White Winemaking

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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white winemaking, the production of wines with almost imperceptible to golden colour. If the juice is separated from the grape skins gently and soon enough (as in the production of champagne), white wines can be made from black-skinned grapes, but the great majority of white wines are made from grapes with yellow or green skins. White wines can be made from grapes of all hues, so long as there is no skin contact or maceration with dark-skinned grapes. The only exception to this is the red-fleshed teinturiers. White wines are distinguished from their red counterparts by their absence of anthocyanins and pigmented tannins. As with any winemaking operation, the production of white wines generally entails crushing and destemming the grape clusters on arrival at the winery, although occasionally white grapes may be crushed beforehand at a field pressing station (and see also whole-bunch pressing). After crushing and destemming, the sweet pomace requires draining and pressing to separate the liquid from the solids. The timing of the separation of juice from solids constitutes the major difference between red and white winemaking: before fermentation for whites and afterwards for reds.