What In The World Is Carbonic Maceration?
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There are quite a few wine terms thrown around these days, and perhaps none of them more obscure and confusing to a casual wine drinker than the term "carbonic maceration".
While it can be quite the mouthful (literally), the term refers to a very straight-forward process used by many winemakers to soften light to medium bodied reds as well as in many orange/amber wines. If you don't remember what those are have a look at our blog on Orange Wine.
Here's How It Works:
A sealed vessel (usually a fermentation tank) is filled with carbon dioxide. Whole bunches of grapes are then added to the oxygen free environment, where the grapes begin to ferment from the inside, using the CO2 to break down the sugars and malic acid inside the grape and producing alcohol and flavour compounds.
At the same time that this is occuring, the tannins are escaping the skins of the grapes and moving inwards to the pulp. Once the alcohol inside reaches around 2%, the grapes will naturally burst open and continue to ferment normally, either through natural means or with added yeast.
What Does It Do:
This creates a wine with much lower levels of acidity and tannins, and generally quite fruity in flavour and lighter in colour (reds). These wines are intended to be consumed young and fresh.
A Bit Of History:
Modern techniques for carbonic maceration are usually attributed to the Beaujolais region in France. Beaujolais Nouveau is a very young wine that uses this technique, and is released just weeks after it is finished fermenting.
This is another spin off of the carbonic maceration process by which instead of adding the C02, whole bunches are put into vessels without the CO2 added. The grapes at the bottom are crushed by the weight and undergo a normal fermentation which creates CO2, while the grapes at the top stay in tact and undergo the carbonic process.
These semi-carbonic wines and carbonic maceration wines are sometimes lumped together and just called "carbonic"
So now you know something new about the world of wine, and the next time you hear the term carbonic maceration you will be filled with confidence!
If you want to try something that has been through the carbonic maceration process, we have quite a few online to try. Check out the collection here: