Winemaking is a mix of science and art. Everyone loves to focus on the romance of the art, but don’t forget the science.
Science: Before picking, a vineyard is monitored for ripeness. Analysis is done, measuring the density of the juice to determine the sugar concentration. pH and titratable acidity is also measured, and the progression of these measurements is tracked through the ripening period.
Art: Walking through a vineyard, tasting the grapes, looking at the condition of the vines, knowing the history of the vineyard, imagining what they will taste like after fermentation, barrel aging and bottling.
Science: Fermentation (glycolysis followed by anaerobic respiration). Specific yeast are inoculated into the freshly crushed grapes, and fermentation is underway. Measurements of pH, titratable acidity are initially done to compare to the vineyard results. The sugar levels are measured twice daily using the Baumé scale (developed in 1768 by French pharmacist Antoine Baumé) to follow the rate the yeast is fermenting.
Art: Tasting fermenting juice, deciding to cool the wine or press it off skins when the timing is right, and transfer the wine to oak, or throwing some whole, (uncrushed) bunches into the fermenter.
Science: Final analysis of the wine, measuring alcohol, density, acetic acid, dissolved CO2, glucose, fructose, malic acid, heat and cold stability and turbidity. Just to make sure everything is ready.
Art: Blending and final tasting of a wine can only be done by taste. All the measurements in the world can’t separate a good wine from a bad. Careful and detailed blending is critical, from tasting individual barrels (leading to ordering from the best cooperages the following year) to tasting in the lab, carefully blending samples together, assessing style and creating each new wine. Cheers, Andrew Jericho.
Cheers, Andrew Jericho.