Red Wine Alcoholic Fermentation
The Process of Fermentation in Red Wine Production
The fermentation temperature of red wine is higher than white wine. (75-85 degrees Fahrenheit as opposed to around 55 degrees Fahrenheit) But the entire process rarely takes longer than two weeks compared to a month or more for white wines. In sum, the alcoholic fermentation of red wine is shorter, but more intense than white wine.
During this time, carbon dioxide escapes and raises the skins to the top of the fermentation container, forming the “cap.” The cap is either punched down by hand, or juice from the bottom of the container is pumped over the top. Great care must be taken to insure that the juice is not overly oxidized during this process.
The higher the temperature and the more the skins are immersed in the wine, the more tannin they will impart. Slightly lower fermentation temperatures are used for varietals prized for their fresh characteristics and subtle aromas such as Pinot Noir. Fuller-bodied red wines are often left in contact with their skins for over a month to extract as much tannin and pigment as possible.
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