Wine Word of the Week: Crushing

By Kori ~ April 10th, 2012.

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is crushing.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Crushing is the wine-making operation of breaking open the grape berry so that the juice is more readily available to the yeast for fermentation. Modern winery equipment that permits sufficiently thorough crushing has effectively speeded up the onset and completion of fermentation. The additional advantages of this are that the rapid accumulation of alcohol discourages any activity on the part of wild yeast and bacteria. …. Crushing was traditionally done by foot, by treading grapes thinly spread on a crushing floor slanted towards a drain and bounded by low walls to prevent the loss of juice. Foot treading is a relatively inefficient method of crushing, however….

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Crushing is the first step in the winemaking process once the grapes picked during harvest have arrived at the winery. Crushing is the step in which the grapes are broken open to make the juice available to the yeast to start fermentation. In the past, crushing was done by trampling the grapes barefoot (remember the classic “I Love Lucy” grape stomping episode). Today, most wineries use a mechanical crusher.

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