Have you got all you need to make wine?

We're going to make wine. And to do so, apart from grapes and yeasts, we also need equipment. If you're visiting Enozentrum, then you will be able to see the machines used in the past and, if you look at the screen above them, you'll see the same equipment, but their present day version. If this isn't the case, then carry on reading...

And come with me to the winery. Let's see whether the tools needed fit into your larder or your garage.

Get a paper and pencil, or the notes on your mobile and take note. You'll need:

  • A crusher – destemmer
  • A press
  • Vats
  • Filters
  • A bottling machine

These are the minimum requirements, focussing on what is really essential. Is it all absolutely necessary? My garage isn't very big, and my larder is laughable.

Well, let's see. Let's go over the options.

The crusher-destemmer serves to separate the grape berries from the stems, that is the green part supporting them. This can be done by hand, but the grapes would end up fermenting before even reaching the vat, because we would take too long. We could also leave this step out. Make the wine with the stem. Some people do it this way. But, of course, not to save space but because the stalk gives the wine certain characteristics. So you can only skip this step if you're up for making wine using the carbonic maceration process.

While the crusher-destemmer serves to separate the berries from the stalk, the press is used to separate the solids (skin and seeds) from the liquids (the grape must that will be converted into wine). If you want to make a red wine, then you could leave the press out, given that fermentation takes place with the skin and seeds. You don't need to separate the solids. And, once the process is completed, the grape must separates from the solids through gravity (because the solids float on top of the liquid). Let's see, if you want to get more wine, then you can crush the skins to extract the liquid they contain and obtain what is known as press wine. Although, to do so, you'll need a press. However, if you want to make a white wine... Well, there's no escape. This is because white wines are generally made without the skin and the seeds... So you'll have to use a press to separate the grape must. Yet bear in mind the fact that the quality of the wine depends on the pressure applied.

The next item on the list is absolutely essential, whichever way you look at it: the vats. No matter what, you need a container to hold the grape must, or the mixture of grape must and skins, as the case may be, for the fermentation (well, in actual fact, for the fermentation, storage...). Bear in mind that, during the fermentation, you'll need to control the temperature given that, as would happen to you, yeasts are not comfortable at extreme temperatures and will stop working. In other words, they will stop converting sugar into alcohol and so you won't get wine. Take note of the following: it is extremely important to ventilate the winemaking area. Yeasts give off carbon dioxide during fermentation which displaces the oxygen in the air. Something that's quite dangerous, as you can imagine... So be careful!

“Well, we've got the wine! So we may not need any more equipment, what do you think?”

Well... that all depends.

Do you want a clean wine with no impurities? Or doesn't it matter if it's cloudy? If you do want a clean wine, then it's best to include filters among your tools because, after the fermentation process has just been completed, the wine has a cloudy, unpleasant appearance. And the filters serve to improve this. It is sometimes necessary to perform other processing treatments such as clarification, or cold stabilisation, which uses a precipitation process to remove a series of salts known as "tartrates" and which are not desirable in a product of quality given that, when the wine is subjected to low temperatures, crystallisation and sedimentation occur, and they can be removed with the transfer of wine from one vat to another. But this requires more space...

“And what about the bottling machine? Can't I bottle by hand?”

Of course you can! Of course you can bottle by hand. But, again, that depends on how many litres you want to make. Do you need a lot of bottles or just a few? You need to consider that it's not just a question of putting the wine into a bottle, but the bottles need to be corked, front and back labelled, sealed with a cap and put into boxes. That's if they're going to be sold in boxes. But not just that, when bottling it's essential to consider the timing of the process, the ambient temperature, the removal of as much oxygen as possible from the bottle and to fill to just the right level in order to avoid deterioration during storage.

So, as you can see, some items of equipment are necessary. But not all of them, depending on the volume of production and the wine quality that you would like. And whether or not they can fit into your basement or larder.