Chapeau

by Staff Writer - A. Heinzman | June 11, 2012

Chapeau is a winemaking term referring to the cap of grape skins and other solids that form on top of the must of red wine. The formation of a chapeau is a natural effect of fermentation that must be monitored and controlled.

During the fermentation of the must of red wine, gas bubbles of carbon dioxide rise to the surface of the must. During the trip to the surface of the must, the bubbles of carbon dioxide raise grape skins and other solids to the surface. This natural process results in the formation of a chapeau on top of the must. The resulting chapeau presents a dangerous situation. Acetic bacteria present within the chapeau combined with a supply of oxygen can turn the fermenting must into vinegar. Due to this problem, the formation of a chapeau must be avoided. Different techniques are utilized to prevent chapeau formation, including periodically breaking up the chapeau or fermenting the must in an environment where a chapeau cannot form.

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