Hello E. C. Kraus:
I’ve read a lot of the articles on your site concerning wine making. The one titled “Wine Making With Grapes”
mentions that there is a different method of processing red grapes than there is for white grapes, but I’m not sure I completely understand the process for red grapes. What does it mean when it says that they are to be “crushed and fermented with the skin and pulp for several days and then later pressed”?
First what does it mean to crush them? Does it mean to just press them enough to cause the juice to start coming out of them, but not completely? Please explain.
Second it says that the skin and pulp will be fermented for a few days with the juice already extracted. Does this mean that the first few days I will actually start the fermentation process with the yeast, sugar (if needed), and all of the other stuff in the fermentation vessel? How many days should this be allowed to ferment, before finally pressing the grapes? And then what happens after I finally press them and separate the pulp and skins from the juice? At what point during the process for red grapes do I check and adjust the acidity and sugar levels? And when should I add the yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, potassium bisulfite, and the yeast to all of this? Please explain further.
You are correct. The information on how to make white wine is different than the information on making reds. Let us see if we can clear up some of the confusion.
Fermenting red grapes with the pulp and skin means crushing the grapes and gathering the pulp into a primary fermenter along with all of the other wine making ingredients. You follow this process for red wine in order to extract more color and body from the grape. This post, What’s The Skins Got To Do With It, that is listed on this wine making blog will provide you with more information.
When crushing the grapes all you are looking to do is burst the skins. This is different than pressing which comes later. Crushing large amounts of grapes by hand can be difficult, so you may want to consider purchasing a grape crusher
or even possibly a grape destemmer/crusher
After crushing you will have a lot of free flow juice. You should check the acid level with an acid test kit
and sugar level with a gravity hydrometer
and make any necessary adjustments. Then you are ready to move on to the fermentation.
The primary fermentation is the first 5-7 days. The first day you will add all ingredients required including the Campden Tablets
to purify your juice, with the exception of the wine yeast. You will add the wine yeast 24 hours after adding the Campden Tablets.After the 5-7 days, you will remove the pulp and press out the juice. Pressing can be done by hand. However, when making wine from grapes you may want to consider a purchasing one of our grape presses
due to the amount of grapes required. The article, Using A Wine Press
listed on our website explains this process in more detail.You will then rack your wine to a secondary fermenter and attach and airlock
and rubber stopper to continue the fermentation.
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.