What is Cryoextraction?

Malcolm Tatum

As a special means of preparing grapes for wine making, cryoextraction makes the most of modern refrigeration to make a very special class of wines. Here is some information about the actual process of cryoextraction, and how this procedure can make a big difference in the quality of the wine.

Cryoextraction involves freezing the grapes before they are made into wine.
Cryoextraction involves freezing the grapes before they are made into wine.

Used to create what is commonly referred to as ice wine, cryoextraction is a controlled process that involves freezing grapes. Grapes are picked and cleaned, then placed into a freezing unit and allowed to reach a temperature of twenty degrees Fahrenheit. Removing the still frozen grapes from the freezer, they are placed into a wine press. The chilled liquid drained from the wine press, while ice crystals usually remain in the press. This process is understood to produce the highest level of concentrated flavor in the liquid that is pressed from the grapes.

Ice wines are a nice touch for a glass before bedtime.
Ice wines are a nice touch for a glass before bedtime.

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It is important to note that the success of the cryoextraction process relies upon using grapes that are ripe and ready for wine making. Perfectly ripe grapes will have a higher sugar content than grapes that still need to ripen; this means the truly ripe grapes will freeze more quickly than any grapes that are not properly ripened for wine making. The juice from the frozen grapes will have a greater concentration of sweetness as well as flavor.

Producing ice wine in this manner is one way to salvage a grape crop that has been inconsistent in quality. Because cryoextraction works best on the riper grapes, any specimens that are not fully frozen will never make it to the wine press. This method of culling out inferior grapes makes it possible to produce a good quality wine even if the grapevines are not producing consistently flavorful grapes. In short, cryoextraction is a valuable tool in making sure there is some return on the investment in the grapes even if the crop does not turn out to be up to usual standards.

Ice wine made from the cryoextraction process is often used as tasty dessert wines, going very well with light sweets or as a treat at the end of a meal. Because the wines can be flavored with just about any type of citrus taste, the ice wines are also great for creating fruit juice and wine mixtures for brunches and afternoon get togethers. One their own, the ice wines are also a nice touch for a glass before bedtime, as well as a nice choice to keep chilled for impromptu guests.

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