As if the whole Natural Wine thing doesn’t confuse people enough, the new allusions to ‘clean wine’ are also creating some questions and accusations.
Avoiding the obvious fact that trolls tend to dominate the twitter-sphere these days, twitter blew up a few weeks ago when Actress Cameron Diaz—with friend Katherine Power—announced the release of her new wine brand called Avaline which markets itself as a ‘clean wine’. Their definition of a clean wine is one made with organic grapes, gluten-free, non-GMO, with no added sugars, concentrates or flavors. The main reason for the twitter-rants is that the stated criteria are exactly the same production standards applied to thousands and thousands of premium wines already in the marketplace.
Though there are indeed lots of wines made in a more commercial way (machine-harvested, specialized yeasts, wood chips rather than barrels, sometimes even with ‘flavor’ enhancements, such as those wines fermented in used Bourbon barrels), there are literally hundreds of wineries we represent that do the clean wine thing…without drawing attention to it. Ergo, we assert that those that hang their hats on it are doing it for one reason: marketing. The typical pitch from the people that make these clean wines is to list all the ingredients that a winery is allowed to use (not that any of them do), and say that their wines eschew most of these, therefore if you don’t drink their wine, you are drinking poison. Felicity Carter in a Vinepair article calls this ‘marketing by disparagement’. We agree. Blogger Alder Yarrow went a bit further and called the ‘clean wine’ thing a commercial scam. Pointing out that he discovered that many of the most vocal opponents of ‘industrial wine’ actually use an additive that is not necessary at all except to make sure a wine is bright and sediment free. Maybe that’s what they mean by clean?
Please note that we are not belittling people that want to try to put the healthiest stuff possible in their bodies, wine without a bunch of additives; we think the same way (sometimes). The issue here is that these are false comparisons. Additionally (no pun intended), there are indeed lots of people that aren’t particularly concerned about the purity of what they put in their bodies, and just want a wine that’s cheap and tastes good (why else would there be a fast-food restaurant on every corner?); these consumers have a right to be served as well.
We believe wine is the greatest beverage ever conceived, and its incredible diversity in terms of style and flavor and strength and cost are perfect to serve a populace that is equally diverse. Truly something for everyone. So if you want your wine to be ‘clean’, we’ve got you covered!
Indeed, there are dozens and dozens of additives wineries are allowed to use in the production of wine. Most of these items are benign and just help to create healthy fermentations, fight off bad bacteria, et cetera. The current bête noir of winemaking is something called Megapurple, which is simply grape concentrate—it adds color and weight/texture to red wines. Most/all of the world’s top chefs have used something called demi-glace, which is a super-concentrated stock which enriches sauces; we don’t hear anyone calling them out. Though Geek isn’t drawn to the more buxom style of Megapurple adjusted wines, most of his wine drinking friends find these wines extremely pleasing and alluring. And isn’t that the point?