(Our) Red Vinification: Alcoholic Fermentation and Racking

18 January 2021

In general, how long is the fermentation of red wines? 

The times are comparable to those of white wines, so we are talking about 10-12 days.

As always this is intended as a rough indication: each vintage has its own special characteristics and you can never completely exclude the risk of unexpected events such as a difficult start to the fermentation or its arrest.

How is it possible that the fermentations of white and red wines have a similar duration if their results, in terms of alcohol content, can be even very significantly different?

Great question! The answer lies mainly in the temperature: white musts work at lower temperatures, which makes their fermentation processes longer, even where there is less sugar to be worked. On the other hand, the temperature of the red musts is kept at higher levels (around 20°C) and this means that the work of the yeasts is catalyzed, speeding up the process.

What happens at the end of the alcoholic fermentation?

At the end of the fermentation we proceed to the racking, or the complete separation of the must from the marc. The first phase of this procedure involves the extraction of the liquid must from the tank, which is started by simply opening the valve and letting the liquid flow out. Once this is done, the marc is extracted from the tank, and then loaded into the press to recover the fraction of must still retained in it. The use of the press in this specific step is absolutely comparable to the one we have described for pressing the grapes in white vinification

The must thus obtained is then decanted into a new tank and we decide whether or not to subject it to the so-called malolactic fermentation.

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