When looking at the grape crushing process in winemaking one might assume that it’s really just a fancy way of juicing the grapes. In fact, without crushing, that grape juice might never actually turn to wine in the first place. Simply put, crushing and destemming are one of the most important parts of the winemaking process.
The point of crushing is not merely to juice the grapes, but to get the juice running – to get the sugars and the yeasts intermingling by breaking the grape’s skin. This allows the yeast to begin turning the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. In other words, it’s not really going to become wine if you don’t crush the grapes. You can get some great grape juice, but you’re not going to get the fine wine you’re looking for.
You may be surprised to learn that it is actually the grape skin that lends red wine its color, so the winemaker might not divide the wine and the pulp immediately after crushing the grapes. Destemming takes place at this point in time regardless of what sort of wine you’re trying to make, but if you’re after a white wine, you’ll be removing the grape skins right along with the stems. When making red wine, the skin will usually be left in with the juice during the pressing and fermentation process.
There may be some variations to this step of the winemaking process depending on what type of wine is being made and who’s making it, but generally speaking, grapes need to be crushed and destemmed.
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