To make quality wine, we often think about the choice of grape varieties, the quality of the grapes, and the winemaking method. But the choice of material is also important, and in particular the choice of the wine tank. Discover all the secrets of winemaking in vats .
Vinification in vats: what is it?
The first role of the winegrower, in producing wine, is to take care of growing quality grapes. In the vineyard, he then acts by choosing the cultivation techniques, the grape varieties, and any products used for the proper development of the berries. After the harvest, the winemaker goes to the cellar, where he will have to select the vinification method he will use to produce his wine. This will determine the characteristics of the wine, but also the way in which the wine will be aged. The professional then decides the duration of maceration and fermentation, but also the equipment used, and in particular the wine vats .
The stages of vinification in the cellar
Arriving at the cellar, the grapes must undergo several transformations to become wine. The process then extends over several months, and takes place in different stages. And while the first phases of winemaking are very similar for white wines, red wines and rosé wines, others vary depending on the type of wine.
To make red wine, these steps follow:
- Crushing and destemming, where the grapes are separated from the stems;
- Fermentation in vats, where the sugars are transformed into alcohol under the action of the yeasts;
- Pressing, where the berries are pressed to recover the grape juice;
- Storage or aging, where the wine is stored in vats;
- Bottling process.
These steps are of course described in broad terms, and the process is more complex for the oenologist and the winemaker.
For the manufacture of white wine, the steps are very similar, but we start directly with pressing, without going through fermentation.
As for rosé, the manufacturing technique is much more complex than that. There are then several ways of producing rosé wine, one by direct pressing, the other by bleeding, based on the first stages of red wine vinification.
It is important to keep in mind that there is no single way to approach each of these steps. Depending on the technique and equipment used, the structure and character of the wine will vary, which allows each winemaker to express the richness of his know-how and his terroir. Among the determining elements for the production of a wine, the choice of the aging vat is essential for the evolution of the wine.
The different wine vats
The choice of material for a wine tank has an economic impact, of course, but above all it has an impact on the evolution of the wine. There are then different types of wine vats , which make it possible to obtain very different wines.
- The wooden vat , like the oak barrel, allows the wine to maintain a certain interaction with the oxygen from the outside, and to “breathe” better. The contact of air through the wood gives particular aromas to the wine, while the tannins will also interact with the wooden vat, giving the wine a beautiful complexity;
- The concrete tank , with its porous material, also allows the wine to benefit from micro-oxygenation favorable to its development. On the other hand, the contact of concrete, unlike wood, does not give a particular aroma to the wine;
- The stainless steel tank , or stainless steel, is completely airtight. We therefore find no exchange of aroma or oxygenation. The stainless steel tank is often used for wines that are already very aromatic, which are sufficient in themselves and do not need to evolve with other artifices.
The type of wine tank can also be chosen according to its shape. Indeed, depending on its shape, the vat can have an impact on the evolution of the wine. For example, an oval tank allows the wine to be in continuous contact with the lees thanks to a vortex movement. We then find cylindrical, oval, cube-shaped, or even trapezoidal tanks .
The choice of winemaking tanks has a major role in winemaking. Would you like to learn more? Visit the winery of the Berne estate for a guided tour and a tasting of Provence wines.