White wines are pressed prior to fermentation. Red wines are pressed after fermentation Those are the basics but when you
In this Winemaker's Minute, Crushpad winemaker Chris Nelson explains all the variables involved with pressing wine.
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Welcome to another edition of Winemaker Minute. Today we are talking about pressing, which is this beautiful instrument behind me; the EuroPress 3000, we call it. So, it varies if you are making white wine versus the red wine. With white grapes, when they come in from the vineyard sometimes we will sort them depending if there is mold or anything, but in general the entire cluster goes into the press and we press the juice out goes to a settling tank and then we either put it in into a stainless steel tank, the one that is next to me or into a barrel and that depends on the style of wine you are making. So you can have a barrel fermented white wine or stainless fermented white wine.
If you do a stainless you got a more steely mineral characteristic, more fresh fruit if you go with that barrel fermented white wine. You are going to have a little more creaminess, richness, texture, a little less fruit. Essentially that is the method for white grapes, pretty straight forward so red grapes is the whole different ball game. So as I think red grapes get fermented with the skins in the fermentation bin.
So at the end of the fermentation, we are going to take the bin, lift it up with the forklift or we are going to drain the free run, which is the free run juice, well at this point it is wine, we are going to drain the free run wine into a barrel and then we are going to take all the skins that are left over, we are going to dump in into the top so that it will go on the press and we are going to use this – it is called bladder press and essentially, on the very top of this press, it rotates around and on the top as a bladder. Once we start the press cycle the bladder fills with air and gently squeezes down on the grapes all the juice in the wine comes out to the slits, it is collected in this pan, which we then use a pump to fill up and put it into your barrel.
So when we decided when to press your wine, we are going to be met looking at the brix, the amount of sugar that is left in the wine. Most wines are pressed in the -1 to 1 brix, which is basically a measure of how much sugar is remaining from the fermentation. The yeasts are converting that sugar to alcohol; that is the primary fermentation. So as that top we are going to taste the fermentation to side when we want to press and now there is another whole question that how hard do you press.
So, once we dump the grapes into the press, wish you have a cycle where it ramps up slowly. it will go 0.2 bars, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, and up to one bar, it is pretty common. And what we are going to do is as each, let say press fraction comes out of the press into the pan we are going to taste this individually and see how much tannin there. Is it too aggressive, is it to tannic or maybe it tastes really good in you are like, “let us keep pressing,” and that always varies individually as a client desires, but also every danger is different. So that is something I cannot tell you how hard we are going to press until we are actually doing it.
So, initially when we are deciding how hard to press, we are going to drain the free run out of the barrel, out of the bin into the barrel. We are going to taste that free run juice, what I like to do is as you taste all that press fraction separately you can determine what touch your palate. But in general as you press, the first press right is you are going to have a little more sugar in it because there is a lot whole berries that are still in your fermentation that you are going to break open as the pressure from the bladders squeezes down and burst as berries open. So there is still some sugar in there that has not been fermented. So the second press fraction might taste a little sweeter and also you might end up liking that a little bit more. It is pretty common. Getting, I think adding press fraction to your wine on top of the free run gives the wine more complexity, more structure in the long run and it is a very important part of the whole process.
So to wrap it up, the decision of when to press is pretty crucial in the final style of wine you want to