Topic of the Week 9/25/17 - Introductory and Certified

Thank you  for chiming in on Rioja history last week! There is definitely a lot to dig in to regarding French influence in Rioja - Check it out in our Spain Study Guide for more information!

This week: Grape Juice

Before alcoholic fermentation occurs, what are some of the ways a winemaker can influence the flavors of the final wine?

  • Prior to fermentation, a winemaker can influence the flavors of the final product via the methodology of pressing, utilizing either destemming or the whole cluster approach to vinification. Winemakers have another pre-fermentation course of action in choosing to allow a wine to cold soak with its skins and pulp to deepen color and flavor extraction before initiating alcoholic fermentation.

  • In addition to some of the things Nathaniel mentioned, the winemaker can choose which yeast to use for fermentation. They could go with wild yeast or commercial yeast.

  • if we're including pre-harvest decisions, the degree of grape ripeness and whether or not botrytis is allowed
  • In addition to traditional techniques like cold-soaking, post-modern winemaking can do all kinds of wonderful (or horrible, depending your perspective) things to a wine pre-fermentation. Of them though the biggest game changer is probably flash detente, wherein the grapes are heated and rapidly cooled under vacuum, resulting in greater color extraction.

    The flash water that evaporates can also take with it a number of aromas and flavors, including vegetal pyrazine aromas, smoke taint, and more.
  • There is also a process in Italy called Appassimento where the grapes are dried on mats in the sun (more often in ventilated drying chambers these days) prior to pressing and fermentation.