How long does it take for wine to be made?
Making wine is truly only as complicated as you make it. Realistically, all you need to make wine is a container (preferably one with an airlock), grapes (preferably visit vinifera grapes) and yeast (preferably saccharomyces cerevisiae). With these simple ingredients, you could hypothetically turn those grapes into wine in just five days. In some cases, with large production facilities, that is how wine is mass produced, but that is not how you will get high quality wine.
High quality wine usually isn’t released to the public until at least eight months after the fruit is picked, and it can sometimes be worked on in a cellar for up to ten years!
To understand this, you need to understand the winemaking process a little more. Wine goes through primary, or alcoholic fermentation pretty quickly. Once inoculated, a wine will convert sugar into alcohol through the metabolic process of yeast. This is where a lot of the complexity to wine stems from. The fermentation helps pull out compounds and create flavor and phenolic profiles that help build the wine.
Once this process is done, you can call it a day because you have officially made wine, or you can keep going. The next step for almost all red wines, and some white wines (primarily chardonnay) would be malolactic fermentation.
Malolactic fermentation is the conversion of malic acid into lactic acid in your wines using a bacteria from the Lactobacillaceae family, usually Oenococcus or Pediococcus. Complicated names aside, these bacteria serve the purpose of converting malic acid into lactic acid.
When you think of malic acid, think of an astringent, mouth puckering acid, whereas lactic acid is a more rounded, smooth acid that actually adds a creamier texture to the wines (think of a creamy Napa chardonnay).
Once malolactic fermentation, which can add multiple weeks to the fermentation process, is finished, there is nothing left to ferment. So, you can either finish the wine there, put it in a bottle and let it hit the stores, or you can keep it and work on it longer.
The next process is unnecessary, but beneficial to most wines, especially red wines.
Aging a wine on property allows the winemaking team to have control of the stability of the wine and be able to make slight adjustments. That will improve the quality of the wine. This would include putting your wine in barrels.
Barrels are amazing tools in winemaking because they are able to smooth out tannins, add complex flavors and scents to your wines, and help turn your wine into an ageable masterpiece with microoxygenation.
One of the main problems with wine is its love-hate relationship with oxygen. Too little oxygen and your wine will become reductive and start to smell like rotten eggs, rubber and burnt matches. Too much oxygen and your wine will oxidize, turn brown and smell like bruised apples.
Barrel aging is the solution. Barrels have micro-pores that slowly add oxygen to the wine which actually increases the wines ability to be unaffected by the presence or lack-there-of of oxygen.
So, although you can technically make wine in just a few days, make sure to think ahead on the quality of wine you would want to make before making wine making decisions!