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winemaking witchery

Winemaking Witchery Series: Introduction
Essays on the use of Chemical Additives & Enhancements in Winemaking

During my studies for the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits, I developed an avid interest in wine chemistry.  That such a seemingly dry and admittedly even nerdy topic could be so engrossing was surprising enough.  But as I assimilated more on the subject, an initially shocking realization finally took hold of me: all wine, to one degree or another, during its production, is chemically manipulated.  What?!  At first, I couldn't fathom how a purportedly natural agricultural product could be altered and still be, well, natural.  I quickly learned from the perspective of enology — something that undeniably applies to food chemistry, in general — that the line between natural and artificial is so blurry, it may arguably not even exist.

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suffer the sulfur

Winemaking Witchery Series, Part 1: Sulfur Dioxide
Essays on the use of Chemical Additives & Enhancements in Winemaking

match_croppedBack when I worked in a wineshop, occasionally a customer would come in, asking for sulfite-free wine.  It wouldn't happen frequently, but when it did, I have to admit that I found it very frustrating.  And that's because, quite simply…

There is no such thing as sulfite-free wine!

Nevertheless, I'd come to understand that there is a great deal of knowledge lacking among wine consumers, and I embraced that sort of request as a ripe opportunity to dispel the belief that sulfur dioxide is necessarily a bad thing in wine (only in excess is it potentially problematic).   In fact, the every existence of wine as we know it today hinges on the antioxidant properties of this additive.

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burning question

Winemaking Witchery Series, Part 2: Alcohol Adjustment
Essays on the use of Chemical Additives & Enhancements in Winemaking

burning_alcohol_cropped"Hello, everyone, my name is Wine… and I'm… an alcoholic.  I have a problem and I've finally come to the point of admitting so.  It seems that not too long go, things were very different: higher alcohol made me into a more lush and lively personality, filled with exuberance and charisma — oftentimes, the life of the party, instantly likable and increasingly popular.  But what began as a good thing has gradually turned into an issue of deep concern.  I now see that inebriating myself to levels of 15%, even 16% alcohol only makes me boistrous and volatile, alienating customers and irritating critics.  The time has come for me to begin taking steps to cut down on my alcoholic excess and re-examine my priorities, ultimately seeking to live a life of better balance."

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generation transformation

Generation Transformation

Changing of the Guard in Wine Media
— An Essay on the Rising Influence of Online Wine Criticism —

The center of gravity in wine media is slowly shifting.  That, of course, assumes a very liberal definition of that term — one that includes not only internet news sites and weblogs, but the more interactive technologies developing and arising from the more static structure we've come to associate with online information retrieval.  There is an unspoken assumption among the darlings of traditional print media: those who take advantage of the democratization of expression and communication that the internet has afforded aren't true writers or broadcasters — they're merely hobbyists.  The attitude is tacit and lurks just below the surface, but it's nevertheless omnipresent.  However, the reality is that there has been a giant sleeping among the ever shrinking and more rapidly scurrying Lilliputians of the newspaper, magazine, and perhaps even network television industries.

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