L'impact des techniques de vinification sur le goût du vin

The impact of winemaking techniques on the taste of wine

Wine is probably the oldest drink produced by man in the entire world. For thousands of years, winemaking has evolved very little, and ancestral techniques are passed down from generation to generation, varying slightly depending on the winegrowers, regions and types of wine. So how can we explain that each vintage has such unique characteristics? It is clear that the winemaking technique has an impact on the taste of the wine .

How does the winemaking method influence the taste of the wine?

Throughout the winemaking process, each step has an influence on the final taste of the wine. From the choice of grape varieties to the choice of techniques used, including the selection of yeasts and other inputs used, each decision directly impacts the final result by modifying the development of the wine's aromas .

Taste is not the only element influenced by the winemaking method. Indeed, depending on the alcoholic fermentation technique, the type of tank, or even the maceration time, the smells and texture of the wine will also be modified. Thus, with the same grape must, it is possible to obtain very varied vintages by working on the difference until the last step.

For example, the oak barrel offers wines very different aromas than those of stainless steel fermentation and aging tanks. In the same way, for rosé wines, a saignée wine will have very different characteristics from a press wine.

Winemaking: the different techniques used for wine production

Winemaking involves transforming grape juice into wine . To do this, there are several methods, each of which will have an impact on the aromas and texture of the wine. Let's then see the influences of each technique on red wines, white wines and rosé wines.

The role of the grape variety in the taste of a wine

To produce red, white or rosé wines, the main difference lies in the choice of grape varieties , in other words, the variety of grapes.

Logically, for red winemaking , the winemaker turns to red grapes. In fact, it is the colored pigments contained in the skins of black grapes which will influence the color of the wine. But the maceration of bunches of black grapes also has an impact on the taste, because each grape variety is more or less sweet, acidic, fruity... To obtain red wine, the must undergoes a long alcoholic fermentation, a delicate operation during which sugars are transformed into alcohol under the action of yeasts.

White vinification is made from white grape varieties only. Unlike the production of red wine, the white grapes are pressed immediately, in order to ferment only the grape juice, without the solid parts.

Finally, rosé winemaking is more complex. As a general rule, only red grapes are used, but a small quantity of white grapes can be added. Then, the winemaker has the choice between saignée wine and maceration wine, two techniques from the vinification of red wines, with a much shorter maceration time. There is also a third technique: press wine, similar to the white wine vinification technique.

The influence of the vat or barrel on the taste of the wine

The alcoholic fermentation of grape musts almost always takes place in a stainless steel or concrete tank . Then, breeding can be done in different containers. Generally speaking, aging in steel or concrete vats has much less influence on the taste of the wine than oak barrels. Aging in wooden barrels (oak, cedar, larch, chestnut, etc.) is particularly used to give red wines complex aromas and to allow the yeasts and tannins in the barrel to continue to develop the aromas.

The different winemaking methods according to wine regions and traditions

Beyond the grape varieties and the vat, the vinification stages define the taste of the wines. Depending on the type of wine and winemaking traditions, we obtain very different wines, particularly sparkling wines:

  • The Champagne method : to produce champagne or sparkling wine, this method involves a double fermentation, one in vats, the other in bottle;
  • The ancestral method : used to make sparkling wines, this method consists of stopping fermentation before the end, and immediately bottling;
  • The traditional method : used for crémant and other sparkling wines, this technique is similar to the champenoise method, but it is practiced elsewhere than in Champagne.

For still wines, many elements influence the taste of the wine, including the addition of inputs, such as yeasts, bacteria, sulphites, etc.

Winemaking: a role in the alcohol content of wine?

As we have seen, the type of winemaking does not only influence the taste of the wine. The operating procedures will also define the alcohol content of the wine . Indeed, the transformation of sugar into alcohol, during alcoholic fermentation, plays a major role. Thus, the longer and more complete the fermentation, the higher the alcohol content (and the lower the sugar level).

But the alcohol level can also depend on other essential stages of winemaking: the choice of temperature and duration of fermentation, the aging method, etc.

The winemaking method directly influences the type of wine obtained, whether in terms of taste, texture, alcohol, or even odors. It is then interesting to taste wines from different manufacturing methods to understand all the nuances.

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