C is for cap

The cap (chapeau in French) is the layer of grape solids that forms on the surface during red wine fermentation. 

Grape solids forming on the top of fermenting Mourvedre at A Donkey and Goat Winery in CA.

Fermenting Mourvedre at A Donkey and Goat winery in CA.

I got to sample a grape and it was like eating pop rocks, because of the CO2 forming as a by-product of fermentation.  The cap limits the oxygen available to the yeast, encouraging them to eat away at the grape sugar to form alcohol.  

The cap must be broken up and mixed back in with the liquid below, however, in order to extract the phenolics, which add color, flavor and longevity to the wine.  Phenolics can be found throughout the grape, but are particularly rich in the skins, seeds and stems (the solids!).  On a smaller production scale, the winemaker will “punch down” the cap several times per day.

Jared showing off his stainless punch down tool.

The punch down tool breaking through the cap. Notice the bubbles. Jared told me the cap would support his weight and he's not a little guy (he volunteered that information, too).

On a larger production scale, the winery will “pump over” the cap.

A pump doing its thing at Miner Family in CA.

We recently had an illustration created to use in our classes to explain how pumping over works.  Thanks, Laurel.

Flushing the liquid back over the cap to break it up, using a pump. My favorite part of this illustration is the female winemaker.


Filed under Alphabet Soup, Wine

2 responses to “C is for cap

  1. mrzitro

    cool. Yes, I favor female winemakers too!

  2. “இயக க நர டம ச ல க ள வ கள , ச ல சந த கங கள , ச ல ஆல சன கள . . .”அண ண . . . ஆல சன ச ல ற அளவ க க அத வ ம ம ம ப இயக க னர கள க க . . .ச ல ற அளவ க க ந ங க develop ஆனத ர ம ப Happy அண ண .Thanks

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