Three Reasons to Drink Small Production Wines

  • by Steven Washuta

1. Higher Quality. Good wines are made in small quantities. As quantity increases shortcuts on quality have to be made. Mass production wines are striving for consistency more than anything else, which means they are adding cultured yeast, likely acid or tannin, and sometimes even water or grape concentrate. Wine as a beverage is intended to show its growing site and vintage, but it is the goal to suppress these subtle qualities in commercial wine in favor of commercial appeal. It is no surprise that the most successful wine brands in the USA almost without fail have added sugars. Don't fall for this trap!

2. They're healthier. For the same reasons as above, once production grows to a point more additives come into play to ensure the wine is stable. There is inevitably more sulfur dioxide per liter used to prevent spoilage as well as more unnamed additives like enzymes, yeast nutrient, and fining compounds to make the wine consistent. Well made small wines should have zero additives besides a small amount of sulfur dioxide, and sometimes they don't even add that. Sulfur dioxide is a poison that prevents and reverses oxidation and kills every living organism in its path. Having worked with it directly I'd rather have less of this in my body than more. 

3. Drinking small production wines means you're supporting the actual people who tend the vineyards and the cellar. Buying most mass production wines means you're supporting corporate executives and shareholders. The lifecycle of an American wine brand all too often is to start small, build up a name, increase production, and then sell to a huge corporation who then likely dissolves all grape contracts in favor of cheaper fruit and more cellar additions to make the change less noticable to the consumer. Extremely popular wine brands are not what they once were. To name names, Meiomi, The Prisoner, and Kim Crawford have all followed this lifecycle and are now innocuous wines supporting corporations. Actually all three are owned by Constellation -- NYSE: STZ, but they are not the only huge company vying for your wine dollars. 

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