Inquiring Winemaker


Costs and Benefits of Additives

January 2012
by Tim Patterson
For last month’s column, I talked to and wrote about several practitioners of more or less “natural” winemaking—advocates of skipping the sulfites and letting the ambient yeasts fall where they may. Whatever else they do, these naturalistas are definitely not steady customers of the many eager suppliers of packaged enzymes, microbes, boosters and sure-fire wine enhancements.

Somehow, even while taking a pass on the latest aromatic yeast strains and secret nutrient sauces, a plucky band of them manage to make good wine, year after year, relying mainly on the virtues of great fruit and rigorous sanitation. My survey was hardly exhaustive, but it did suggest that top-notch wine can indeed be produced without an ingredient list that reads like the ingredients box on the back of a can of pork and beans—“Grapes, selected yeast strains, diammonium phosphate, N-acetylmuramide glycanhydrolase, pectinases, hydrolysable ellagitannins, teinturier distillate, diatomaceous earth, inert gases.”

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