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Reading aloud

See under vintage.

The beginning and first step in the winemaking process. Traditionally known as the "Weinlesebann", the start of the grape harvest used to be determined annually by the official bodies and, according to old custom, publicly announced by the Gebirgsaufschießen. Today, this can largely be freely determined by each winegrower. The quality term " Spätlese" no longer has a prescribed meaning in wine law. In Austria, however, a declaration of intent must be made to the responsible municipal office on the day of the harvest for Prädikat wines. Optimum ripeness of the grapes has an effect on the quality of the wine. The phase between harvesting and pressing or subsequent fermentation should be as short as possible in order to avoid undesirable oxygen contact and loss of flavour.

Weinlese - Handlese

Harvest container

An important quality factor is the harvest container in which the grapes are stored and transported after the harvest. A high quality harvest requires small and flat containers (as shown in the picture on the left) to avoid exposing the grapes to excessive pressure and, if possible, to be able to transport them quickly and unharmed to the press house. This minimises the risk of damage and contamination by putrefactive bacteria. Depending on the country and region, for example in Champagne, a maximum pouring height in centimetres is even specified. The lower, the better, but the harvesting process is also more complex. However, the traditional butte is also often used.

Weinlese - Lesebehälter

Time of the grape harvest

The ripeness of the grapes is measured using a refractometer to determine the must weight. The ideal time for harvesting is when there is a balance between the sugar and acid content in the grapes. In the vegetation cycle of the vine, this is the end of maturation with optimum physiological ripeness, which is influenced by several factors. These are the weather (damp weather or rain with the threat of...

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Dr. Christa Hanten

For my many years of work as an editor with a wine and culinary focus, I always like to inform myself about special questions at Wine lexicon. Spontaneous reading and following links often leads to exciting discoveries in the wide world of wine.

Dr. Christa Hanten
Fachjournalistin, Lektorin und Verkosterin, Wien

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