What is the difference between white and red wine production?


What types of wines do you know? Even a person completely far from wine, and who has never attended wine tastings, has not visited wineries, will tell you that wine, of course, can be red and white. What is the difference? It would seem simple: red wine is made from red grapes, white – from white. This is true in most cases. There are, however, a couple of exceptions and clarifications, but for now, I will not confuse you.

So, red grapes for red wine, white for white. Learned! But is that all? Not really. Grapes are, of course, the basis of wine, but there are also several differences in the white and red wine production process.

To make it clear, let’s take a brief look at the main stages of winemaking (we take a very generalized and simplified case, of course, the process may vary depending on the region and the desire of the winemaker, but to understand how white and red wine production occurs, this scheme is enough):

The beginning of the wine making

·     Harvest. Everything is clear here. White grapes are usually harvested before red. Grapes are harvested (manually or using special machines) and delivered to the winery.

·       Destemming and crushing

of grape berries. The stems are separated from the berries with the help of special equipment. Thank God, it exists today, which significantly accelerated and simplified the winemaking process. The berries are slightly crushed.

White Wine Production - Infographic



White Wine Production

These initial processes are the same for both white and red wine production. But then the difference comes.

  • To produce white wine, the berries are immediately pressed. This way, the juice is extracted and solid materials (skin, seeds) are removed.

  • Next, the resulting liquid is cooled so that the leaked small solid particles settle, they are removed and the less-purified juice is fermented.

  • The fermentation process usually takes place in large containers made of stainless steel, concrete or wood. For fermentation, we need yeasts. They can be natural, which are already on the skin of grapes, and can be commercial, that is, produced in the laboratory. Fermentation lasts several days. During this time, yeast transforms sugar from grapes into alcohol, releasing carbon dioxide and heat.

Red Wine Production - Infographic


Red Wine Production

For red wine, things are a bit different. Berries separated from the stems are placed in a large container. For the production of white wine we get rid of the skin as soon as possible, then for the production of red – we still need skins.

  • Fermentation starts. And in parallel there is a process of maceration. Maceration is one of the main differences between the white and red wine production. Maceration is a process during which the skin is in contact with grape juice (the berries are partially crushed, so we already have both solid materials and liquid in the container) to extract color, aromas, tannins and other components. The fact is that most red grapes have a transparent pulp, and the components responsible for color are in the skin. Thus, without maceration, we would not be able to produce a truly red colored wine. The duration of maceration for red wine varies from a few days to several weeks, depending on the final result that the winemaker wants to get.

  • After fermentation and maceration (parallel processes in one tank) we transfer all the material to the press. After we separate the liquid material from the solid. We no longer need the skin and seeds.

From Aging to Bottling

The subsequent steps differ only in the details for the white and red wine production.

·   After the fermentation the wine is aged for some time. It can be large containers made of concrete or stainless steel, but also a small volume wooden barrels. Depending on the quality of the wine and its potential for aging, and of the financial potential of the winery, of course. White wines usually are aged less. But it all depends, there is no single rule.

·   After the aging, the wine is filtered, fined and voila! It is ready for bottling.

I hope that now the process of white and red wine production has become a little clearer for you. And you can tell your friends what’s the difference between red and white wine. But there was one more question. Of course! How to be with a rose wine? Read the next post about it! Subscribe to Facebook and Instagram pages not to miss more useful information. See you soon!

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