There are two ways of making red wine in Rioja:
The traditional system . The whole grape is fermented in large pools. This is known as “carbonic maceration”. The resulting wines are smoother, with good body, intense colour and ideally to drink.
The other way, the grapes are crushed and destemmed, generally at the same time, in a destemmer-crusher. This machine separates and removes the stems and crushes the grapes trying to avoid break the seeds and stems.
Continuing with the first procedure of red wine making “carbonic maceration”. During fermentation, skins macerate in the juice in order to extract colour, tannis , aromas and fruit components.
The alcoholic fermentation usually begins from a few hours to twelve days since the moment the grapes are stored in the cellar. During this time, yeasts transform the sugar to ethanol and carbon dioxide with the releasing of heat.
After the alcoholic fermentation comes a second fermentation which is known as malolactic. This is a slow fermentation, it can last from 8-30 days and, it makes the wine disolve all sugars. During this fermentation is very important to maintain a constant temperature.
Once the fermentation has ended, is when the wine is transferred to another vat in order to separate de liquid from the solid residues and sediments known as lees.
Then the wine is filtering and fining in order to eliminate insoluble particles and organisms that might cause nasty smells, bitter taste or a not desirable fermentation or reaction in the bottle.
Then, the wine can be prepared to be bottled as young red wine or destined to ageing.
Types of wine:
Young wine. There are the youngest and fruitiest wines. Wines in their first or second year.
Crianza wines. Wines which are at least in their third year, having spent a minimum of one year in casks.
Reserva wine. Selected wines that have been aged for a minimum of three years , at least one year in oak barrel and the rest in the bottle.