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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Is It What’s Inside that Really Counts?

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One of the challenges making and trying to sell wine in this industry is that what’s inside the bottle seems to be the least important thing in the process at times. This may sound strange, but let me explain . . .

Visual and verbal clues help ‘guide’ us in everyday life. Your senses are honed to quickly get information to your brain – that doesn’t ‘look’ right or that ‘smells’ great. It’s human nature, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

When it comes to subjective stuff, though, it certainly can wreak havoc on trying to ‘evaluate’ something on face value. Let’s take wine, for instance. I make a dryish Gewurztraminer. You would not believe the types of responses I get when I mention this – and before a drop is even poured. Many many people simply say – no, I don’t want to try that because I don’t like sweet wines’ or  ‘I really want to try this because I like sweet wines.’  A ‘picture’ is set with their senses as to what to expect when the wine is poured . . .

Those that don’t like sweet wines will begrudgingly try the wine – after I ‘force’ them to, of course – but their mind is already anticipating a specific experience with the product based on the variety itself and they will perceive it ‘with bias’. The same is true with those who like really sweet wine.

How do I ‘get around’ some of these biases? I work as hard as I can to actually have someone taste the wine itself and judge it for what it is. I also do not call this wine a gewürztraminer, but instead call it The Outlier J

Or take rose.  Yep, it’s certainly ‘hip’ to like rose these days, and you’re seeing more and more of them produced in drier, crisper, more ‘food friendly’ style. That said, just showing someone the bottle will illicit an immediate reaction because of the color alone. Many will not even want to try the wine. Why? ‘I don’t drink white zinfandels’ is often the reasoning I here.  There’s nothing wrong with white zins at all, if that’s what you like, but the visual color clue is immediately telling them what to ‘expect’ about the wine.

And there have been tons of studies about how the label itself affects how one ‘feels’ about the product and whether or not you are drawn to wanting to pick it up off of the shelve if in a retail location.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever found yourself excited or not excited about a wine because of the color of the wine itself, descriptors used, the label, etc.? I’m curious to hear and to get a discussion going on the subject.

Cheers!