Wine Buzz Word: Extraction

Lately, when discussing and learning about wine, I been hearing this buzz word: extraction. What does this mean to the casual wine lover who might immediately visualize somebody pulling teeth when hearing that term? In the wine world, extraction is the process of taking the flavor, color and tannin out of the grape skins during maceration when the grape skins are steeped in the grape juice during fermentation. It’s a similar process to steeping tea. From extraction, the winemaker can develop the desired color, flavor and structure. Highly extracted wines are described as full-bodied, intense and alcoholic, with powerful fruit flavors and tannins.

These wines are often referred to as fruit bombs and this can be a criticism if it means that the wine is out of balance. The challenge is to extract the right amount of these compounds so that the wine is still balanced. And delicious.