General term (lat. macerare = soaking) for the extraction of extracts by letting parts of plants draw in liquids like alcohol, oil or water. The addition of herbs, flowers or fruits to alcoholic beverages with the aim of flavouring them is also called maceration. The product is called macerate. It is a purely physical process in which no chemical substance-changing processes take place. If this process is supported by heat addition or heating of the mash, it is also called digestion (see mash heating). The longer the duration, the more intensive is the extraction (leaching) of anthocyanins (colouring agents) and tannins (tanning agents) from the berries. The effect is further intensified by filling the empty space in the container with carbon dioxide.
The process usually takes place at room temperature and is called pellicular maceration. At low temperatures between about 5 and 8 to 10 °Celsius we speak of cryomaceration (cold maceration), in which case the substances are leached more gently with the aim of producing milder wines. Maceration takes place before the mash fermentation. Once fermentation begins, it is no longer possible to speak of maceration, although the transition is fluid. Special forms are the Metodo Ganimede method developed in Italy with special fermentation tanks, as well as Macération carbonique or Macération semi-carbonique.
All aids, work and measures in the vineyard during the vegetation cycle can be found under vineyard care. Complete lists of the numerous cellar techniques, as well as a list of the types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law can be found under vinification. Comprehensive wine law information can be found under the keyword wine law.