Does It Matter How A Wine is Made or Just Whether You Like It Or Not?


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As many of you know, I love to partake in other blogs and wine bulletin boards, for these discussions are always ‘fruitful fodder’ for my own blog here. And believe, not a day goes by where another topic comes up that I feel is perfect to ‘verbiage’ about it!

There is constant chatter about being ‘non-interventionist’ when it comes to making wine, ie. taking as few steps as possible in going from grape to bottle. I think all of us can agree that, in theory, this is a desired path, and not only with grapes to wine, but with farm to table, etc.

The reality is that winemakers are interventionists, each and every one of us. By mearly making the decision WHEN to pick a grape, we have intervened. By choosing specific rootstocks to put into the grand, we are intervening. By choosing to age our wines in stainless steel or oak or cement, we are intervening. And on and on and on.

But there are many other steps taken by some, but not all, winemakers to go from grape to bottle, and this is where it gets a bit ‘sticky’. One discussion veered off toward the topic of MegaPurple, a product that was created to give red wine more color and to add a touch of sweetness.

The product itself is created from wine grapes, so it is a legal additive and is approved for use in wine. That said, it is associated with mass production, ‘industrial’ wines that lack color and depth and therefore NEED this product in order to make them palatable and, more importantly, visibly ‘appealing’.

Therefore, should a winemaker admit to using this, they would be ‘banned’ from many a discussion about ‘better’ wines because, you know, it just shouldn’t ‘happen’. These ‘smaller production, higher value’ wines obviously don’t NEED this product because, you know, they are ‘better made’ and more ‘artisinal’.

Guess what – this product, along with others that wine connoisseurs would find ‘unmentionable’, are used by smaller producers from time to time. And what about ‘oak chips’, created so that wines could age in stainless steel but still have that ‘oak flavor and aroma’ that consumers just dig? Again, this product is associated with lower priced industrial wines, but I know of a few producers who have used this, and continue to say in their marketing that their wines are ‘aged in French oak’. They just conveniently forget to add the word ‘chips’ J

Which brings me back to the original question – do you care how a wine is made if you like it? Or in other words, do the winemaker’s means justify the winemaker’s end? Do you truly care if MegaPurple is added if you like the finished product? And just as importantly, how would you feel if that winemaker didn’t disclose this?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this today . . .

Cheers!

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5 comments on “Does It Matter How A Wine is Made or Just Whether You Like It Or Not?

  1. Maeapple says:

    I like full disclosure in just about everything and I think if I like a wine, I’m going to drink it. I’m actually more likely to stop drinking a wine if I discover the winemaker is a jerk than if I found out MegaPurple was used.

  2. ptduffy042 says:

    When I got to understand years ago what “estate wines” were and recovered from the shock that all wines were not made by winemakers at vineyards that grew their grapes, the possibilities exploded for my circle of acceptance. While I am interested in hearing about the process in excruciating details, as you know, Larry, I’m most interested in that I like what is in the glass. If a specific process was done to the equipment (barrel toasting, etc.) or a different way to punch down caps, while I like to know, I don’t sweat it if I don’t get to know. That said, if I have two similar winemakers to choose from when making purchases, the wine nerd who shares the details will get more of my business. If the tech talk gets me to sit there longer while tasting, I’m more likely to buy. Final note, grapes and yeast can do a lot of magic if treated nicely. Having to use additives and adjuncts to change flavor or color ends up loosing the variability of a vintage. Will these additives hold up over time, or change in parallel to untreated wines? Will performance enhancements end up like a budget face lift as time goes on, looking skewed and somewhat awkward?

  3. dakasim32 says:

    With a few exceptions, I generally deal with “Family” wineries. Some are the growers as well as producers, and others out-source their grapes. However, I feel the real magic of wine making is in the skills of the Wine Maker. The tweeking of the juices to create the awesome bouquets and tastes I expect. Making the decisions, French or American Oak, New or Used barrels, or Stainless steel. That all said, if the wine does not strike my palate as a wine I want, I will not buy. I do not worry about if they are Jerks, as I try to make them my Friends, and jerks are not my friends.

  4. Wes Barton says:

    To me, with a healthy dose a reality, how it’s made directly relates to enjoyability. Not because of some preconceived notions, but by observation. It’s all about the execution. Start with great fruit from a great site, picked at the right time and guide it along a path. If an addition of correction is executed well, there is no problem. Where the problems lie are poor material and poor execution. Then it’s either lipstick on a pig or fixing what ain’t broke.

  5. Larry- finally getting a chance to scroll through your blog and this one hit home with me man!

    I’m learning more and more about what is ‘real’ and ‘not real’ when it comes to wine- but also with life in general. Someone above mentioned the words FULL DISCLOSURE and I really think that is what it boils down to for me.

    When I go to the grocery store, I am well aware of the type of products I’m looking at. I’ve been on the selling side and buying side, for both restaurants and store fronts, for a few years now. I guess I would say I have ‘inside knowledge’ and this has definitely effected my choices when ordering a glass at dinner or picking up a bottle to take home for the evening. But the general public is quite clueless.

    In some cases, I can appreciate what is going on. Especially if it’s out in the open about what that brands purpose is. I’m cool if you’re up front and tell your consumers… ‘Drink this now, we didn’t make this to sit in your cellar’ or if you tell them about your process. Hell, there is a market for that and like you said, some people don’t care as long as they like what they’re sipping on.

    But I recently came across a series of videos that really rubbed me the wrong way. Company X (not naming anyone here, you know how bad that is for business!) provides a service that basically takes the ART out of winemaking and focuses strictly on science. They help mass producers and little boutique labels to increase or decrease alcohol content, remove flavors, and even speed up the process to make the wine bottle ready so they can meet deadlines and market demands. Man, my heart dropped when I saw this stuff. It just seems so fake 😦

    I’ve always been the type of guy to say ‘DRINK LOCAL’ and now I’m trying to refine that even more. I want to support people doing the ‘REAL’ stuff… the stuff that I’ll probably never understand… but I’ll always appreciate it. I want to support people with a true passion for what they’re doing… not the ones in it for the money… which seems to be a growing number here in our backyard.

    Looking forward to reading more and picking your brain a little bit each time I see ya!

    The neighbor -John

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