Grapes for wine must be harvested when perfectly ripe and have their natural sugar content.
Harvesting grapes when ripe and ready for vintaging is not as simple as it sounds, as it requires patience.
The more you wait, the sweeter the grapes become and the more intense the flavor they produce once they are fermented.
Read on to find out how to crush grapes for wine!
How To Crush Grapes for Wine
Wine grapes must be crushed to release the juice for fermentation. Most wineries use a pneumatic winepress to crush the grapes and allow the juice to drain away from the skins and seeds.
If the wine variety needs to age for some time with the skin and seeds, as is the case with orange wine, the grapes will be crushed and set for fermentation before the skins and seeds are filtered out later.
Traditional crushing involves stepping into large vats of grapes and crushing them with your feet. The juice runs off from the skins and seeds and into fermentation vats.
Pressing is used to get the maximum amount of juice from the grape and separates the seeds and pulp from the juice.
Some winemakers do crushing and pressing in the same step while others use two steps.
When Are Grapes Ready To Crush?
The winemaking process starts with crushing the grapes to release their juice, the main ingredient in wine.
The grapes must be ripe enough to release juice but not too ripe and have natural sugar content.
You can check several factors to see if the grapes you have are ready for winemaking.
The most important factor is the color of the grapes – there should not be any green spots for high-quality wine grapes.
The varieties of grapes for winemaking and the crushing options available vary depending on the type of wine you make and your grapes.
Some grape varieties are better for making red wine, while others are better for making white wine.
Here are how to crush grapes for wine and the best grape varieties for vintaging:
What Grape Varieties Are Best for Winemaking?
There are many grape varieties for winemaking.
The best grape varieties for making wine are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling.
These are the grape varieties that are best for making red wine.
You can also make white wine from Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer.
Other grape varieties can be used to make other types of wine. However, these grape varieties are the most commonly used and best make red and white wine.
Read More: How to Make White Wine With Red Grapes. We explore the winemaking process and how red grapes are used to produce white wines!
How To Crush Grapes for Homemade Wine
Home winemaking is a fun hobby for many people. When your backyard vineyard is ready to be made into wine you’ll have to start by crushing the grapes.
You can set up an old-fashioned foot stomp or buy a manual grape crusher online. Look for a unit that can destem and crush in a single action.
Consider getting a unit that can press grapes as well so the skins and seeds are separated so you don’t have to filter the juice later.
If you have a little DIY know-how you can easily construct your own winepress at home using stuff you probably already have laying around.
If you’re pressing less than 100 pounds of grapes, a DIY press works great.
If you have a few grapes to crush and you’re planning on making a single case of wine, you might put them into cheap bins or buckets and crush them by hand (or foot).
You can get more juice out of a pneumatic crusher, and they’re well worth the investment for larger backyard vineyards.
Commerical vineyards nearly always use pneumatic presses, even if they have a grape stomp as a tourist attraction.
The pneumatic press can perfectly crush grapes and preserve the flavors for fine wine.