequent maceration.

What is the wine destemmer?

The destemmer is a machine that consists of a perforated tunnel or drum, in which the grape berry is separated from the stem by repeatedly beating the bunch against the pallets coupled perpendicular to a concentric axis or arrow, which is spun by using a motor in the direction

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What is crushed in red wines?

Once the cluster has been shelled, the grape grains are passed through a crushing or treading machine. In this process, the skin of the grape, known as the skin, is broken. In this way, a large part of the must is extracted from the interior of the fruit, and the following maceration process will be facilitated.

Red wine preparation process -Chateau Lafite
Red wine preparation process -Chateau Lafite

The must thus has a greater contact with the skins. The crushing should not be too exhaustive, since it is necessary to avoid breaking the seeds of the grapes, which could add bitterness to the must if they break.

How is the maceration in Red wines?

The grape juice is macerated at a controlled temperature for a few days. This maceration process allows the must to acquire its color, as well as other characteristics, through contact with the pigments (tannins) of the skins. Both the color and the final structure of the wine will be determined by these elements provided by the skin.

Then, in these same tanks and through the yeasts themselves naturally present in the skin of the grapes, the fermentation process begins. It is called alcoholic fermentation since in it, the sugar from the grapes ends up transforming into ethyl alcohol.

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Rabbit Wine Corkscrew with Foil Cutter

How Alcoholic Fermentation occurs in red wine?

In the fermentation process, the carbon dioxide rises to the surface producing a bubbling and dragging the solid parts of the mixture with it. For this effect, what is known as the hat is created on the surface: a solid layer composed of skins, pulp and seeds that float on the must.

To make it easier for the solid parts to remain in contact with the must, the must is extracted from the bottom of the tank to reintroduce it from above, watering the hat: Break the hat manually with the help of a stick to that is mixed with the must is had in the usual way. The objective of this is for the skins to transfer all their properties to the wine.


This process lasts, depending on the type of wine to be made, between 10 and 14 days, and must take place at temperatures not exceeding 26 ºC. As this time passes, the discovery occurs, by means of which the liquid is transferred to another tank.

Pressing on Red wine preparation process

After the discovery, the solid product of the fermentation still contains large quantities of wine, so it is subjected to a pressing to extract all the liquid. This is how the press wine is obtained, with aromas and tannins, which is not mixed with that obtained in the discovery. These two wines will be used to make different products. The solid remains that result or they are used as a by-product in the elaboration of spirits and other products.

Red wine preparation process - Merlot Grape
Red wine preparation process – Merlot Grape

What is Malolactic fermentation?

The wine obtained during the previous steps is subjected to a new fermentation process. Then, malic acid, one of the 3 acids present in wine along with tartaric and citric, is converted into lactic acid. This process reduces the acid character of the wine and makes it much more pleasant to drink.
This second fermentation process takes place over a period of between 15 and 21 days.

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Wine aging

After the two fermentations, another of the most important points in making a wine is the aging or aging process. The wine obtained during the previous steps is introduced into oak barrels.

Red wine preparation process - Barrels
Red wine preparation process – Barrels

The wood for the elaboration of barrels is selected mainly for its properties of hardness, permeability and porosity. This wood is treated with heat to be able to give it shape and when it comes into contact with the fire the interior of the barrels will present different degrees of toasting. Both the type of oak used (French or American), as well as the degree of toasting or the number of times the barrels have been used will modify the character of the wine.

Now is when the wine acquires aromatic notes that during the tasting we can identify as toasted, smoked, vanilla or woody notes. During the stay in the barrel, a series of physical-chemical processes take place, at the same time that the porosity of the wood also allows the micro-oxygenation of the wine. This process in the production of white wine is almost non-existent

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After malolactic fermentation, racking is carried out, a process by which the wine is changed several times between the container, in order to gradually eliminate the solid sediments and aerate the wine.

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The wine is subjected to a clarification process, in which organic substances are used to drag the impurities suspended in the wine to the bottom of the barrel. If deemed necessary, this step can be followed by a subsequent filtering of the wine to more effectively remove these impurities.

How is red wine bottled?

It can be an additional part of the aging period of the wine once it is bottled. During this time the wine will evolve in a controlled atmosphere and will assimilate the oxygen that is inevitably introduced into the bottle when it is closed with the cork.

Red wine preparation process
Red wine preparation process

Aging in the bottle allows the wine to stabilize and the aromas and properties it has acquired in the barrel to find a point of balance and harmony. Depending on the aging times that occur both in the barrel and in the bottle, we will obtain as a final product a aging reserve or great reserve wine.

TSA  Liquids Rules: Traveling with Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages with more than 24% but not more than 70% alcohol are limited in checked bags to 5 liters (1.3 gallons) per passenger and must be in unopened retail packaging. Alcoholic beverages with 24% alcohol or less are not subject to limitations in checked bags.

For carry-on you are limited to containers of 3.4oz or less that can fit comfortably in one quart-sized, clear, zip-top bag. If it’s overflowing from the bag, that isn’t comfortable. See TSA precheck for Boarding control 

For checked bags, there is no limit! I wish this was true when I was in college.  See Medical TSA Diabetes Rules & oxygen