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home > food & wine dictionary > cap

Food and Wine Dictionary


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 cap 

In winemaking, the mass of grape solids (skins, stems, seeds, pulp, etc.) that floats on the surface of the juice during the FERMENTATION of red wine. The cap needs to be broken up and pushed down into the wine frequently to help extract color, flavor, and TANNINS, as well as to ensure that the cap doesn't dry out and develop unwanted bacteria. In some wineries, workers employ the old method of using a long paddle to punch down the cap into the wine several times a day during active fermentation. Newer techniques include pumping the juice over the cap, thereby breaking it up and forcing it down into the juice. There are also specially designed tanks with screens fixed part way up in the tank. These screens stop the cap from rising to the top, thereby keeping it suspended in the juice. Other specially designed tanks rotate periodically, blending the cap and juice together.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


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