Fermentation: Juice Becomes Wine
- September 24, 2014
I am the lucky one during harvest – I spend my mornings sampling, measuring, tasting, evaluating each lot of Chardonnay to ensure that the fermentations are progressing well. Just after the grapes arrive at the winery, I check their sugar content with a refractometer by putting a few drops of juice onto this hand-held instrument. Within it, there is a scale that reads the sugar level by refracting light through the juice. I taste the juice and record the grape aromas, the sugar content and the details of the fruit – which vineyard block and clone the grapes came from, the tonnage and the quality of the fruit. A day or two later, the juice is inoculated with yeast and I begin measuring the fermentation rates with a hydrometer. This tool is a glass tube that is weighed on one end and measures the density of the sugar and the temperature of the liquid by floating in the fermenting juice.