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Pigeage | The Wine Virgin
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Pigeage

March 18, 2008

Does pigeage still exist today as a way of getting the juice out of wine? - Jonas in Asheville, NC

Pigeage is a term for the traditional stomping of grapes in open fermentation tanks. This was practiced long ago and there are even ancient sites still around where you find stone pits that were hewn from the ground for this very purpose.

And yes for small scale wine making, the grapes are sometimes crushed by pigeage where the vintner uses their feet like a homemade wine press. But with the advent of mechanical pressers, these are used instead to mass produce wine on a very large scale and to increase their overall output of wine per ton.

Even so, pressing is not always a necessary act of wine making. If the grapes can be crushed by pigeage, the vintner is able to acquire a considerable amount of juice which is called free-run juice. Typically this free-run juice is of a higher quality than what you would normally find with press juice.

But what a fun way to make a few bottles with your friends just by hoping around in a bucket and stomping away. Hopefully for your sake you, you and your friends have clean-uninfected feet. Cheers!!

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