Are you an aspiring winemaker? When you’re just getting started, you might not fully understand the importance and effects of temperature control in winemaking in Eugene, OR. When it comes to wine, taking it slow is the key to a great product. Alcohol ferments faster at higher temperatures, but for great flavor and finish, it’s best to ferment at lower temperatures. That’s where winery chillers come in—they allow the winemaker to precisely control the temperature inside the fermentation vessel so the product is consistent and delicious.
A winemaking overview
To understand the necessity of temperature control, it’s best to first understand how wine is made:
- Harvesting: Obviously, to make wine you need grapes—and it’s important to harvest them at just the right time, so they have the appropriate amount of sugars, acids and tannins.
- Pressing: Next, the grapes need to be crushed or pressed to release the juice and burst the grape skins, which will allow fermentation to take place. This is usually done with mechanical presses today.
- Fermentation: Fermentation will naturally begin in around six to 12 hours after pressing, using the wild yeast in the air. However, most winemakers prefer to add their own yeast in precise amounts. They may decide to inoculate the grapes by killing off the natural yeast and adding their own. Once the yeast is under control, fermentation will begin converting all the natural sugars in the grapes to alcohol, and won’t stop until the process is complete. Fermentation can take as little as 10 days or continue for a longer period of time—the temperature has a big impact on the final product, alcohol content and flavor, as well as how long it takes to finish.
- Clarification: Next, winemakers remove the sediment from the wine in a process called clarification. They may use a filter or add compounds like egg whites to help remove the waste product left behind.
- Aging and bottling: Finally, the wine is left to age and bottle (and then perhaps age again, depending on the variety). Aging also requires certain temperatures, but rarely needs to be as precise as the fermentation process.
Why precise temperatures are necessary for great wine
- Fermentation generates heat: Fermentation is an exothermic process. As the yeast feeds on the sugar and converts it to alcohol, heat is generated. As you know, the higher the temperature, the faster the process—but for superior flavor, most wines require temperature control during fermentation.
- The ideal temperature varies by wine type: White wines need to be kept at 40 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, while reds can ferment at 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps preserve the depth of flavor and body present in great wines.
- Extracts better color and tannins: Temperature control in winemaking in Eugene, OR also affects how much color is extracted from the grape skins, and the tannins overall—the precise amounts can vary, depending on the wine type.
For winery chillers and all things refrigeration related, American Refrigeration Inc. has you covered. Call us today to learn more about our winery chillers or schedule service and repair.