Why do we macerate the grape skins?

Why do we macerate the grape skins?

Maceration is the process by which we extract different substances from the skin of the grapes, normally once we have extracted the must.

For young white wines we normally want to avoid any maceration with the skins.

When we want to produce white wines with more structure, body or ageing potential, we will often do a short period of skin contact, which also helps extract the precursors of the wines aromas.

For rosés and red wines, maceration is key to the structure and characteristic colour of the wine.

In the red varieties of the Penedès like ull de llebre (tempranillo), merlot, monastrell, cabernet sauvignon, garnatxa negre, sumoi negre, etc... the grape’s pulp is colourless. If the juice was not macerated with the skins it would produce a white wine with barely more than a hint of pink.

Therefore, to make a rosé the skins are macerated in the must for between 6 and 12 hours. In the case of red wines this period could be between 6 and 15 days, depending on whether the wine will be unoaked, Criança, Reserva or Gran Reserva.