Inside Out Fermentation

What if you opened a grape and wine came out?

While this might sound like magic or the best walk through a produce section ever, this process is pretty much what happens during carbonic maceration. 

Typically, most Gamay in Beaujolais is produced using the fermentation technique called carbonic maceration. This is a fancy way to say that the grapes are allowed to ferment from the inside out.

The process is used with lighter or medium bodied wines to reduce tannins, and it is very popular in Beaujolais as it helps to produce wine that is ready to drink faster than the normal fermentation process allows.

Photo by InterBeaujolais

During normal fermentation of red wine, grapes are crushed, yeast is added, and the grapes ferment with available oxygen in the tank. In carbonic maceration, whole clusters of grapes are left intact, placed in a tank, all oxygen is removed, carbon dioxide is pumped in, and no yeast is added. When this occurs, the grapes begin to break down their sugars internally, and they ferment from the inside out. Depending on the winemaker, the grapes can be left this way for one to three weeks.

Once the process is complete, the grapes are pressed and the juice is fermented with yeast just like “normal” fermentation.

Check out some excellent wines using carbonic maceration from Beaujolais here.

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