Wine Notes: The Gap Between Cheap and Delicious is Narrowing
Improved technology ain’t a bad thing. Wine is not only getting better everywhere, good wine is getting cheaper. Bianca Bosker writes in The New York Times:
For one thing, winemaking has long fused art with science, even if that’s not the story drinkers are told. Ancient Romans doctored their wines with pig’s blood, marble dust, lead and sulfur dioxide. Bordelaise winemakers have been treating their wines with egg whites for centuries. And though the chemicals dosed into wine can sound alarming, some, like tartaric acid, already occur naturally in grapes. The only difference is that today’s winemakers can manage the process with more precision.
This technological revolution has democratized decent wine. Thanks to pumps and powders, drinkers who can’t splurge no longer have to settle for plonk. The gap between fine wine and commercial wine is shrinking as producers use chemical shortcuts not only to avoid blatant flaws, but also to mimic high-end bottles. They can replicate the effects of oak for a fraction of the price of real barrels, correct for inferior climates and keep quality high in crummy vintages. “It is one of the ironies of the wine market today,” the wine critic Jancis Robinson writes, “that just as the price differential between cheapest and most expensive bottles is greater than ever before, the difference in quality between these two extremes is probably narrower than it has ever been.”