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Grapethinking.com Guest Commentary on Wine and Technology

Note from Ed.:

Ruarri from the emerging and very nice wine blog Grape Thinking wrote a 300 word comment to my blog post on wine and technology (found here).  That time and effort (and because it advances the conversation forward with a subtle wit) deserves more meritorious attention so I’m publishing it as a post:

Where does nature begin and technology end? As so aptly put - chocolate could be thought of as unnatural whilst raw cocoa couldn’t be more unnatural. In essence - oak barriques are a primitive form of technology. Do we need to go back to Luddite wine? Have virgin maidens dance in barrels of grapes, crushing them under un-calloused feet? Imagine how many grape hopping virgins Gallo would require ...

Micro-Oxygenation is necessary to get wines in large volumes that are immediately drinkable and not synthetic tasting.

I guess you get high-street fashion and haute couture in clothing.

There needs to be such a distinction in wine. Though, few people of my generation are going to purchase wines that they can lie down for a while. Just like few men our age would have had a shirt tailored personally or been hand-shaved on a reclining chair.

(By the way there are a few places in Brooklyn where some Russian barber shops give awesome hot-towel shaves for $8.00 - something about having a large bearded man hold a neck to ones throat and be gentle at the same time that makes for a thrilling grooming service.)

The problem is that a lot of producers try to hide the fact that they use micro-ox. The solution is to perhaps be more honest on the bottle, and specify what has been done. Just like clothing, you know if there are synthetic fibres etc.

That way the people who don’t go to micro-ox will get there real due… and for those who do - well at least they’re being honest.

Lets face it - very few palates are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between barrel age and micro-ox in the first 2 years. It’s only with age that micro-ox wines begin to fall apart …

Anyhow - I’ve met winemakers who tell you as a salesman to never mention micro-ox, if the consumer thinks they’re tasting wood,  then let them think that.’ And it always struck me as dishonest.  There’s nothing wrong with micro-oxygenation… because even if you’re using 3rd fill barrels with Czech wood - it’s still costly. Micro-ox is
a blessing to small producers who want to make their wine cost effective. But I do think it needs to be stated on the bottle.

The other thing is, I’ve read a few things about nanotechnology and nano-particles where they can perhaps make wine taste like anything, which makes certain people very hot under the collar. But personally I think that technology is as much a threat to the fine-wine industry as Photoshop is to fine art. There are people who like to put trippy
visuals as a background on their desktop… but there will always be room for the artist and the painting to hang. Wine, like art and literature, is open to interpretation - and its tools are simply natural materials. Its how the natural materials are used that counts.

About Ruarri, the Author:

With a family background in the wine industry in South Africa and education at the University of Cape Town, I also attended the Cape Wine Academy where I completed all my wine education.  At the end of 2004 I came to the United States as a representative for a portfolio of South African wines and worked for ‘Cape Wine Ventures’ in the North East - around Maryland, New York, Virginia and Washington.  I came to realize that things in the wine industry were basically antiquated - and there had to be a better way of selling it than by sending boxes of neck tags and shelf talkers to some distribution house’s ‘POS Graveyard’ where it may or may not find its way into the back of a salesman’s car.  So, the steps toward Grape Thinking and Tastevine were taken.



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