Pacific Rim
July 7, 2023 | wine | Pacific Rim

Ever Wonder How White Wine is Made?

Nearly 65% of Americans say they enjoy white wines, and with one sip of the perfect white, it’s not hard to see why. In most cases, they’re refreshing and crisp. These light-bodied beauties always make for an enjoyable glass, particularly in the warmer months of the year. They also tend to be a bit more versatile if you’re pairing them with food, which helps contribute to their popularity. Have you ever wondered, though, how white wine is made? The process might surprise you. 

How Is White Wine Made?

The process of creating the perfect glass of wine starts with the step you might expect - harvesting the grapes. You can use both red and white wine grapes to make a white wine, though. It’s possible to use a combination of the two because the skins aren’t used in the fermentation process of white wine. Despite that fact, though, white wines tend to use either green or yellow grapes in the process. 

With white wines, the grapes tend to get picked fairly early in the harvest season. Most winemakers harvest their white wine grapes very early in the morning. At that point, the grapes are quite cool from the night air. Once they are picked, they’re immediately sent to the winery, then placed in a wine press. That press squeezes the juice from the grapes, and all of the juice is placed in a tank. Sulfur dioxide is usually added to help prevent bacteria from spoiling the grapes before the fermentation process begins. 

Were you to grab a glass of juice at this point, you would find a cloudy, sweet liquid. Winemakers let it rest in the tank for some time to settle a bit and get cold. That settling process helps to remove any suspended solids in the juice, as they could create a level of bitterness in the final product. 

The next step is to add small sugar-eating yeasts to help eliminate the natural sugars in the juice and turn them into alcohol. In some cases, the yeast is added to the juice. In other situations, though, it occurs spontaneously. Those naturally occurring yeasts are a bit more challenging to work with, but they sometimes create an interesting flavor that cannot be replicated with commercial yeasts. 

Most wines will handle the fermentation process in a stainless steel tank. There are, however, some Chardonnay varieties that ferment in oak barrels, as that can help contribute to a smoother texture. 

Fermentation is the next step in the process, and it takes about 14 days to finish. White wines have to ferment at cooler temperatures than red ones do, and they’re usually placed in closed tanks to ferment to help ensure oxygen exposure is kept to a minimum. Oxygen exposure can kill the delicate aromas in white wine. 

It’s at this point that the winemaker decides just how sweet to make a white wine. If the company wants a sweet wine, they stop the yeast from eating the sugars much sooner, creating a higher residual sugar level. If they want a fairly dry white wine, they let the process go longer. 

A second fermentation process takes place during the next step, but it doesn’t happen with all white wines. This one doesn’t involve the fermentation of alcohol. Instead, it’s an acidic conversion that happens with bacteria. Bacteria eat malic acid, then turns that into lactic acid. The result is the smooth, creamy feel you get with something like a Chardonnay. 

At that point, the wine is left in the tank or barrels for some time. Often stirring occurs to help the lees (or dead yeast particles) float up in the wine. That adds some flavor and helps create a creamy texture. The wine is then aged to the perfect point to suit the winemaker’s preference. Once that’s done, the blend is created. Soften single varietal white wines are made, but a blend of the varieties can be added too. 

At this point in the process, however, the wine is still fairly cloudy, so most winemakers will work to change that with clarifying agents. They help to eliminate the suspended proteins in the wine that are causing that cloudy look. Typically those going for a vegan wine will use bentonite clay to remove the proteins. Others, though, use casein, which is derived from milk, or egg whites. 

The wine is then passed through a filter to help reduce the likelihood that bacteria will spoil it. 

The final step in the process is to bottle the wine. Winemakers have to be very careful at this point, though, and ensure it is exposed to very little oxygen so as not to affect the color or the clarity. 

Taste the Results

Now that you know a bit about how white wine is made, it’s time to taste the results. Take a look at our white wine varieties, then order a few bottles so you can taste all of the work we put into delivering you a perfect glass.


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