Wine Words: Cold Soak

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Cold Soak, also know as a pre-fermentation maceration, is a wine word that pertains to both red and white wines. Have you ever read it on a wine label? Or heard it referred to? Do you know what it means?

Cold soaking or pre-fermentation maceration is a selective winemaking technique for both red and white wines. It involves the maceration of the grapes at a cool temperature before the onset of the alcoholic fermentation.

The aim of a cold soak is to extract more aromas, aroma intensity and color from the skins of the grapes. In red wines it makes for a more intensely fruity and deeper colored wine; in white wines for a fruitier wine, but it also makes for a fuller wine with increased palate weight.

A cold soak lasts for anything from 2 to about 10 days at between 39-50 degrees Fahrenheit and the grapes can be left whole or slightly crushed.

Depending on the style of wine being made each and every winemaker will decider whether to employ or not the technique and if the temperature and duration will depend on each and every situation.

Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.

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