3INTRODUCTIONThis module is all about sparkling and white wines and how they are made. In this module, we will introduce and explain the production and the various sparkling wine and Champagne styles. We will also give you a brief overview of white winemaking.
4MODULE OBJECTIVES In this module you will learn: Sparkling wine and Champagne stylesMethods used to make white wines
6WHAT IS SPARKLING WINE?By definition, sparkling wine contains residual carbon dioxide left over from the initial or a secondary fermentation.As you might remember from Module 1, carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a natural by-product of fermentation. Most still table wines have little, if any, CO2. That’s because the CO2 was allowed to dissipate into the air during or after fermentation. However, some very young white wines will retain a bit of CO2 giving them a delightful and subtle spritz.The art of making champagne and sparkling wine is all about, creating a second fermentation in the bottle, trapping those tiny little bubbles in the bottle so you can enjoy them in the glass. Cheers!
7CHAMPAGNE VERSUS SPARKLING WINE The first thing to remember about sparkling wines is that not all of them are created equal. Though all Champagne is sparkling wine not all sparkling wine is Champagne! Only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France may be legally called Champagne.
8SPARKLING WINES ARE BLENDS The next thing to remember about sparkling wine is that, unlike most other wines, practically all the best sparklers are made from blends of different grape varieties. The philosophy of the sum is greater than the individual parts is definitely the name of the game when making fine sparkling wines. What’s also important to know is that not all grapes work well with every method of making sparkling wines. Some grape varieties, such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, work best with the classic method, those with secondary fermentation in the bottle, while other grapes work better with one of the other winemaking methods.
9GRAPE VARIETIES FOR SPARKLING WINE The primary grapes used in making the best sparkling wines and Champagnes are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir — and in the case of Champagne another red grape called Pinot Meunier. Other secondary grapes used to make non-Champagne sparkling wines include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Muscat — and many, many others depending on the specific location where the grapes are grown and the wine is made.Chardonnay grapes
10CLASSIC METHOD: PRODUCTION METHOD The entire process starts with the harvesting of grapes to make the base wines. Unlike fruit for regular still table wines, the grapes for sparkling wine are generally harvested earlier in the season. That’s because the base wines for sparkling wine must be light in body, lower in alcohol, and very high in acidity. The grapes are picked then pressed quickly and gently to avoid oxidation and any color from the skins. The classic method involves not one, but two separate and distinct fermentations. And it’s the second fermentation, especially when it is done in the bottle, that produces all those wonderful little bubbles that make sparkling wine what it is.
11DRYNESS/SWEETNESS LEVELS The dosage (a mixture of wine & sugar) added just before bottling determines the dryness/sweetness level of the sparkling wine or Champagne. Most wines are labeled simply as “brut,” which is fairly dry. However, there are sweeter sparkling wines to be found. Here’s a list of styles in ascending level of sweetness: Brut Nature: bone dry. Also called Extra Brut, Brut Sauvage, or other proprietary names. Brut: dry Extra Dry: off-dry Sec: slightly sweet Demi Sec: sweet Doux: very sweet
12SPARKLING WINE & CHAMPAGNE STYLES Brut Non-Vintage: A blend based on several vintages made in a consistent “House Style”Vintage: A Champagne or sparkling wine from a single year. Vintage Champagnes or sparkling wines are made in outstanding years from superior vineyards.
13CHAMPAGNE STYLES IIRosé: A pink Champagne or sparkling wine produced either by leaving the skins in contact with the must during fermentation, or blending white wine (Chardonnay) and red wine (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) together.Blanc de Blancs: A Champagne or sparkling wine made from white grapes only (usually Chardonnay).
14CHAMPAGNE STYLES IIIBlanc de Noirs: A Champagne or sparkling wine produced from “black grapes” such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Prestige Cuvée: The finest Champagnes made only in exceptional vintages. Moët et Chandon’s Cuvée Dom Perignon and Roederer’s Cristal are two of the most well-known Prestige Cuvée Champagnes.
16HARVESTWhite wine grapes are picked in the earlier stages of the harvest. Unlike red grapes where longer “hang time” on the vine is needed to mature the flavors and tannins, white grapes are harvested when the perfect balance of ripe fruit and natural acidity is achieved.Many wineries harvest white grape varieties at night or early in the morning to retain as much natural freshness as possible. It’s also crucial not to crush or bruise the grapes which would cause oxidation and bitter flavors in the juice.
17CRUSHThe juice is obtained by placing whole bunches of grapes into a crusher-destemmer, which removes the stems. The whole clusters may also be placed directly into the press, stems and all. Unlike red wine which relies on skin contact to supply color and tannins, the juice for white wine is separated off the skins immediately after going through the crusher-destemmer to avoid any oxidation or bitter flavors. A winemaker may choose to chill the grapes before crushing or pressing to retain the grapes natural freshness and delicate flavors. The more common practice is to chill the juice after pressing and before fermentation.
18PRESSINGMost modern wineries use bladder presses instead of the more traditional basket presses. A bladder press is a closed cylindrical tank with an inflatable bladder that gently presses the grapes against a screen as it inflates without crushing the seeds or stems. Think of a slowly inflating balloon and you’ll get the idea of a bladder press.
19SETTLING THE JUICEOnce pressed the juice is transferred to a settling tank so that it can clarify. The particles suspended in the juice are, for the most part, grape pulp. Many winemakers today speed up the settling process by filtering the juice or using a centrifuge. Once settled the juice is ready for fermentation.
20FERMENTATION: ADDING YEAST As with red wine, white wine will ferment on its own “native” yeasts — the yeasts that develop naturally on the grapes in the vineyard. Native yeast fermentation has been used throughout history to make wine and is still used by many winemakers today. The only potential drawbacks to native yeast fermentation are the unpredictability of the fermentation (many competing strains of yeast working at the same time) and stuck — or stopped — fermentations. Stuck fermentations will leave unfermented residual sugars or sweetness and in most wines this is not desirable. Many winemakers choose to add a cultured yeast to achieve a more controlled fermentation and to avoid stuck fermentations.
21FERMENTATIONThe goal in fermenting white wine is to preserve the freshness and natural delicacy of fruit of the grape. To achieve this goal winemakers ferment white wines at a much cooler temperature than red wines: 50° to 65° vs. 75° to 85° in red wines.
22STAINLESS STEEL FERMENTATION Many white wines are fermented in large stainless steel tanks. These tanks are often wrapped on the outside with jackets filled with glycol, a cooling agent that helps to control the fermentation temperature. Fermenting in stainless steel captures all the natural pure fruit flavors of the wine.
23BARREL FERMENTATIONSome white wines, most notably Chardonnay, are fermented in smaller 55–60 gallon oak barrels. These barrels are filled only ¾ full so as to not foam over. In barrel fermentation the yeasts help to draw out toasty vanilla notes from the wood. The barrels also contribute a creamy texture to the young wine. Barrel fermentation is definitely not for delicate white grape varieties such as Riesling.
24BARREL AGINGOnce the wine is cold stabilized the winemaker may choose to age the wine further in oak barrels. Oak aging can dramatically alter the natural fruit flavors of white wine. Thus whites are aged for less time in oak compared to red wines. If white wine is aged too long in wood it loses its natural fruit and takes on too much wood character — and tannin.
25REVIEW You should now have a good understanding of: Sparkling wine and Champagne stylesMethods used to make white wines
27INTRODUCTIONFor many, red wines are the greatest wines created. In this module Part 1 is all about red wines and how they are made.Part 2 covers methods used to make different kinds of dessert wines. We will also describe processes and terms such as maceration, botrytis, late-harvest, fortification and more.
28MODULE OBJECTIVES In this module you will learn: Methods used to make red winesMethods used to make different kinds of dessert winesProcesses and terms such as maceration, botrytis, late-harvest, fortification, and more
30HARVESTRed wine grapes are picked during the mid and later stages of the harvest. In harvesting white grapes, the major concern is preserving as much of the vibrant fresh fruit flavors as possible. With red grapes longer “hang time” on the vine is needed to mature the flavors and tannins. Red grapes are harvested only when the perfect balance of ripe fruit and natural acidity is achieved — and when the all important tannins, in the seeds and grape skins, have matured.
31CRUSHRipe bunches of grapes are hand-harvested (or machine harvested in many cases) and placed in small plastic bins then taken to the winery. At the winery the grapes are placed on a sorting table and any unripe or moldy grapes or leaves are removed. The bunches of grapes then travel by conveyor belt to the crusher-destemmer, pictured above. As with white grapes, juice is obtained by placing whole bunches of grapes into a crusher-destemmer, which crushes the grapes and, as the name implies, removes the stems.
32ADDING YEASTWhite & red grape must (“must” is the unfermented juice, skins and seeds of grapes) will naturally ferment on its own vineyard yeasts — the yeasts that develop naturally on the grapes in the vineyard. Vineyard yeast fermentation has been used throughout history to make wine and is still used by many winemakers today. As with white wines, a potential drawback to using vineyard yeast fermentation is the unpredictability of the fermentation due to many competing strains of yeast working at the same time. One can also have stuck — or stopped — fermentations leaving residual unfermented sugar which most the time is not desired. Many winemakers choose to add a cultured yeast to achieve a more controlled fermentation and to avoid stuck fermentations.
33TANNINTannin, or tannic acid, is one of the most vital components of red wine. Tannin is derived from the skins and seeds of the grape as well as from the barrels that are often used to age the wine. Tannin is a valuable preservative that gives any red wine the potential to age. It also provides the structure that gives red wine balance. Too little tannin and the wine will lack character and structure. However, too much tannin will render a wine harsh, bitter, and undrinkable. Various red wines have different levels of tannin. A Beaujolais has low tannins while a young Cabernet Sauvignon may have very high tannins. Tannin tastes bitter and can have a gritty, or astringent, sensation on the back of the tongue if present in high quantities.
34FERMENTATIONUnlike white wine fermentation, the goal in fermenting red wine is to extract color, flavors, and tannins from the pulp, seeds (and sometimes stems), of the grapes. To achieve these goals winemakers ferment red wines at warmer temperatures than white wines; 75° to 85° vs. 50° to 65°. Most red wines are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Some red wines are fermented in large, upright oak barrels.
35THE CAPAs the must ferments, the carbon dioxide given off forces the skins and pulp to form a mass on the top which is called the cap. The cap protects the fermenting must against oxidation. The cap will periodically be punched down or pumped over the fermenting must to; increase color from the skins, release captured carbon dioxide and prevent it from drying out.
36COLOR & MACERATIONBelieve it or not, the juice of practically all red wine grapes is clear! The color in red wine is derived from the grape skins. Thus it is critical for the juice to spend time in contact with the skins. This process is called maceration. Maceration, or skin-contact, takes place either before fermentation starts or after fermentation has been completed. Maceration not only gives the wine color. It also adds the all important tannins providing structure and aging potential.
37MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION After maceration the young red wine must be put through malolactic fermentation (or ML) — the bacterial process that converts the tart malic acids to softer lactic acid. White ML is a winemaking option for white wines, all red wines must go through ML or else they would be undrinkable.
38PRESSING & PRESS WINEAfter malolactic fermentation is complete the young wine is drawn off the skins, seeds, and stems then transferred into another container. The remaining skins, seeds, and stems are then pressed. The resulting “press wine” is quite tannic, even astringent, and is kept separate from the from the free-run wine. A portion of the press wine is usually added back into the free run wine to add tannin and structure to the finished wine.
39BARREL AGINGRacking is the term used for transfering wine from one container to another. Once the young red wine has been racked off the lees (dead yeast cells) and pressed, it is usually transferred into oak barrels to age. Unlike white wine, oak-aging is desirable for most red wines. Oak aging adds to the texture, tannic structure, and complexity of the finished wine. Red wines are aged between six and 24 months in oak. During that time some evaporation will occur and the barrels must be topped up to prevent oxidation and other problems. The young red wine will also be occasionally racked off its sediment into a new barrel to aerate it and prevent harmful compounds and off aromas from forming.
40FINING & FILTRATIONFining and filtration are the last steps before the young red wine is bottled. Fining red wine is usually accomplished by adding egg whites to the wine in barrel (six per barrel). The egg whites clarify the wine by coagulating with the grape solids as they drift to the bottom of the barrels. The wine is then filtered for further clarity and to also removed residual yeasts or any microbes that could cause the wine to spoil.
41BOTTLINGThe final stage of the winemaking process is bottling. Before bottling the winemaker may choose to make a final blend. Modern bottling lines are now universally used to prevent oxidation in the wine and to ensure consistency in the corking and labeling. After bottling, some winemakers may choose to further age the young red wine before release. Et voilá! The finished product.
42RED WINE MAKING REVIEW Harvest Pre-fermentation Stemming Ô Crushing Ô Settling Ô MacerationFermentation Malolactic fermentation Ô PressingPost-fermentation Aging Ô Racking Ô Fining Ô Filtering Ô Bottling
44DESSERT WINESDessert wines generally fall into two distinct categories:Late-Harvest WinesFortified Wines
45LATE HARVEST WINESAs the name implies, late-harvest dessert wines are made from grapes left on the vines long after fruit for the regular harvest has been picked. Late-harvest grapes are very ripe and contain much higher levels of grape sugar than grapes destined to become dry table wines. The key for the winemaker is to find the best quality late-harvest grapes for their wine. And believe or not, the best grapes for dessert wines may not always be the prettiest!
46GRAPES FOR LATE HARVEST WINES Though it is theoretically possible to make late-harvest dessert wine out of any grape, not all of them work — or even taste good.White grapes generally do well for making late-harvest dessert wines; however, certain red grapes work as well.Grapes commonly used for late-harvest wine:White grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and MuscatRed grapes: Zinfandel, Grenache, Touriga Nacional, and others
47BOTRYTISA majority of the world’s best late- harvest dessert wines are made from grapes affected by botrytis (boe-try-tis). Botrytis is a mold that develops under certain conditions during autumn — foggy mornings followed by warm sunny afternoons. When botrytis forms in the vineyard the spores of the mold pierce the grape skins dehydrating the grapes. Botrytis then concentrates the grape sugars, decreases the overall acidity, and changes flavors in a very delightful way. However, botrytis does not develop uniformly and several trips through the vineyard are required to complete harvest. The process is very labor-intensive as the grapes must be picked individually. Thus it is no surprise that botrytis dessert wines are some of the most expensive to be found.
48FORTIFIED DESSERT WINES Fortified wines are the second major category of dessert wines. The term “fortified” means to make stronger, in this case by the addition of neutral grape alcohol, or brandy. The brandy used to make fortified wines has an alcohol content of approximately 77%, or 154-proof — roughly twice the alcohol content of most hard liquor.
49FORTIFIED WINE STYLESFortified wines are made in both dry and sweet styles. Regardless of the level of dryness/sweetness, all fortified wines are intensely flavored and contain between 15% to 20% alcohol. Many fortified dessert wines are aged in oak before bottling. Some wines, such as tawny ports, may spend decades in oak, affecting their color, flavor, and texture. Other fortified wines are bottled sweet without any oak aging whatsoever. Some fortified dessert wines have the potential to age for decades (even centuries!) because of the magic combination of high alcohol level, high residual sugar content, and oxidative winemaking techniques.
50WELL-KNOWN FORTIFIED WINES Port (Portugal), Sherry (Spain), and Madeira (Portuguese island of Madeira) are the three most well-known fortified wines. However, fortified wines are made throughout the wine world. Some sherries and Madeiras are dry and not considered dessert wines. These dry wines are still considered fortified wines. In the case of sweet fortified wines, neutral grape spirits are added to the must during fermentation killing the yeasts, stopping the fermentation and leaving residual sugar in the wine.
51REVIEW You should now have a good understanding of: Methods used to make red winesMethods used to make different kinds of dessert winesProcesses and terms such as maceration, botrytis, late-harvest, fortification and more