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When Is a Wine Considered ‘Manipulated’?!?

What in the heck am I talking about? Can it be that wine is not simply an all-natural alcoholic beverage that is the result of no human intervention whatsoever?!?!?!?

Many wineries obviously want you to think that this is the case! When reading ads or perusing websites of many wineries, their message is that their wines are all handmade; that they are minimalists when it comes to the production of their wines; and your experience will be better because of the aforementioned reasons.

So at what point would a winery /winemaker be considered ‘intervening’ in the winemaking process?!?!?

There are some that believe that if you add water to your vines (versus ‘dry farming’ – depending only upon rainwater for irrigation), you are ‘manipulating’ the grapes and therefore creating a ‘spoofilated’ wine . . .

There are some that believe that if you use commercial yeast to inoculate your grapes, you are ‘manipulating’ your wine versus allowing ‘natural’ yeasts to control the process.

And the list goes on and on – do you add any acid to your crushed grapes should the wine need some? Do you use dry ice to cool down your crushed red grapes and allow for a ‘cold soak’ prior to fermentation beginning? Do you use glycol jackets on your tanks to control fermentation temperatures? Once the fermentation is complete, do you use new oak on your wines? Heavy toasty oak that will impart its own flavors or ‘neutral’ oak that will not? Do you use ‘200% new oak’ – use new oak for the first six months to a year, and then transfer into brand new barrels again at that point?

There are, of course, much newer ‘technologies’ that have perhaps changed perceptions about manipulation. How about a ‘spinning cone’ to reduce the alcohol levels of a wine? Or adding ‘mega purple’, made from grape concentrate, to increase the color of your lighter reds?

I guess my main questions are:

a)Is it the final product that matters, regardless of how it gets there?

b)Should wineries be required to tell you everything they do with the wine to get it to its final point?

I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts . . .


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