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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have seen tasting notes mentioning “macerated” red and black fruits. I wonder if this refers to a cold-soaking pre-fermentation “stew” or to lifted alcoholic post-fermentation fruit of a new wine, or to something else?

—Davy B., United Kingdom

Dear Davy,

You’re correct that some winemakers use a process called “extended maceration” in which the grape skins, seeds and stems are left mingling with the wine to leach out more color, tannins and aromas.

Even if you might be able to guess when a wine had the step of extended maceration, it doesn’t mean the fruit flavors will taste macerated. I think when the term “macerated” is used in a tasting note, it refers to the more general use of the term “macerate,” which just means to soften or break down food, usually by soaking it with sugar or with vinegar or some other kind of acid.

For example, sometimes I pick out a note of strawberry in a wine. It might remind me of fresh strawberries, wild strawberries or strawberry jam. But sometimes it reminds me of the macerated strawberries (sliced, macerated with a little bit of sugar) I make for my strawberry shortcake.

—Dr. Vinny

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