What does "punching down the cap" & other winemaker phrases mean?

on 09/11/10 at 8:08 am


Taking wine from a cask with a 'wine thief'

Every niche in society has their own unique phrases, and winemakers are no different. Some of their wording can make you wonder what’s going on.

Punching down the cap, and must ~ when grapes leave the crusher the slurry is now called must. The fermentation process begins when yeast is added to a bin of must. As the yeast feeds on the sugar it will produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide pushes the seeds and skins to the surface, and a layer forms that will rise several inches above the liquid level. This is called the cap. Winemakers must use a cap punch to push the cap back into the wine and allow it to mix. This layer contains everything that gives wine tannins, which you recognize as a fuzzy tactile sensation on your tongue. Also, because grape juice is clear, the color comes from the grape skins.

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