The Racking: 50 shades of… red!

Just a few more days in the vineyard and then all the work of the wine makers will move into the cellar. Almost every winery is now in … fermentation. What mystery surrounds this first moment of the best italian wines production? To find out, you can come and see for yourself the great traditional stainless steel vats where the wort boils, and smell the perfumes that characterize the transition from grapes, a product of the earth, to a work of the man: during a full day wine tasting tour departing from Florence, you will partecipate to the whole process during the harvest time.

The red wine is made from the fermentation of the must with the pulp maceration. During the process the whole bunch, the skins and the seeds of grapes (in some cases even the stalk but it is not the case of the grapes that make the best Chianti wine and Super Tuscans) slowly dissolve thanks to the berry juice: it is a very important phase for the red wine, it is at this time that all the visual, olfactory and gustatory qualities take personality and differentiate the red juice from the must of white wines. For this reason, the maceration, despite being a natural phenomenon, it must be “measured” by the wisdom of the winemaker and the oenologist: it should not last too little or they may develop unwanted microbes or chemical effects (according to tradition the must rest in the vats to maceration and fermentation for 2-3 weeks) and the temperature of the cellars and vats should be controlled: normally the best for this process is between 25 and 30 °C.

In the meantime the fermentation, which occurs simultaneously with the maceration, allows to the yeasts present in grapes (sometimes also added in more) to transform the sugar in the pulp into alcohol.

Immediately after the fermentation and the maceration, the wine is racked off, separating the fermented liquid, called “wine flower“, which will form the best Italian wines, from the solid parts, now reduced to a pulp, pressing the pulp you will get the “press wine”, less valuable.

According to the pressing force from the lightest to the most high, we talk about wines of “first pressing”, “second pressing”, the third … The “wine flower” is collected again in stainless vats or barrels and rest there for a few weeks, up to 36 months for more complex wines: it is the phase of aging that occurs along with a second fermentation in which the wine loses acidity and becomes more stable and smother, and less sensitive to internal and external changes. Many other changes will take place from this moment: the wine will continue to be enriched with aromas, perfumes and structure until you get it in your glasses with his name and his year. But the color and the “body” that will characterize him forever are determined in these first important