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What if wine would label its ingredients as any other food?

The answer is clear: many of your favourite wineries would drop sales as you would stop drinking their wines.

Wine is food, not just alcohol, and we need to look at it as such. Let me prove it to you by calling on that historical and collective memory that we seem to have forgotten in this 21st century. And it is that wine was, neither more nor less, an integral part of our ancestors' diet (and you don't have to go as far back as 2 or 3 generations) due to its caloric intake, serving as a reinforcement to their fairly poor daily diet.

Today, although we do not see it as such, wine is still an integral part of our diet. And, like any other food, we are in our right to demand to be sold a healthy product. And for it to be considered healthy, all we need is some clarity in its labeling. It would seem very easy to think that we follow a simple mathematical formula: wine = fermented grape juice.

Yes but no. Being that list of "buts" quite extensive, since the authorities allow wineries to add, among many others: bicarbonate (to deacidify), tanenol, Arabic gum (to correct the bitterness and astringency), glucose syrup, glycerin, lactic acid, other acidity regulators, clarifiers, thickeners, preservatives, brutal addition of sulfur levels, enzymes, transgenic elements, active ingredients of chemical synthesis that have nothing to do with the natural ecosystem...

Did you know that most of the wines that you buy in a supermarket or through a big merchant are corrected, to a greater or lesser extent, with many of those chemicals? This being the case, wouldn't it be fair for all this data to be included in a counter label being you, as a consumer, the final agent deciding whether to buy it or not?

Thus, we would eradicate all these absurd labels that we have created in recent years around the world of wine and that do nothing but confuse and obfuscate the final consumer, causing them to refuse to drink wine. Conventional, natural, organic, biological, etc. feels almost like we were creating urban tribes! What the wine industry needs to focus on is in producing, as I have already mentioned, healthy products, and, for this, winegrowers must start looking at how they work at their vineyards.

Wine is made in the vineyard. Wine has to be sincere, so it should be touched as little as possible, without applying systemic treatments to its vineyard and soils, or correcting the wine itself in the cellar. Without all these series of cosmetic measures, we will obtain wines that are much more honest and that make the wine express where it is from, who has made it, and the work that is done with it.

The knowledge of our ancestors taught us that final wines are assembled in the vineyard with the different varieties planted in different expositions: some varieties will give you a good maturation, others more acidity, others with more nuances of soil, another with more volume. They chose their varieties concerning the soils and exposures they had. That was understanding the vines you work with to make a balanced wine.

This is the essence of artisan wine, a pure reflection of its terroir. The moment the vineyard and the winery are touched with chemical products, that wine becomes an industrial product, period. It cannot reflect the terroir. They are not expressive wines.

Most of the time, do you really know what are you drinking? As a consumer, you have to understand the chemical load that a bottle of wine has, like with any other food. We are spoiling our palate by not being able to discern the real flavor of the raw material. Food has changed and we have lost our taste memory and those grapes are not going to taste like grapes. Most of the wines you find out there are bulk or mass-produced by big winery groups, becoming almost a product of a laboratory: these wines are reinforced to supplement what has not been done properly in the vineyard (foliar fertilizers, systemic treatments... destabilizing the natural ecosystem of the vineyard), simply because the raw material that is being transformed into wine does not give the organoleptic sensations they should be giving naturally: they do not have a good ripe tannin, there is no roundness or balance, there is either an uncontrolled acidity or not enough, there is no good maturation of the fruit... so it is necessary to correct. Then, when grapes enter the winery, a similar pattern will be applied: Grapes will be sprayed with a sulphur cannon shot to kill all living organisms and, from there, apply their chemical yeasts to start the fermentations. This means that we are beginning to vinify from a dead substrate, obtaining a wine that will be dead no matter how many beautiful yeasts the oenologist put in it to obtain certain aromas to create a fake typicity.

Let me give you some food for thought: Could a "laboratory wine" be the example of "balance" if we are correcting its parameters everywhere and plugging in chemical things to it?

What they sell us as typicity is very standardised. How could you compare these wineries under the same level as the work made by the real artisans?

The most authentic wine is the one that has the fewest things applied to it, as long as it does not give us a faulty wine in return. "The courage of not doing anything". As long as we do not recover that feeling in which the hand of the man is there just to guide the vine, not to change its structure, we won't be able to produce great wines (and I'm not talking about pricing but just pure quality standards). Adapting the wine to what the consumer likes is not viticulture, instead let's try to achieve what the vine itself likes.

What the vigneron wants is to make us feel with his wine everything that he lives throughout the year in the vineyard. Authenticity is sought and we need to move towards an individualised world, where the work of a person on the vineyard, is manifested naturally, inverting the equation that I have begun with into:

Terroir + varietal + artisan = wine.

Miguel Crunia

Director at Fìon


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