Wine fermentation is a key process in its production. During fermentation, the must (grape juice) is transformed into wine thanks to yeasts, which consume the sugar and produce carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol . Fermentation can take place in containers of different sizes and materials, such as oak barrels, stainless steel tanks or plastic containers. Fermentation time and temperature vary depending on the type of wine being produced and the conditions under which fermentation takes place. Additionally, the choice of fermentation vessel can affect the flavor and quality of the final wine.

How long does fermentation take?

The time required for fermentation varies depending on the type of wine that is produced and the conditions in which it occurs.

Below we indicate some average times for different types of wine:

  • Red wine: They usually take between 7 and 14 days to ferment.
  • White wine: They take between 7 and 10 days to ferment.
  • Rosé wine: They take between 7 and 10 days to ferment.
  • Sparkling wine: In addition to the fermentation time depending on whether it is white or rosé, sparkling wines require a second fermentation in the bottle (Traditional Method) , which can take longer than other types of wine.

At what temperature does fermentation occur?

Temperature is an important factor in wine production, as it can affect the flavor and quality of the final product. These are the general temperatures at which the process takes place, but keep in mind that these are average temperatures and can vary depending on the winemaker and the grape variety used.

  • Red wine: It usually ranges between 22 and 30ºC as the limit for aging wines. Higher temperatures can produce more concentrated and powerful wines, while lower temperatures can produce softer, fruitier wines.
  • White and rosé wine: It usually varies between 14 and 18°C. Higher temperatures can produce wines with more concentration and power, while lower temperatures can produce softer, fruitier wines. 

Where does fermentation take place?

When we think about wine fermentation, we usually think of stainless steel tanks. But there are other types of containers that can be used for fermentation.

Stainless steel tanks : Stainless steel tanks are containers made of stainless steel and have a capacity that can range from a few hundred liters to several thousand liters. One of the main advantages of fermenting in stainless steel tanks is that they are easy to clean and require no maintenance. In addition, stainless steel does not react with wine, so it does not contribute undesirable flavors or aromas to the final product.

Another advantage of fermentation in stainless steel tanks is that they allow precise regulation of temperature during the fermentation process, which can be beneficial to control the process and obtain high-quality wines.

Plastic tanks : Fermentation in plastic containers is a method used in wine production in some regions. The plastic containers used for fermentation are usually large-capacity tanks made of polyethylene or polypropylene. 

One of the main advantages of fermenting in plastic containers is that they are lighter and less expensive than oak or stainless steel containers. In addition, plastic containers are easier to clean and do not require the same maintenance as those made of other materials.

Another advantage of fermentation in plastic containers is that they allow greater circulation of oxygen during the fermentation process, which can favor the formation of certain aromatic compounds and the development of flavors in the wine.

Concrete Fermentation: Fermentation in concrete tanks is a traditional method used in some regions to produce wine. Concrete basins are large cylindrical containers made of concrete and have a capacity that can vary from a few hundred liters to several thousand liters.

One of the main characteristics of fermentation in concrete tanks is that they allow greater air circulation during the fermentation process, which can favor the formation of certain aromatic compounds and the development of flavors in the wine. Additionally, concrete is a material that allows gradual temperature regulation, which can be beneficial to control the fermentation process.

Fermentation in wooden barrels: Oak barrels are containers made of oak and have a capacity that can vary between a few hundred liters.

Oak barrels have pores that allow greater oxygen circulation during fermentation, which can favor the formation of certain aromatic compounds and the development of flavors in the wine.

Some of the main characteristics of fermentation in oak barrels are: 

  • Contribution of flavors: oak is a material that can provide flavors and aromas to the wine during fermentation, such as notes of vanilla, cinnamon or cocoa. 
  • Temperature control: Oak is a material that allows gradual temperature regulation, which can be beneficial to control the fermentation process. 
  • Higher oxygen concentration: Oak barrels have pores that allow greater oxygen circulation during fermentation, which can favor the formation of certain aromatic compounds and the development of flavors in the wine.

In conclusion, we have learned that fermentation is a very important step in wine production. When choosing a fermentation vessel, it is important to take into account all the factors that affect fermentation and choose the right one for the desired result.

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