Story by Naked Wines
Wine is one of the only products world-wide where you don't have to list what's in it. So what exactly is in a bottle of wine? Aside from thousands of grapes, what makes a wine a wine…?
Well, quite simply, the best wines are made from grapes and nothing else.
Take top Chateauneuf-du-pape producers Dominique and Baptiste Grangeon for example, who run a small family winery in Courthezon.
They pile grapes into huge vats, put the lid on (open a beer), and wait for the weight of the grapes to crush themselves and work their magic. The natural yeast on the skins ferment the sugar, producing alcohol and CO2 – which wafts away. They then filter it through some gorse, put it in old barrels, wait three years, and sell the nectar as it is. Absolutely delicious.
Where nature needs a helping hand however, producers will add other 'natural' ingredients to encourage the grapes do their thing…
1) Sugar. Sugar is to wine what salt is to food. If added carefully, it makes wines smell and taste more full-bodied, fresher, fruitier and altogether more interesting.
2) Citric acid. Not nice to think of acid being added to wines, but this is the stuff that makes wines go well with food. Cuts through the fat perfectly.
3) Yeast. Essential to wine. Purists use natural yeasts, because they produce complexity. Think for a moment how milk can be turned into either Camembert, Stilton or Cheddar – just by picking the right yeast. Well wine is the same. Factory yeasts produce quicker ferments but one dimensional wines. Natural is riskier for the winemaker… but makes for more interesting wines
At the other extreme, there are large-scale producers, churning out huge quantities of juice, with a slightly longer ingredient list…
1) Fish bladders, eggs, copper and milk are some of the weird and wonderful 'fining agents' used to help the flavour of the grapes along their way…. (although they are removed from the wine before bottling).
2) Caramel. Oh yes, much cheaper than ageing wine in those expensive oak barrels…
3) Green pepper essence. Does that Sauvingon seem a little too fragrant? Maybe they've been at the sauce again.
4) And the downright nasty.
BUT… don't let that put you off!
If natural is more your thing, try this delicious taster pack of Dominique and Baptiste's wines, produced as a labour of love with no hidden nasties…