Fermentation Vessels: Why Do They Matter?

Winemaking is both an art and a science. While there are many fundamental processes that need to be followed when making a wine of any kind, there is also an opportunity for expression by the winemaker, and there are many decisions that he or she can make to mold and shape the wine into a certain style. Different methods within the winemaking process affect the way the wine will turn out.

For example, if said winemaker would like to make a fresh, clean, easy-drinking Sauvignon Blanc, he might choose to pick the grapes when they’ve achieved ripeness; immediately press the grapes and separate the juice; put the wine through a cold fermentation in stainless steel; and bottle early. He’s not likely to use native yeast or age in oak, and a lot of oxygen exposure will be avoided.

One of the most important decisions that a winemaker needs to make is what type of vessel the wine should live in during fermentation. These days, the three most popular fermentation vessels are made of oak, concrete, and stainless steel. These materials affect the makeup of the wine differently because they allow varying amounts of oxygen to be exposed to the wine within. Let’s take a look at how they differ.

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