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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What is natural wine?

As the organic food movement has picked up speed over the last few years, there is also a movement with organic, biodynamic and natural wine. Organic & biodynamic happen in the grape growing process, for them to be natural the process must continue in the wine making process. By not using or using the least amount possible any of the 200 approved additives permitted in wine, this also includes the technological manipulation(spinning cones, laboratory cultivated yeast,etc) that will take away what the individual terror & what mother nature has provided. This is the way wine has been made for centuries before technology was introduced.

The definition is similar to the German Law of Purity for beer, where only water, barley and hops are used. Natural wine is just grape juice and nothing else.

Some aspects to consider in natural wine...
Avoiding chemical herbicides.
Using indigenous yeasts.
Hand picked grapes.
Low to no filtering & sulfites.
No chaptilization.
No adding of powdered tannins.
Respecting of the grapes including rough handling,pumping or micro-oxygenation.

Natural winemaking represents the true expression of terroir and prevents wine varietals from all tasting the same.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Psychology of Wine

As wine has become more mainstream in the last 15 years, it’s no doubt the wine industry now has a big spectrum from the small wineries who have a passion for wine making or the big bulk producer where it has become more about the dollars and cents of it all. Along with the growth has been the marketing of wine making it more or less a commodity in some circles. Marketers using psychology to get in your head and trying to get you to buy their wine. Whether it’s seeing a lot of the product making you think “there’s a lot so, it has to be good” mentality or just getting you to look at it and taking a mental note by using colored boxes, funky labels or sponsorships to catch your eye.

The wine media is just as guilty of getting in your head with its 100 point ratings system in some cases. Equating a number with the opinion of a few select people, who usually look for different things than the casual drinker will. You already know you like the wine before you pull the cork as you’ve subliminally told yourself based on the score or price for that matter. Not to mention you probably just looked at the score and didn’t even read the comments. If you did you would probably buy lesser scored wines as some sound really good.

The above is based on what’s outside the bottle, what about the wine itself? Manipulating it to make you like it with, added sugar (chaptalization) to drive up alcohol content, not to mention the big oak and fruit people seem to gravitate to. Having done plenty of R&D, large wine companies know how to market what is the best flavor profile to please the masses to be repeat customers.

Be assured there are things you can do to avoid letting the marketers get in your head and influence your decision making process. One way is by keeping an open mind, realizing everybody’s objective is to SELL. Whether it the actual winery and it’s packaging or the magazines, bloggers and it’s ratings system to sell magazines and ad space(Conflict of Interest??) or build traffic. Everybody has an agenda so take everything with a grain of salt..and a glass of wine.