While doing some wine tasting, I had the opportunity to chat with the Winemaker. As I was complimenting him on making some outstanding wine, I commented "Making wine must be really hard." He laughed and shook his head. "No," he replied "Making wine is easy. Anyone can do it. But, making good wine is really hard."
Wine making is, in practice, easy. You grow a bunch of grapes, wait for them to ripen, and then harvest them. You will usually de-stem the grapes and remove leaves and any bad grapes. Next you crush the grapes to extract the juice. If you are making white wine, the skin are removed from the juice; for reds the skins are left in with the juice. Next, yeast turns the natural sugar in the grape juice into alcohol. With white wines, some residual sugar usually remains in the wine, while reds are usually fermented until all the sugar is turned to alcohol. Now you transfer the wine into storage containers; either stainless steel tanks or oak barrels. White wines may or may not spend time in oak depending on the winemakers preference. Red wines will age for as little as 4 months to several years. Wines are then filtered and bottled. So, there you go. Easy, right?
Well, as we have all experienced, some wines are better than others. And some are just plain not drinkable. I know of people who have taken part in a local winery's winemaking experience. They got to pick the grapes, do the crush, ferment the juice and bottle it, compete with a custom label! It was a very exciting and educational experience. Unfortunately, the wine wasn't any good.
So, if you think wine making is hard, it's not. But making good wine is hard. Next time you get to thinking that maybe you'll try your hand at wine making, open a good bottle, pour yourself a glass and do some serious thinking. Cheers!