Odes to the old vines last post by Greg B. Carlstrom, Darla Hoffmann, Jeremy Eubanks, CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS and Robert Gomez. Great reference to the excellent article written by Kelli White!
This week: Fermentation temperature
What are the typical ranges for white wines? What about red? What purpose does each range serve?
This is a juicy topic!
I'm many ways S. cerevisiae are a lot like us in terms of temperature preference. That being said, different yeast strains vary in their optimal temperature range. I like to think of this again as people, some people can't stand cold (me) while others live for it (crazy people).
These days, winemakers have a great deal of control in regards to temperature which is one of the most influential aspects of fermentation.
In general, cooler temperatures around 10-20 ºC bring about a fresh and fruity result as is preferred for many white wine styles. This range can also prolong a fermentation building complexity and increasing fruity esters and flavors. Too cold however and the fermentation may slow to a stop.
In red wines, temperatures between 24 and 27 ºC are generally considered standard (Jackson). If a wine is fermenting on its skins, as in red wine production, a higher temperature can aid in extracting flavor from these skins. Another thing to consider is the vessel in which the must is fermenting. The larger the vessel, the higher potential temperature increase once fermentation commences. Get a ferment too high and yeast will become stressed producing reductive and off flavors.
Good mention about yeast strains being different. Purely anecdotal, I’ve noticed that a lot of ambient yeast ferments never generate as much heat as commercial, pitched yeast, and can usually tell when one yeast dies off and another (likely commercial yeast that are ambient in the cellar) takes over. The temp and aromas both make a large switch at that point.