Did you know that a 2013 French study found traces of pesticides in 90% of wines sold in supermarkets?
More on that in a moment. But first… Do wine aerators work?
This week, former winemaker Julien Miquel taste-tests one of the wine world’s most prevalent gadgets: the wine aerator. Does it make a noticeable difference in the way a wine tastes? And which wines should be aerated, anyway?
8 Dirty Secrets of Cheap Wine (Continued)
Much like milk, cheese, or corn, wine has gone from a local product, the taste, color and aromas of which varied greatly depending on the region and vineyard, to a largely homogenized commodity in a vast global market.
Faced with stiff competition and growing demand, winemakers wishing to compete for the average wine shopper resort to a variety of tricks.
When they can’t afford oak barrels... they add oak “flavoring” and other additives
When the wine isn’t dark enough... they add purple dye called “Mega Purple” (far more common than you might think)
When the wine comes out cloudy with sediment from the soil and air... they use “fining agents” like potassium ferrocyanide (yes “-cyanide”)
When the aroma’s not “big” enough... they add enzymes
When it’s too flimsy or sugary... they add acids (which destroy any subtlety in flavor)
And that’s not including the chemicals that find their way into wine from the industrial growing process...
We referenced the French study at the beginning of this essay.
A lab test of 10 Californian wines also found the weed-killer glyphosate in every single bottle (the World Health Organization recently determined that glyphosate, the main ingredient in RoundUp, may potentially promote cancer).
You can see why the alcohol industry fights tooth and nail to keep ingredients off of labels, spending as much as $30 million for lobbying last year.
They’ve stripped out all the challenge... the richness... the variety... everything that you want in your wine... and then added a lot of stuff that you don’t want!
There is a saying in France that a wine does not reflect the grapes it was made from, but the character of the man who made it...
What we are witnessing today is a crisis in character.
That’s why we’re so passionate about searching for small batch winemakers who aren’t afraid to shun the current fashion.
They exist. And delicious, complex wine, made with tradition and care, is out there to be found.
You may need to climb 10,000 feet. You may need to spend long afternoons with old winemaking families convincing them to sell you their wine. You may need to brush up on your Spanish, French, or Italian (only to find that they speak a separate dialect spoken nowhere else).
But once you taste the result you’ll know it was worth it.
Until next time...
The Wine Explorer