Traditional Red Wine Making (Part 2)

The next stage of fermentation is what is called the malolactic fermentation where the wine will sit in large barrels that can be made of stainless steel or oak as well as wooden vats. Tanks or barrels have to be kept closed at all time to avoid bacteria to spoil the wine and the wine has to be transferred from barrel to barrel occasionally to perfect the job.

If barrels of new oak are used it would be used for wine that is not meant for immediate consumption because new oak gives a strong vanilla flavor to the wine.

When oak flavor is added to inexpensive wine, strips or chips of oaks are added in the vat. However, this procedure is illegal in France. French wine which has an oak taste comes from real oak barrels.

The length of time between fermentation and bottling can vary from region to region form a few weeks for a Beaujolais Nouveau to as up to eight years for some very traditional and rare wines.

When time for bottling has come, the wine should be clear regardless of its kind, red or white, dry or sweet. At this time of the fermentation the wine is "fined" using egg white or milk protein to drag any solids which have settled at the bottom of the barrel or tank. Then it is filtered to free the wine of any bacteria.

Because fining and filtering remove some of the flavor of the wine some producers may choose to skip one or both of those steps.

Whether fined or filter or not, the wine is now ready to be bottled and depending of its kind or region it will be good to drink anywhere from a few week to a few years.

Source of Traditional Red Wine Making (Part 2) by Sylviane N. – author of Traditional Red Wine Making (Part 2) article

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