Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Grapes & Wine

            On Thursday, June 18, we visited the Pievuccia Wine Farm, owned and operated by the Papini family. The owner gave us a tour of the winery and explained to us the process of making wine. He first explained the growing and harvesting of grapes. We discussed the different types of pesticides and how the most common ones contain copper and sulfur. He told us that he prefers not to use pesticides with copper or sulfur because copper is a heavy metal and the rain washes it off and because sulfur is so strong that it kills the good stuff along with the bad stuff. We also discussed how some vineyard owners use music to give energy to their plants, but he uses compost and brown algae.
            When the grapes are ready to be crushed, they are taken into a machine that crushes them. He told us that if the grapes are healthy, you just have to crush the grapes and let them ferment, but if the grapes are unhealthy, you have to call a wine-maker to give you the yeast, enzyme, and protein necessary to start the fermentation process. We discussed that in order to make red wine, you let the skin and juice ferment together, but in order to make white wine, you take out the skins and just let the juice ferment. He told us that some wineries let the white grapes ferment with their skin, which gives the wine a yellow color. Something that I thought was so interesting is that champagne is made from red grapes.
            He then explained the fermentation process and how some wine is stored in wooden barrels and some is stored in concrete or stainless steel barrels. He said that wooden barrels have pores that allow oxygen exchange to occur with the outside air. This causes the antioxidant chains in the wine to be long and strong, and the wood also gives the wine a unique flavor. I learned in class that fermentation is the process of microorganisms eating the sugars of grapes in order to get energy, which transforms sugar into alcohol. Finally, the wine is bottled, and the type of cork is chosen based on if you want the oxygen exchange to continue. If you do, you cork the wine with a wooden cork, and if not, you can use a glass or plastic cork.

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