We start from the basis that what is important when making a wine is the land, the variety, the weather and the production method. Knowledge of oenology is essential, as is knowledge of the land. Even so, sometimes, the wines do not go the way one wants and one resorts to the techniques learned in studies or transmitted between generations. Let’s make it clear from the beginning that they are all perfectly lawful and that not by using them the wines are better or worse.
In the statement I have given the example of the cooking recipe. The cooks, when a tomato sauce is acidic, rectify it with sugar or some sweet element to counteract said acidity. If a sauce is too thin, they thicken it. If a product is too raw, they finish it. I have given some examples so that we can see the work of winemakers without prejudice, since nobody criticizes a rectification in the kitchen and, nevertheless, in the world of wine, everything is demonized.
One of the things that is done is to use purchased yeast. Native yeasts are not always strong enough to kick start fermentation and may require a little help. Some of these little aids also influence the aromas and the structure of the wine in question. This is done in many bodegas, even if the indigenous theme is not mentioned or sold. And nothing happens hey.
Other things used are polysaccharides (carbohydrates made up of a large number of sugars). These serve several purposes: they can reduce the volatile acidity Caused by various causes, they improve volume in the mouth, decrease astringency and the bitter sensation that can sometimes appear. Blessed sugars.
The theme of the metabisulfites It is one of the most criticized. This sulfur-containing inorganic salt is responsible for the fact that the wine does not oxidise, has a longer life and, as an antimicrobial, prevents the wine from “scorching” as it is commonly said. The sulphites They are present in all wines. They appear naturally in fermentation or are added to help the natural ones. Here is a big war with this topic. When a wine label says “without sulphites“they forget to put the of”added“.
put the wood inside the wine and not around is also a practice to speed up certain aging and contributions from the barrel, but in little pieces called chips. Chips, cubes, pencils, etc. they are submerged in the wine tank so that the wood acts in record time. This technique is highly criticized, above all because it is not usually made known and a false aging is charged in the price of the bottle.
Add the must of one variety to another to rectify colour, acidity, astringency, volume… it is the difference between varietal and monovarietal. A varietal Tempranillo can contain, for example, 10% Graciano and 10% Garnacha, and the remaining 80% be what gives its name to the Tempranillo varietal wine. A monovarietal Tempranillo will carry 100% of this variety. I have given this example, but it happens in a lot of wines, red, white, rosé, sweet or sparkling. This technique is widely accepted, although not all wine consumers are aware of these differences.
And so we could continue with many techniques further. Some, more or less accepted and others, kept as secret as possible, so as not to offend sensibilities or to justify prices, qualities or even origins.
Sommelier and wine writer