This method was originally developed as a means of producing red wine (as in commercial wine) but it also serves a number of other functions. Some ingredients are not amenable to pressing, either because the juice is difficult to extract, or even that no juice is present. Certain fruits, flowers, herbs and grains are typical of these, and if the recipe stipulates soaking for a given period before adding yeast, make sure that the must is sulphited in order to stop the growth of micro-organisms which may cause contamination.
Once the fermentation is under way, the carbon dioxide will force the pulp to the surface, where it will form a layer, or ‘cap’. Fermentation proceeds very quickly in this cap, and it is advisable for the must to be stirred thoroughly at least twice a day, to ensure a good extraction of colour, and to aid rapid fermentation.
A little warning about elderberries may be appropriate. Elderberries make an excellent wine, but the fruit is very heavy in tannin. It is therefore advisable to have a short extraction period in order to avoid taking too much from the fruit, for an excess of tannin will result in the wine requiring a much longer period for maturing before it reaches its true potential.
© 1978 Mary Norwak estate. All rights reserved.