Ever wonder how white wine is made? Did you know that vintners can make white wine with red or white grapes? The major difference between making red wine and white wine is that the juice is fermented without the grape’s skins when making white wine. See how white wine is produced with an easy-to-understand infographic.
The basic concept behind winemaking is straightforward, but it can vary greatly depending on who makes the wine and what techniques they prefer to use. Use the visual aid below as a baseline for producing white wines!
Part 1: Crush Grapes and Collect Juice
White wine can be made with either white or red grapes. The major difference between white and red wine is that white wines are fermented without the grape skins. First, the grapes are pressed off the skins, and the sweet grape juice is collected in vats to be fermented into wine.
- Ever heard of White Zinfandel? White wine made with red grapes: White Pinot Noir
- Find out what happens to winery waste
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Part 2: Fermenting Grape Juice into Wine
Typically, White wines ferment much cooler than red wines. This is to preserve the fresh fruity flavors. During this time the 2 parts sugar ferments into 1 part alcohol. So, if you start with 2 Brix of sugar, you’ll get a 1% ABV wine. The higher the sugar content of the juice, the higher the resulting alcohol level. White wines are also much more susceptible to discoloration (e.g., turn yellow-brown) and don’t commonly cellar as long as red wines.
Part 3: Oaky Wine and MLF
Oaking white wine adds vanilla flavors. MLF adds a creaminess to white wine. These 2 processes take time and cost extra money for the winery, that’s why oaky wines tend to be more expensive.
- Have you tried an oaky White Bordeaux from Pessac-Leognan?
Why Some White Wines Taste “Creamy”
After the wine is fermented, an additional fermentation (actually technically, it’s a microbial metabolism) called Malo-Lactic Fermentation (MLF). MLF makes white wines taste more oily or creamy. What’s happening is the MLF alters the type of acid in a wine. Read more about malo here.
Part 4: Filtering and Bottling
Often, white wines are filtered before bottling. If you make white wine at home, it will often end up being cloudy. This is because it hasn’t been filtered. Believe it or not, white wines tend to be more unstable than red wines, and usually winemakers may have to add more sulphites to white wines than red wines.
Jelle De Roeck works as an architect at his own office and teaches Architecture and Design at the University of Leuven, Belgium. In 2011, he started to follow his evergrowing passion for wine and wanted to know all about it. Instead of taking complicated wine courses, he started blogging about his wine discoveries based on specific themes.