Sunday, May 18, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 9:15 PM | 1 comment

Becoming Wine?



In order to make fine wine, grapes must be harvested at the precise time, preferably when physiologically ripe. A combination of science and old-fashioned tasting usually go into determining when to harvest, with consultants, winemakers, vineyard managers, and proprietors all having their say. Harvesting can be done mechanically or by hand. However, many estates prefer to hand harvest, as mechanical harvesters can often be too tough on the grapes and the vineyard. Once the grapes arrive at the winery, reputable winemakers will sort the grape bunches, culling out rotten or under ripe fruit before crushing.

Crushing the whole clusters of fresh ripe grapes is traditionally the next step in the wine making process. Having said all this, it is important to note that not all wine begins life in a crusher. Sometimes, winemakers choose to allow fermentation to begin inside uncrushed whole grape clusters, allowing the natural weight of the grapes and the onset of fermentation to burst the skins of the grapes before pressing the uncrushed clusters.

Fermentation is indeed the magic at play in the making of wine. Fermentation can require anywhere from ten days to a month or more.

Once fermentation is completed, the clarification process begins. Winemakers have the option of racking or siphoning their wines from one tank or barrel to the next in the hope of leaving the precipitates and solids called pomace in the bottom of the fermenting tank. Filtering and fining may also be done at this stage. Filtration can be done with everything from a course filter that catches only large solids to a sterile filter pad that strips wine of all life. Fining occurs when substances are added to a wine to clarify them. Often, winemakers will add egg whites, clay, or other compounds to wine that will help precipitate dead yeast cells and other solids out of a wine. These substances adhere to the unwanted solids and force them to the bottom of the tank.

The final stage of the wine making process involves the aging and bottling of wine. After clarification, the winemaker has the choice of bottling a wine immediately, which is the case for Beaujolais Nouveau, or he or she can give a wine additional aging as in the case of Grand Cru Bordeaux and great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Further aging can be done in bottle, stainless steel or ceramic tanks, large wooden ovals, or small barrels, commonly called barriques. The choices and techniques employed in this final stage of the process are nearly endless, as are the end results. However, the common result in all cases is wine. Enjoy!

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You are probably wondering why the heck I am sharing the wine-making process with you. Well, here is the reason. I have been trying to figure out how to put into words the deep aching, longing, and yet peace of purpose I have felt in these last 9...yes, 9 months of unemployment. I have had trouble being able to express how or what it is that actually hurts but the other day it hit me. It's my soul. My soul hurts! And then I thought, " But how? What kind of hurt is this, because it's not like a cut or a bruise. It's not like my soul got slapped or pushed or made fun of." But those are the only kinds of hurt I know how to express. And then it came, the expression of this ache. Are you ready? Here it is. I feel like my soul is being rung out like a rag. Every drop of dirty water being squeezed out of me. I even have those moments where it seems the ringing is over. You know when you ring out a rag and then untwist it only to then twist the other direction and squeeze harder? That is how it feels. God twists me one way and all the filthy me stuff drips out. Then He unwraps my aching soul and lets me breath. Then before I know it, He is twisting me the other way and harder than before. Some more filthy me trickles out. This is happening over and over.

As I was considering this, my mind wandered to grapes becoming wine. I wondered how many times does that press come down on them before all the juice is drained out of them. Then I thought. I feel like a grape. So I looked up the wine-making process to see how much like a grape I am.


Grapes have to be harvested...at the right time. And only certain grapes are used.

I was brought into the Family of God at the right time. I was chosen to be a part of what He is doing, to be His child who He would use for His glory.

Crushing the whole clusters of fresh ripe grapes is traditionally the next step in the wine making process. Having said all this, it is important to note that not all wine begins life in a crusher. Sometimes, winemakers choose to allow fermentation to begin inside uncrushed whole grape clusters, allowing the natural weight of the grapes and the onset of fermentation to burst the skins of the grapes before pressing the uncrushed clusters.
Personally, I think God usually prefers the pre-crushing fermentation thing. I think He lets us grow and learn to walk with Him and start to see how He wants to use us. He begins to place His vision for our lives in our hearts and then it happens...the crushing. The Holy Spirit moves over us again and again pressing as much me-filth as possible from our souls.


Fermentation is indeed the magic at play in the making of wine. Fermentation can require anywhere from ten days to a month or more.
Then God lets us process what has happened. He lets up on the pressing and continues to define His call on our lives. He lets us rest and meditate on His Truth and promises. Even this can be hard but a different hard than the crushing. This is a hard that requires being still and patient. Being ok with just being here and knowing God.

Winemakers have the option of racking or siphoning their wines from one tank or barrel to the next in the hope of leaving the precipitates and solids called pomace in the bottom of the fermenting tank. Filtering and fining may also be done at this stage.Fining occurs when substances are added to a wine to clarify them. Often, winemakers will add egg whites, clay, or other compounds to wine that will help precipitate dead yeast cells and other solids out of a wine. These substances adhere to the unwanted solids and force them to the bottom of the tank.
Then after we have had time to sit and process and be still, He takes us through a different kind of me-filth cleansing. He runs us through the filtering of the Holy Spirit and Scripture and Relationship. the chunks of me that had tried to stick around get stuck in the strainer.

After clarification, the winemaker has the choice of bottling a wine immediately, or he can give a wine additional aging. Further aging can be done in bottle, stainless steel or ceramic tanks, large wooden ovals, or small barrels, commonly called barriques. The choices and techniques employed in this final stage of the process are nearly endless, as are the end results. However, the common result in all cases is wine. Enjoy!
You would think at this point we'd be ready to be sent out to fulfill our calling. Well, some might be. God may stop here sometimes. And, sometimes he may choose to let us go through the aging process. And I agree, that just like with wine, this can happen in various ways. Different circumstances, different people. But the end result is always wine...

And who knows what that wine will be used for. Maybe a great romance or the celebration of a amazing success.

The difference between me and a grape is that a grape goes through this process only once and the steps happen separately. As believers, we go through this process over and over. The me-filth has to be constantly pressed out and the God-stuff has to ferment and age. And the steps can happen separately or all at once. But I think God is using all of us grapes to make a wonderful wine.
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1 comments:

Marcus and Meg Asby said...

Well worth the wait.

Thanks, friend. I miss your insight.