Maceration is one of those technical type words that we see in the description of a wine and how it was made. So what is it?
Put very simply, Maceration is the winemaking process of contacting grape juice and their skins (plus seeds and sometimes stalks)! It is used in the production of red wines to give them their colour, tannin, flavour, complexity and richness. Almost all red wine grape varieties have clear white / grey juice and without maceration, there would be no beautiful red colours nor rich full tastes.
The process takes place before, during and after fermentation. Prior to fermentation a cold “soak” maceration can be used. During fermentation, maceration is increased by regular circular and “pump over” of the juice on to the floating skins or cap in the vat. And once fermentation is complete, the new wine can be left in contact with the skins for an extended maceration to draw out more tannin and colour. It is the winemaker’s job to find the best balance of these processes in producing a beautiful red wine.