Wine’s “COLD SOAK”

Winemaking is a complex and varied process.  From the hands off approach of letting the natural yeast in the grapes (or more specifically on the grape skins) perform the fermentation to the highly controlled sorting, inoculation, etc.   Winemaking can be very hands on OR equally hands off.

I just finished reading a very interesting article by Tim Patterson in Wines & Vines about the “cold soak”.  The cold soak is performed on just harvested grapes (“must”) before fermentation.  Basically, one takes the MUST, and allows it to soak together with dry ice for as little as several hours, as many as several days or I have even heard weeks.

(great pic of a cold soak from my friends over at stomping girl wines)

By maintaining a cold temperature, fermentation is supposed to be delayed.  And the soaking process supposedly does several things.  The cold soak is supposed to extract; better color, better aromatics, better flavors, and apparently even softer tannins.

Tim Patterson of Wines & Vines really investigates whether or not cold soaking actually accomplishes what it is said to accomplish.  And his finding seems to be inconclusive; without more studies we really don’t know.  There are those that swear by it and others who think it is a crock.  The article is a worthwhile read for those interested in the art of winemaking.

Though I am not one for scientifically produced wines, there must be some merit to mimicking a process done elsewhere that produced results one might be seeking.  So if the fermentation of Pinot Noir in Bungundy was done in cool temperatures, stalling fermentation and allowing a natural cold soak, then maybe attempting to scientifically recreate this atmosphere has something to it.  Either way…

Happy soaked or unsoaked wine tasting.



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