Wine Tips & Tricks

How is White Wine Made

How is White Wine Made?

Did you know that white wine can be made 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 very simple, but the process can vary greatly depending on who makes the wine and what techniques they prefer to use. Use the visual aid below as a baseline to how all white wines are made!


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.

Part 2: Fermenting Grape Juice into Wine

White wines are typically fermented 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.


Why Some White Wines Taste “Creamy”

After the wine is fermented, an additional fermentation called Malo-Lactic Fermentation (MLF) will increase the texture of white wine to oily or creamy. MLF alters the type of acid in a wine (some acids taste tart and some acids taste smooth like milk). Starting a malolactic fermentation involves a different kind of yeast that gobbles up malic acid and poops out lactic acid. If you want a rounder, more creamy-feeling wine, look for a wine that has undergone MLF
See all the Different Types of Wine


Part 4: Filtering and Bottling

White wines are almost always filtered before bottling. If you make white wine at home, often it will 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 have to add more sulphites to white wines than red wines.

About the Artist: 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.

About Madeline Puckette

I'm a certified sommelier and creator of the NYT Bestseller, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine. Find me out there in the wine world @WineFolly