It is often said that you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken. Quite a few believe that this much is true when it comes to winemaking. Purists adhere to the tenet that the process of crafting fine wines is tried and tested and should remain constant, no matter the season or reason.  Of course, those with an experimental bent are more than ready to bend the rules and constantly push the boundaries in coming up with the perfect vintage.

Groundbreaking Processes in WinemakingTypically, the winemaking process involves harvesting the latest crop of grapes, which is then peeled and crushed to extract the juice. The resulting concentrate undergoes primary fermentation where majority of its sugar content is converted to alcohol. Meanwhile, the skins are still utilized via pressing and the juice is collected and can be mixed with the free run wine from the initial fermentation at the maker’s discretion.

Secondary fermentation is the next step. Its purpose is to refine the overall flavor by reducing acidity and refining the overall taste of the wine. Oak barrel storage follows, which can last for years at a time. Aging comes next, where the wine is stored in oak barrels to allow both flavor and aroma to set. After the wine has sufficiently matured, it is further refined and clarified to remove any impurities. Finally, the liquid is bottled and stored for further maturation.

Though it may seem that the entire procedure is pretty much cut and dried at this point, even the smallest changes can make a big difference. Variations on the different wine variants such as Champagne and Rose were obtained by altering the winemaking process at different stages. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but with wine the creativity is all a matter of fun. Here’s a more in-depth look at the latest techniques out there:

Sustainable Wine Movement

Organic is in. Though mechanical harvesting and the use of newer yeast variants has become increasingly popular, wine manufacturers are starting to favor more straightforward methods. This means sticking to the good ol’ traditional process of making wine. From grape harvesting to bottling, the use of machines and chemicals is minimized. It may limit the liberties wine makers can take when it comes to discovering new variants but many believe that the overall goal is much loftier.

Resulting organic wines are said to have a more rustic texture and aroma compared to those produced commercially, and they reduce environmental harm too. The debate on what effect this will have on flavour and aroma is still far from settled but this is one trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

Lowering Alcohol Levels

Wine is meant to invigorate, not incapacitate—at least that’s what the latest techniques are leaning toward. The industry’s preferences are wines with a light to medium body such as Pinot Grigio and Shiraz. These are vintages that are meant to be savored with a wide variety of dishes. They go with almost everything and the flavors present a greater complexity.

Although the school of thought on food and wine pairings seems to be set, delicate drinking also favors wine for its own sake. These are meant to be sipped not gulped during evenings of deep conversation or quiet reflection.

Bringing the Bubbly

Sparkling wines are reemerging and not in the way you may think. The old go-to, Champagne, is certainly part of the new breed, but inventive winemakers are stepping out of the box. Prosecco is an early star, marrying the concept of fizzy consistency with the emerging trend of lighter-bodied wines.

Playing around with additional fermentation processes produces these variants that are now delighting oenophiles the world over. Experts are looking to Spanish and Greek varietals to deliver in this regard, with the Riesling of NYC as a close runner-up.

Deliberate Oxidation

Traditionally, oxidized wines are common vinegar and certainly not for collection or consumption. That was then. Now most wineries are investigating the benefits of deliberately leaving wines exposed to open air. What was once thought to be major flaw in the wine industry is now creating new and even better variants to enjoy.

In contrast to the fresher taste of non-oxidized wines, these present quite a different flavor profile altogether. They tend to be more on the savory side, giving wine tasters a whole new series of essences to parse and relish. Front runners include the Oloroso Sherry, Vin Jaune, and various oxidized Chardonnays.

While it may be good for beginners in the wine industry to know the basic ins and outs of wine making, experimentation is always a necessary, albeit risky, part of the process. The initial steps of invention are always full of trial and error, but for those who manage to succeed, the results are well worth the effort.

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