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Phases of Vinification

Fasi della Vinificazione

Winemaking is the process of turning grapes into wine. This is a complex process that involves several steps, which can vary depending
on the type of wine you want to make. 

However, the basic process of winemaking includes the following main steps:

1. Harvest

The harvest represents the first stage of the winemaking process, which is when the grapes are picked and brought to the winery. Grape maturity varies depending on the product to be made and is assessed through analysis of sugar, acidity, pH and aroma levels. The longer the grapes remain on the plant, the higher will be the sugar content of pigmenting substances in the musts and the lower will be their acidity.

2. Destemming and crushing

In vinification, destemming and crushing are two separate processes but often performed together during the stage of preparing the grapes for fermentation.

Destemming is the process by which the grapes are separated from the stems, which are the woody parts of the plant, as they can impart unpleasant characteristics such as bitterness and astringency to the wine. In addition, destemming allows the removal of any plant residues or impurities that could affect the quality of the wine. Crushing, on the other hand, is the process of crushing the grapes to break the skin and release the juice.

3. Fermentation

At this stage, the must obtained from pressing is placed in vessels, usually stainless steel tanks or wooden barrels, where the sugars in the musts are transformed into alcohol through the action of yeasts. This process can last from a few days to several weeks, depending on the type of wine and the desired fermentation conditions.

4. Refinement and maturation

Before being bottled, once fermentation is complete, the wine is subjected to racking and filtration, which is followed by a settling period called refinement.

It can be conducted in inert containers for a period of time ranging from a week to a few months. If it is conducted in large (barrels) or small (barriques) wooden vessels in which it may remain for a period ranging from several months to several years, this is called wine maturation or aging.

5. Bottling

After maturation is completed, the wine is racked and filtered again and then bottled. The wine at this point must stabilize again, so it is aged in the bottle usually for one to three months before release. 

Of course, there are different variations and approaches to winemaking depending on the region, tradition, and the type of wine one wishes to
to produce. Some wines may require more complex winemaking processes, such as skin maceration for red wines or fermentation in wooden barrels for aging wines. Winemaking is an art that requires skill and experience to achieve quality results.

Sources:

1. Four glasses: “Stages of winemaking,” https://www.quattrocalici.it/conoscere-il-vino/fasi-della-vinificazione/

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