Craft Whisky vs Wine Industry

Despite all the controversy around craft distilleries, and small batch whisky (both written about in my book before they even became controversies), the whisky industry remains relatively true to the craft. There are a few exceptions to this, certainly, but many whisky enthusiasts are outraged over just a few drops of caramel additive to adjust the colour of whisky. Meanwhile, the wine industry deals with things like this:

The reality is that modern day winemakers have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to make their wines. Some of these are relatively innocuous and are considered as much a part of making wine as crushing grapes. Cultured yeasts are used to do such things as boost aromatics and finish ferments of high alcohol wines. Sulfur Dioxide and sterile filtration stabilize the wine by removing any lingering bacteria. Tartaric acid is added to adjust over-ripe grapes, as is powdered tannin. Sugar is used to raise alcohol levels (chapitalization), or simply sweeten the wine.

But there are many others which are even more intrusive. Enzymes are added during fermentation to do everything from help clarify the wine to boosting aromatics. Water is used to dilute over concentrated juice, woodchips and oils are employed to flavour the wine. Gum arabic adds texture. Products like Mega Purple colour, flavour and alter the texture of the wine. I could go on and on. And this is not even going into more mechanical interventions such as reverse osmosis (used to concentrate wines), de-alcoholizing machines, and micro-oxydation (adding oxygen during fermentation to soften tannins).

With all the press around bad whisky practices, at least we’re not micro-oxidizing and chapitalizating our alcohol (whatever that means).

(Via Chris Nuttal-Smith)