Monday, July 30, 2007

What's in a name?

I'm upset... and I've been getting this way for about a year now... since I found out about additives available to 'enhance' wines. I've become more upset about the wide use of the term 'wine' when it's not really the stuff wine drinkers fondly pour, longedly examine then swirl, sniff, sip and spit often proclaiming in sometimes colourful terms the splendour (or not) of the liquid they are consuming. This happens usually among like-minded sippers... or on a special occasion, at a family event, a retirement banquet. Never at hockey, baseball, a night at the fights or a wrestling match where other beverages fill the bill. I mean at the special roast turkey dinner, a perfectly grilled T-bone, a delicate swordfish steak... where a beer or scotch wouldn't fit. It may be a festive bubbly, an aged cabernet or carefully paired flight of wines in the appropriate glasses. You pour a Coke into an eight ounce tumbler or have it straight from the can.... I don't know anyone that swigs shiraz from the bottle.

But wine has become more deceptive now that it's being doctored to suit and manufactured in high volumes.

There is no line to cross when a wine is wine and when it's not. Let's face it! There's enough mediocre wine available that using up grapes from other countries or adding a pile of synthetics to produce 'wine' isn't helping anyone.... the consumer nor, I submit, the industry. The plethora of doctored wines needs to be called something other than 'wine'.

A wine is representative of the winemaker's craft. It represents the vineyard's terroir.... the vintage and seasonal variations... the skill tending vines... the timeliness of the harvest. If the liquid in the bottle is a factor of a chemist's recipe and a marketer's targeted palate then it's an alcoholic beverage... don't call it WINE. There is no 'winemaker' in the equation.

There's quite a few words on a label that validate its contents: varietal names, the vintner's name, a vintage year possibly, sometimes a reputable Chateau or Bodega. They all infer the same qualities I would expect in a legitimate wine. The words taken individually are accurate. Taken in context of the contents they're deceptive and...
...the industry has become deceptive, if not deceitful, when juices are shipped thousands of kilometres in refrigerated containers to be fermented, medicated with this and that, then bottled and labelled with a local Country name and a local winery's label. To a certain degree in Canada the consumer can fall back on the VQA label. How much consumers can depend on it is a different issue.

Other industries are taking responsibility for what appears on their labels. Why doesn't this subculture of the wine industry do the same. When will we, as wine consumers, have a full disclosure of what's inside the bottle (other than simply 'Cellared in Canada')? If it's got more than the fermented grape juices from the winery it claims, it shouldn't be called WINE!

That's my opinion.
Wino Will

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