How to make red wine?

Red wine
Red wine


How to make red wine? After centuries of elaboration of this famous nectar, the techniques have evolved. Although wine is produced in many different countries, the creative technique remains largely the same.

We will see here the basis of this famous question: how to make red wine?

We will therefore focus on red wine but not worry about white wine, you can discover how to make white wine here:

So let’s start with the first step:

The grape selection:

First of all, it is obviously necessary to choose the variety of grapes that one wishes to cultivate. This very first step is really important because it is the choice of grapes that will greatly define the taste of the wine. The variety of a grape is called grape variety.

There are thousands of grape varieties. The choice may seem difficult at first, but in reality, a large majority of grape varieties are not used to make wine, because the wines would be less good. For example, in France, 210 grape varieties are used, of which only 10 represent 70% of the vines planted.

Once the variety is planted and grown, it offers the famous grapes and leaves room for harvest.

Harvest :

Vendange à la machine
Machine harvesting

Harvesting is simply harvesting grapes. However, details are to be taken into account:

The date of the harvest is not chosen at random; too soon, the grapes could be too sour and lack of sugar; too late, they could be too sweet and lack the acidity needed for a good wine.

The weather sometimes makes whims; the gel can destroy the vines, a very heavy rain can gorge the grapes of water, not to mention the diseases that can appear because of the climate!

All the grapes do not ripen at the same speed; it is therefore necessary to spend several times in the rows of vines to harvest at the right time.

The harvest is done either by hand or machine. In hand, the selection of grapes will be more careful but obviously longer. While in the machine, it will save time and money but it will sort the grapes on a sorting table, not to mention that we damage the vineyard and all the land is not passable by the machines.

Once the harvest is over and the grapes are selected, we can finally make our wine!

How to make red wine

So we have in the order of creation:

I. De-stemmed and crushed

In this first step, the grapes are separated from their grapes, in order not to add an unpalatable and herbaceous taste to the wine. Then, we crowd it (we “break” the grains to release a little juice).

II. Maceration

We let all the grapes macerate in their juice for a few days. The contact of the juice with the skins of the grape gives it its color.

III. Pigeage or pumping


During maceration, solids (skin and seeds) rise to the surface and form a thick, solid hat. It is therefore “broken” to give the juice more color, tannin and taste. To do so, we can break it with a big stick and push it into the juice (we’re talking about pigeage), or simply raise the juice to water the hat and thus make it flow (we talk about “remontage”).

IV. Alcoholic fermentation

Yeast is added to the juice, which is mixed with the sugar of the juice, will create the alcohol! Yeasts are naturally present in the grapes, but some winemakers still prefer to add their own yeast, a matter of taste and safety. This stage lasts about ten days.

V. Racking

Wine and marc (all deposits: pips, skins …) are separated. We obtain wine called wine of gout. We will then press the marc soaked with wine to recover the wine press (this wine will be more tannic and colorful than the other).

VI. Blending

In this step, we can mix the different grape varieties that we fermented. We can also mix the wine of gout and the press wine for more homogeneity.

VII. Aging

Finally, the wine will be placed in barrels or in vats to raise it. Raising a wine simply means letting it sit for a few months so that the aromas and structure of the wine stabilize. A wine aged longer (more than one year) will generally give wines of guard.

Elevage du vin en fût et en cuve
Elevage du vin en fût et en cuve

VIII. Sulfitage, collage, filtration…

From that moment on, each château has more or less its method. One can, for example, add sulfur to the wine (sulfitage) to better preserve it by avoiding oxidation. The winemaker can also make a “collage”, ie used a substance of protein origin like egg white, which can filter the wine, make it more brilliant. It can also be filtered, simply, to remove the last residues.

IX. Wine bottling

We put wine in the bottle. From this moment on, you can either put the bottle on sale or continue to aging it in the bottle.

This method explained here is a great guideline for understanding how to make red wine. Each château will have its own elaboration giving its wine an identity of its own. We can therefore find in some areas additional steps, or even steps in less. Just as the order of certain stages may vary in some châteaux.

In short, how to make red wine

Red wine is an alcohol produced from red (or black) grapes. We remove the stalk to have only the grains. Then the juice, the skin, the seeds and the flesh of the grapes are macerated in fermentation tanks for a few days. The solids are separated from the wine and then aged in barrels or vats for a few months; to develop flavors and tannins. Finally we put the wine in the bottle, it is ready to be tasted!

Discover how to taste the wines right here:

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