Technique

Benefit from a Cold Soak: Tips from the Pros

The benefits of cold soaking are debated among winemakers, but those who subscribe to the technique of keeping (usually red) grapes cool for a few days prior to fermentation swear by it. Two pros share their reasons why they always cold soak, and how you can do it at home too. Ann Moller-Racke, Blue Farm (Sonoma, California) We produce two varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and use cold soaking for the Pinot Noir. Cold soaking accomplishes three things: 1. Mixing – It is important to homogenize the grape mixture in the tank to get an accurate chemistry profile. One to two punch downs per day will accomplish this, since utilizing a pump would risk damaging the skins and grinding seeds. 2. Extraction – The juice is saturated with color and flavor pre-cursors before fermentation starts. However, I prefer to frontload the wine, and then be more cautious with the post-fermentation extraction in the presence of alcohol — a more powerful solvent. 3. Acidity – Perhaps the most important reason to cold soak is to observe the shift in pH over