2. December 2013 23:07
The process of producing wine has remained much the same throughout the years, though new technologies have helped streamline the process and increase wine output.
Wine-making can be divided into four distinct steps: harvesting and crushing grapes, fermenting must, aging the wine, and packaging. And with wine, timing is everything.
Harvesting and Crushing Grapes
Vineyardists inspect sample clusters of wine grapes with a refractometer to determine if the grapes are ready to be picked. The refractometer is a small, hand-held device that measures the amount of sugar in the grapes. If grapes are ready to be picked, a mechanical harvester gathers and funnels them into a field hopper, or mobile storage container. Some mechanical harvesters have grape crushers mounted on them, allowing vineyard workers to gather grapes and press them at the same time. If the harvester doesn't have a grape crusher, the field hoppers are transported to the winery, where they are unloaded into a crusher-stemmer machine. The grapes are crushed and the stems are removed, leaving liquid must that flows either into a stainless steel fermentation tank or a wooden vat.
Fermenting the Must
For white wine, grape skins are separated from the must by filters or centrifuges before the must undergoes fermentation. For red wine, the whole crushed grape, including the skin, goes into the fermentation tank or vat. The pigment in the grape skins give red wine its color. The amount of time the skins are left in the tank or vat determines how dark or light the color will be. For rose, the skins only stay in the tank or vat for a short time before they are filtered out.
Wild yeast are fed into the tank or vat to turn the sugar in the must into alcohol. The wine must ferments in the tank or vat for approximately seven to fourteen days, depending on the type of wine being produced.
Aging the Wine
The next steps to making wine are storing, filtering, and properly aging. After primary fermentation, certain wines (mainly reds) will be crushed again and pumped into another tank where it will undergo a secondary fermentation for approximately three to seven days.
The wine is then transferred into settling (racking) tanks or vats, remaining there for one to two months. Certain wines are then pumped into a second settling tank where the liquid remains for another two to three months. The weighty unwanted debris (remaining stem pieces, for example) will fall to the bottom of the tank.
Once the settling process is complete, the wine passes through a number of filters or centrifuges. After filtering, wine is aged in stainless steel tanks or wooden vats. White and rose wines may age for a year to four years, or far less than a year. Red wines may age for seven to ten years. Most large wineries age their wine in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks that are above ground, while smaller wineries may still store their wine in wooden barrels in damp wine cellars. The wine is then filtered one last time to remove unwanted sediment.
The wine is now ready to be bottled, corked, sealed, crated, labeled, and shipped to distributors.
2. December 2013 22:58
Champagne was pioneered in the late seventeenth century by Benedictine cellar master Dom Pierre Pérignon at the Abbey d'Hautvilliers. Sparkling wines from other regions, even when made in the same way, cannot legally be called Champagne, but are known as being made by the méthode champenoise. True Champagne comes only from the Champagne region in northeast France. Most countries bow to this tradition by calling their sparkling wines by other names, such as spumante or Prosecco in Italy, Sekt in Germany and vin mousseux in other regions of France. Only in America do some wineries refer to their bubbling wine as "Champagne."
French Champagne is usually made from a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir or pinot blanc grapes. California "Champagnes" generally use the same varieties, while those from New York are more often made from the pressings of catawba and delaware grapes. The juice from these grapes is initially fermented in stainless-steel vats. A mixture of wine, sugar, and yeast is added, and it is then transferred to pressure tanks for a second fermentation that yields carbon dioxide and effervescence. It is chilled, sweetened, bottled, and left to mature.
Good Champagne is expensive, not only because it's made with premium grapes, but also because it's made by the méthode champenoise, a traditional method that requires the second fermentation in the bottle.
Champagnes can range in color from pale gold to apricot blush. Their flavors can range from toasty to yeasty and from dry to sweet. A sugar-wine mixture called a "dosage," added just before final corking determines how sweet Champagne will be.
The label indicates the level of sweetness: brut (bone dry to almost dry-less than 1.5 percent sugar); extra sec or extra dry (slightly sweeter-1.2 to 2 percent sugar); sec (medium sweet-1.7 to 3.5 percent sugar); demi-sec (sweet-3.3 to 5 percent sugar); and doux (very sweet-over 5 percent sugar). The last two are considered dessert wines.
11. September 2012 15:04
The 9th Annual Spirits of Mexico Grand Tasting Event is this Saturday, Sept 15th!
Enter McCoy Garden Courtyard in San Diego, CA to be greeted with a Herradura Tequila cocktail. You’ll have the opportunity to taste up to 200 varietals of agave spirits, including tequila, mezcal, sotol, bacanora, raicilla, liqueurs and more! Meet agave aficionados, master distillers and Emmy-Award Winning Mark DeCarlo, who is autographing his book A Fork on the Road: 400 Cities 1 Stomach. Enjoy tapas from Casa de Reyes, enter a silent auction to bid on fine spirits and attend education seminars with industry experts, like Robert Plotkin.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Spirits of Mexico Festival page.