You probably have heard of the saying “age like fine wine.” Well, just like every other good thing, you can expect good wine to take a long time to make.
However, how long does it actually take to ferment? The question of how long the fermentation process takes has always taken a toll for many winemakers to answer, and the ambiguity of answers the vast majority receive will often keep them guessing. Regardless, one thing is for sure, the taste of fine wine is the labor of sheer patience!
Therefore, if you are a winemaker or looking to delve into the intricate art of making wine, then you should be prepared to exercise a lot of patience. Not to mention, if you are not accustomed to waiting too long or are simply impatient, then you should know that there’s the least amount of time you should wait for your wine to ferment.
This article takes a closer look at wine fermentation and how long it actually takes for the process to be completed. Read on to find out.
Wine Fermentation-How Long Does it Take?
Making wine is an intricate process that involves numerous stages. One of the most important stages is the fermentation process. This is the actual process where grapes are turned into wine. But how long does it take? How long will it take for the grapes and other mixed recipes to turn into alcohol?
It’s important to note that fermentation occurs when yeast (either added or those found in the grapes) eats sugar in the grapes and converts it into alcohol. Since fermentation is a very slow process, it normally takes between two to three weeks to complete fully. However, the initial fermentation stage will often last seven to ten days.
Unlike many other alcohol-based products, wine requires a two-step fermentation process. Once the primary fermentation (which takes close to 10 days) completes, a secondary fermentation kicks off. This, however, does not happen in the same place as the first fermentation. After the initial fermentation, the wine is first filtered and transferred off the lees (yeast sediment) that resulted from the first fermentation. It is then transferred into a carboy (plastic or glass bottle) which can accommodate the whole batch. This is where the second fermentation takes place.
The carboy is instrumental in helping the wine finish fermenting aerobically. Additionally, it helps the wine to clear off naturally and age in bulk. Normally, the secondary stage of fermentation will take anywhere from four months to one year to ferment. The duration of secondary fermentation will strongly depend on factors such as the fermentable used, the temperature in the carboy, the extent of natural clearance, and how you’d prefer to finish your wine. Keep in mind that this is not the end of fermentation. Once secondary fermentation is over, tertiary fermentation continues in the bottles.
Minimum Time for Fermentation
As mentioned before, wine fermentation is a process that takes a lot of time. And since there’s no specific time that fermentation takes, it’s worth noting that there’s a minimum time before you can get ready to taste the wine. Typically, this time is at least 30 days since the fermentation process kicked off. Although this is the fastest time you can taste your wine, it’s important to remember that you will barely get the best out of the flavor and aroma of the wine. Normally, you would expect the wine to show its characteristic flavors and aroma after three or more months of continuous fermentation.
In most cases, it is highly recommended to ensure that you ferment your wine for at least six months. This applies to both white and red wines. However, the general consensus is that the more you ferment your wine, the better the chances of it having the diversity of different tasting notes on its profile.
Things to Keep in Mind When Making Wine
Although the steps required to make wine are pretty straightforward, there are different things that you should always keep in mind when making wine.
Fermentation Produces ethanol, not Methanol:
The chemistry behind wine fermentation can be daunting to understand. However, it’s important to remember that the process of making wine is quite simple. The chemistry in this process involves the conversion of sugar by yeast into alcohol, which is mainly ethanol. In the case of homemade wines, there’s a general misconception that drinking homemade wine is unsafe. However, this can only be true if you drink methanol which is oxygenated ethanol. Even so, it’s crucial to keep in mind that fermenting fruits can only produce ethanol and not methanol.
Wine making can take three days
Normal fermentation processes always take more than a week, but it’s not surprising to find different people who accomplish the process in only three days. This is a method that uses additives to produce alcohol in the least time possible.
You might need to add sugar
Normally, you won’t be required to add any sugar for fermentation to take place. However, while using some fermentation methods, you might be forced to add sugar to your wine. This is mainly because some fermentation methods often produce wine that is not very sweet (since yeast converted all the sugars in the juice to alcohol). Depending on the level of sweetness you would like to achieve, adding sugars into your fermented wine will be instrumental in achieving the perfect taste.
To add sugar effectively into your fermented wine, start by pouring the juice into a large saucepan. Thereafter, expose the juice to heat (not more than 110 degrees) to ensure that the sugar dissolves through the juice properly. Once you’re satisfied that the sugar is evenly dissolved, go ahead to pour it back into the bottle and let the wine cool down at room temperature.
If need be, add yeast: While yeast is an integral component of wine fermentation, there are different types of yeast that you can use. However, there are specific types of yeast that are meant for wine making. If you can get your hands on this yeast, then you can expect better results.
Fermentation is one of the steps of making wine. However, it involves a lot of processes to make it a success. With regards to time, remember to ferment your wine for the recommended amount of time. Do not take any shortcuts here. Follow the due process for a tastier and richly flavored wine.