What is wine maceration? Process of extraction of color and aromas, very important qualities in winemaking.

Wine Maceration: The wine maceration process is the moment when the must and the solid parts are deposited in contact in the same tank. Various types of tanks can be used, both stainless steel and wood. It must be taken into account that both the aromas and the color are found in the skin, so during this process the must extracts color and aromas. During the wine maceration process, the aromatic and phenolic substances pass from the skins, the seeds and sometimes the scrapes, to the fermenting must to provide the wine with varietal aromas, color and structure. The objective is not the maximum extraction, but the optimal extraction, that is, to extract the maximum of good tannins.

In the wine maceration process, the must (it is not wine yet) is in contact with the skins and with all parts of the grape, and depending on the time (it can last between 1-4 weeks) and maceration conditions, our Future wine will get its particular color and aroma.

Why is the wine maceration carried out?

The maceration of the wine is essential for the extraction of aromas, tannins and color.

The maceration of the wine is the process that consists of the must fermenting or temporarily macerating before fermentation, in the presence of the skins, seeds, for a more or less long period between 1 and 4 weeks.

The substances that we try to extract during the wine maceration process are:

Anthocyanins are coloring substances (polyphenols) found in the skin of red grapes, responsible for the color of red wines. The anthocyanins contained exclusively in the skins, pass into the must from the first moment of maceration, as they are easily extractable in the aqueous phase, reaching their maximum value after 6 to 8 days from the beginning.

Tannins are organic substances with an astringent flavor contained in grape skins, stalks and seeds. Tannins are responsible for its color, aroma, structure and other characteristics. The tannins of the skins and seeds are also extracted by the must from the beginning of the maceration, but their release occurs much more slowly than that of anthocyanins. They provide harshness and astringency, qualities necessary for aging wines. You have to be careful, because an excess would mean a defect in the wine.

Polysaccharides are sugars in wine that are soluble in alcohol. Polysaccharides from plant tissues pass into the must very quickly at the beginning of the maceration, but then decrease due to their precipitation in an alcoholic medium. These substances can be polymerized with tannins, forming more stable complexes and taste sensations of greater softness and body.

How many types of wine maceration are there?

Various types of maceration are distinguished according to the method used.

1. Cold maceration. It takes place at a temperature between 15 and 35ºC. It is the most widespread maceration / vinification.

2. Carbonic maceration or semi-carbonic maceration.  It is the way of making “harvester wines”. It consists in that the grape is not squeezed, nor destemmed before covering. Therefore, we put the whole bunches in the vat. Carbon dioxide is then introduced through the bottom of the tank, expelling all the air and leaving the grape surrounded by an atmosphere of carbon dioxide CO2, for a period of 8-15 days. After this time, let’s discover the wine produced and the paste is pressed. Tear wine and press wine are then mixed and we let them finish transforming their sugars, with a normal alcoholic fermentation. It is used to make young wines, for early consumption, in many wine-growing areas.

3. Hot maceration of the vintage. Also called thermovinification. It involves hot maceration of  the grapes (generally whole) before fermentation in order to obtain a greater extraction of color. To do this, the grapes are placed in hot water (between 60ºC and 80ºC) for a short period of time, so that the skin is heated but not the pulp of the grape. By immediately squeezing the grapes, a greater presence of tannins and natural colorants is obtained.

4. Maceration in an alcohol-enriched medium, which is used to make some special wines.


Dr. Sofia Seccombe

My name is Dr. Sofia Seccombe, and in this small section, I want to tell you who I am and why I started this project. I don't want to bore you, but I consider that it is an important part of godlywine. It serves as an exercise in transparency so that the person who reads the articles can be sure that the information is reliable.

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