The use of this French term seems inevitable, because, although the English translation might be rendered as ‘crusher de-stalker’, this is both clumsy and tends to complicate the understanding of the process. The most usual form of the fouloir egrappoir gets the grapes off their stems in various ways, such as by being spun over a spiked drum. They then go into a receptacle like a large truckle, which has arunning across the bottom; as the grapes fall on to this, the action of the turning breaks up the fruit and carries it out of the receptacle, eventually to the fermentation vat. The process is quite simple but sometimes people who are expecting to see the sort of press that comes down on the grapes and squeezes them by pressure, cannot understand the action of the screw.
If the screw is speeded up, the grapes are crushed more roughly; if it is slowed down, the action is gentler. Sometimes the grapes – stems, stalks and all – are tipped straight down into the fouloir, sometimes they pass via the egrappoir and then just the fruit falls on to the screw; it depends on the type of wine to be made and the technique of the winemaker. In some wine regions, visitors may be informed that the harvested grapes are foules mais pas egrappes, signifying that the stalks and stems all go straight into the vat. It is these stalks and stems that give astringency and contribute tannin. Sometimes this is required, at other times not.