Clark Smith: Removing the Manipulation Stigma from Winemaking

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Jay T.
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Clark Smith: Removing the Manipulation Stigma from Winemaking

#1 Post by Jay T. » April 29th, 2015, 10:56 pm

Provocative article by Clark Smith: http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2013/08/ ... quid-music.

Here's a quote:
In the best cooking, the hand of the chef is invisible, a guiding principle nowhere more central than in wine. Aromatic integration into a soulful single voice requires a well-formed structure of fine, stable tannins. Oak is like cosmetics – ideally invisible in its enhancements. Proper presentation of terroir requires great effort.

Critics who have never actually made wine can have no idea how much skill and attention goes into invisibility. The fallacy is to demonize manipulation instead of ineptitude.
Any winemakers want to comment? Comments from the peanut gallery are welcome too.

EDIT: Clark pointed out to me that the link above doesn't even link to the article I intended to reference. Here's the much more recent article by Clark -- the article to which I intended to link -- that contains the quote above: http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2015/04/ ... winemaking

My apologies for the error and any resulting confusion.
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Clark Smith: Removing the Manipulation Stigma from Winemaking

#2 Post by Todd Hamina » April 29th, 2015, 11:42 pm

No.

I'd have to taste his wine before I could agree or disagree with his views.
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Clark Smith: Removing the Manipulation Stigma from Winemaking

#3 Post by Brady Daniels » April 30th, 2015, 2:00 am

Just read the article and want to stick my fingers in my ears and say to Clark, "Na Na Na. I can't hear you!"
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#4 Post by mike pobega » April 30th, 2015, 6:35 am

Wrong, Smith, it's not the ' various tools as a chef using different types of pans' but more of the deft addition of seasoning ie: salt that makes a dish wonderful, but only after the best ingredients are procurred. Like a photographers camera, the pan is just a tool. Vision is still the driving force.
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Clark Smith: Removing the Manipulation Stigma from Winemaking

#5 Post by Brian Tuite » April 30th, 2015, 6:59 am

JMHO: Winemaking itself is a manipulation of the grapes. A balanced wine is the truest form of manipulation. Making a balanced wine from very ripe fruit takes a talented winemaker/manipulator.
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#6 Post by Mel Knox » April 30th, 2015, 11:10 am

I got a kick out the article. When I read about the natural wine people, I am reminded of the saying that a conservative is somebody who is a fan of a dead liberal. By that I mean that the naturalists seem to embrace 60s technology, but say no to crossflow filtration, etc. They also reject new oak barrels, oddly enough, since barrels have been with us with centuries.
If natural wine is good, then let's just use water power or manual labor...no electricity..to run the press. Maybe the grapes should pick themselves...pruning is evil...where do you stop??

On the other hand, where do we stop with spinning cones, Mega-red, concentrators, flash détente, etc??



Thirty years ago I visited a winery in southern France. They grew grapes next to salt ponds. When you entered the winery you were greeted by old oak tanks, everything traditional. Lots of tourists were tasating and buying.
Then we walked through a door marked 'entrée interdite' where we saw lab coat wearing technicians running around a forest of stainless steel tanks and discussed must oxygenation with the winemaker.

Maybe this is what people want. They embrace micro ox and oak inserts, they just don't want to know about it.
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#7 Post by larry schaffer » April 30th, 2015, 1:27 pm

Mel Knox wrote: Maybe this is what people want. They embrace micro ox and oak inserts, they just don't want to know about it.
THIS +1

I truly and honestly believe most folks just care about the final product and would rather buy into the 'romanticism' of the story rather than what actually happens to the grapes and wine during the process. And that holds for many, but not all, on this board as well.

I'm not sure I buy into Brian's assertion that the 'most balanced wine is the truest form of manipulation' . . . sounds too canned for me . . . [snort.gif]

But as Mel points out, where do you 'stop' when determining 'manipulation'. I truly and honestly think the majority of winemakers out there would prefer to be 'minimalists' in the actions they take in making wine. But that term is subjective as well . . .

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Clark Smith: Removing the Manipulation Stigma from Winemaking

#8 Post by Todd Hamina » April 30th, 2015, 2:12 pm

#1 is that "winemaking" starts when you have a problem. Who's not going to fix it?
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#9 Post by Vincent Fritzsche » April 30th, 2015, 3:02 pm

Winemaking is like taking a picture. You're fundamentally creating something that isn't "natural" but is judged primarily by its pure beauty and faithfulness to the natural subject. We might call it terroir. It's very difficult to capture perfectly, but when you do, wow.

"Manipulation" to me is all the things you can do in photography to not so much capture what was there, but change it to create something that wasn't naturally there. The person isn't beautiful enough so we "fix" things to smooth out wrinkles and like that.

Sometimes the effects are subtle and add to the result, but so often things are obviously "photoshopped" to the point where you can't even recognize the natural subject you started with. And it seems the hand of the editor often works out of insecurity about the quality of the natural subject, so that s/he is already planning the fixes before even taking the photo because they are certain the subject needs it and the result will be better in the end, even if you find the end product distorted and cold.

I find I'm most interested in efforts to capture what was there, perhaps with a little something like SO2 that I liken to wiping fog off the camera lens so you can better capture the scene without expressly changing it. Not every scene, and not every lot of grapes has the inherent beauty to stand up to this minimalist process. But when things line up right, that's why I'm in it. That's what gets me out of bed in the morning.
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Clark Smith: Removing the Manipulation Stigma from Winemaking

#10 Post by Berry Crawford » April 30th, 2015, 3:26 pm

Making great wine takes tons of skill and experience...from the vineyard manager. If you have good grapes from a good site it's just a matter of paying attention to details. Probably the biggest decision a wine maker makes is when to pick the grapes.

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#11 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » April 30th, 2015, 3:35 pm

Vincent Fritzsche wrote:Winemaking is like taking a picture. You're fundamentally creating something that isn't "natural" but is judged primarily by its pure beauty and faithfulness to the natural subject. We might call it terroir. It's very difficult to capture perfectly, but when you do, wow.
When I first read that line, I really liked the analogy. The challenge, though, is defining the natural subject. Wine is a man-made beverage based on a natural product---grapes. But where do the grapes leave off and man takes over? Well, at the very least, once you send people into the vineyard to harvest the grapes. The grapes don't decide when to jump off the vines, and they certainly don't make any of the hundreds of decisions that winemakers have to make along the process up through bottling.

Making wine is transforming grapes into something else. We can talk all we want about "faithfulness to the natural subject," but drinking wine is very different than eating the raw grapes that grow in the vineyard. Winemaking IS manipulation and transformation; we can simply argue over which forms of manipulation and transformation we find acceptable/unacceptable.

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#12 Post by Mel Knox » April 30th, 2015, 3:40 pm

Vincent,
If you had an ugly wine would you rather photoshop it and sell it to somebody or send it down the drain?
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#13 Post by Lewis Dawson » April 30th, 2015, 3:49 pm

Mel Knox wrote: If natural wine is good, then let's just use water power or manual labor...no electricity..to run the press. Maybe the grapes should pick themselves...pruning is evil...where do you stop??

On the other hand, where do we stop with spinning cones, Mega-red, concentrators, flash détente, etc??
LOL. These threads are usually into the third or fourth page before we get the argument that picking the grapes, or even planting vines in rows, are interventions or manipulations, and thus reverse osmosis and spinning cones are really no different. Mel, you and I both have been through those threads enough to know that it's bad form to bring this into it here on the first page. (Just kidding you, Mel.)

Just for the record, I wish to buy and drink wines made with minimal intervention, and I wish to know when a wine is (or is not) made that way. I am in favor of rather detailed disclosures being required for any product that is sold as "wine." I'm OK with web-based data sheets, rather than everything going on the label.

I'm in favor of the data sheets being required to disclose additions of water, acid, and sugar, along with all sorts of chemical adds. And concentrating machines, de-alc machines, etc.

As for "Faux Chablis"... f*ck, dude, give me a break. Is that even legal?
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#14 Post by Lewis Dawson » April 30th, 2015, 3:52 pm

Mel Knox wrote:Vincent,
If you had an ugly wine would you rather photoshop it and sell it to somebody or send it down the drain?
If photoshop is the answer, it should be disclosed. Like a singer lip syncing a concert, it should not be a secret.
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#15 Post by Vincent Fritzsche » April 30th, 2015, 4:12 pm

Bruce, I agree. The analogy only goes so far. The "natural" grape is itself a manipulated thing, unlike a natural setting you might take a picture of. But to me the analogy works because from that point you're either capturing the subject as it is, or you're looking to fix things. I've loved altered photos and wines. I've been bored by unaltered ones. So I'm not trying to be an idealist, just express what gets me going on a given day making wine. My ideal is wine that requires very little input, and my concern with a lot of wine technology is that it's not about salvaging wine but making better wine, if not the best wine. That's just not my path.

Mel, I'd photoshop it. The point isn't dogma, it's just that's not why I get out of bed in the morning. For Clark Smith, I think it is what gets him going and that's great. Some people dehydrate food, powder it, add it back to other things and play with proteins and create incredible gastronomy. That's cool, sometimes tasty. But if I'm a chef, it's a much simpler approach. That's just what I'm into.
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#16 Post by Bruce G » April 30th, 2015, 4:15 pm

Mel Knox wrote:Vincent,
If you had an ugly wine would you rather photoshop it and sell it to somebody or send it down the drain?
How about if we just re-define "ugly"? ;)
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#17 Post by Mel Knox » April 30th, 2015, 7:05 pm

A friend of mine works for this winery that bought a cabernet vineyard with the veggies...lots of pyrazine. They tried flash detente. This removes the pyrazines but concentrates the tannins. Now they can sell the wine.

Some time ago a wine writer called me up with the idea of asking winemakers if they cut their pinot with petite syrah etc...Would winemakers answer him honestly? Yes, I said, but first they would admit to cheating on their wives...with Boy Scouts.
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#18 Post by Michael S. Monie » April 30th, 2015, 7:11 pm

Jay T. wrote:Provocative article by Clark Smith: http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2013/08/ ... quid-music.

Here's a quote:
In the best cooking, the hand of the chef is invisible, a guiding principle nowhere more central than in wine. Aromatic integration into a soulful single voice requires a well-formed structure of fine, stable tannins. Oak is like cosmetics – ideally invisible in its enhancements. Proper presentation of terroir requires great effort.

Critics who have never actually made wine can have no idea how much skill and attention goes into invisibility. The fallacy is to demonize manipulation instead of ineptitude.
Any winemakers want to comment? Comments from the peanut gallery are welcome too.


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Post #33  by rachel mcdonald » April 26th 2015, 10:26am
Add me to the "it depends" contingent. The idea that a certain maturity level, or region, or grape, or winemaking style, etc. is always necessarily better than anything else is a bizarre concept to me. I just can't identify with entire idea. I'm not sure what we gain from over thinking and over classifying wine into neat little boxes. Why enjoy wine when you can hyper-categorize it instead?
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#19 Post by Lewis Dawson » April 30th, 2015, 8:06 pm

Michael S. Monie wrote: rachel mcdonald
 
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Post #33  by rachel mcdonald ....
Michael, it almost seems as if you are (still?) stalking Rachel. There is no possible reason for you to quote her here. Her post was not about this topic, has nothing to do with this topic, so you are quoting her entirely out of proper context. If Rachel has anything to say about this, she is capable of posting herself. Sheesh. Get a life.
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#20 Post by Brady Daniels » May 1st, 2015, 1:22 am

Michael S. Monie wrote: rachel mcdonald
 
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Post #33  by rachel mcdonald » April 26th 2015, 10:26am
Add me to the "it depends" contingent. The idea that a certain maturity level, or region, or grape, or winemaking style, etc. is always necessarily better than anything else is a bizarre concept to me. I just can't identify with entire idea. I'm not sure what we gain from over thinking and over classifying wine into neat little boxes. Why enjoy wine when you can hyper-categorize it instead?
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Dude, I thought you already apologized for the last incident, and had moved on.

If your point is that there are various degrees of manipulation, and we can disagree about where the line is (or the opposite), that's fne, but you could have made that point without quoting a post and poster you recently attacked.

I wonder why WB has a reputation for misogyny.
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#21 Post by Michael S. Monie » May 1st, 2015, 4:34 am

I quoted her post from the other thread because I enthusiasticly support what it is she said, in this thread.
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#22 Post by mike pobega » May 1st, 2015, 5:08 am

Gotta love CT for dimension and exposure to things my normal day fails to deliver.
Found this on my CT splash page where wines you have are noted by other members. This on is for 2012 Sojourn PN Sonoma Coast. Put some terroir in it man!

"Ok. Good fruit and smooth, but no distinctive taste. The winemaker should have incorporated some terroir into this wine. It is almost too bland without any distinctive taste. Come on' man. Make a stand and put something in it to distinguish it. Too conservative."

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#23 Post by Brian Tuite » May 1st, 2015, 5:21 am

mike pobega wrote:Gotta love CT for dimension and exposure to things my normal day fails to deliver.
Found this on my CT splash page where wines you have are noted by other members. This on is for 2012 Sojourn PN Sonoma Coast. Put some terroir in it man!

"Ok. Good fruit and smooth, but no distinctive taste. The winemaker should have incorporated some terroir into this wine. It is almost too bland without any distinctive taste. Come on' man. Make a stand and put something in it to distinguish it. Too conservative."
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#24 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » May 1st, 2015, 5:39 am

Vincent Fritzsche wrote:Bruce, I agree. The analogy only goes so far. The "natural" grape is itself a manipulated thing, unlike a natural setting you might take a picture of. But to me the analogy works because from that point you're either capturing the subject as it is, or you're looking to fix things. I've loved altered photos and wines. I've been bored by unaltered ones. So I'm not trying to be an idealist, just express what gets me going on a given day making wine. My ideal is wine that requires very little input, and my concern with a lot of wine technology is that it's not about salvaging wine but making better wine, if not the best wine. That's just not my path.

Mel, I'd photoshop it. The point isn't dogma, it's just that's not why I get out of bed in the morning. For Clark Smith, I think it is what gets him going and that's great. Some people dehydrate food, powder it, add it back to other things and play with proteins and create incredible gastronomy. That's cool, sometimes tasty. But if I'm a chef, it's a much simpler approach. That's just what I'm into.
Vincent--There are aspects of the photography analogy I like, but they sort of take you in a different direction. If you go to Yosemite, you can stop and take the same photo of the valley that everyone stops and takes. Or you can decide to wait until you're down in the valley itself, and you can frame a completely different perspective with Half Dome in the background. You can adjust the lens to zoom in or zoom out; you can adjust the shutter speed and other settings to get crisp shots of a waterfall or blurry shots of the water falling. Whether you're aware of it or not, there are hundreds of decisions you can make just in the process of getting ready to snap the picture in the first place, even before you get to alterations in Photoshop.

Even with photography, the photographs don't take themselves.

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#25 Post by thomasP » May 1st, 2015, 6:16 am

Someone needs to ask a grapevine what it aspires to produce--seeds or wine?
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#26 Post by Michae1 P0wers » May 1st, 2015, 6:19 am

One of the big problems with these discussions is that people attempt to argue through analogy far too much. Making wine is not cooking, it is not photography. I understand the value of comparative discussion but it doesn't really get you there, it can only help to facilitate greater understanding by likening the more unknown to the more known.

Like Lewis, I like my wine with minimal touch and I like to know if it isn't, but to be honest, I think we all kind of know when it isn't. Despite Clark's assertions (and those who join) I think that wine that has been "handled" tastes polished, filtered, and manufactured more often than not. Debating whether using power in the winery crosses a line is a classic angels on the heads of pins situation. All I know for certain is that the wines I like least are the ones that taste anonymous, as if they could have come from anywhere, and lack a distinct sense of anything.
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#27 Post by MitchTallan » May 1st, 2015, 6:57 am

Vincent Fritzsche wrote:Winemaking is like taking a picture. You're fundamentally creating something that isn't "natural" but is judged primarily by its pure beauty and faithfulness to the natural subject. We might call it terroir. It's very difficult to capture perfectly, but when you do, wow.

"Manipulation" to me is all the things you can do in photography to not so much capture what was there, but change it to create something that wasn't naturally there. The person isn't beautiful enough so we "fix" things to smooth out wrinkles and like that.

Sometimes the effects are subtle and add to the result, but so often things are obviously "photoshopped" to the point where you can't even recognize the natural subject you started with. And it seems the hand of the editor often works out of insecurity about the quality of the natural subject, so that s/he is already planning the fixes before even taking the photo because they are certain the subject needs it and the result will be better in the end, even if you find the end product distorted and cold.

I find I'm most interested in efforts to capture what was there, perhaps with a little something like SO2 that I liken to wiping fog off the camera lens so you can better capture the scene without expressly changing it. Not every scene, and not every lot of grapes has the inherent beauty to stand up to this minimalist process. But when things line up right, that's why I'm in it. That's what gets me out of bed in the morning.
The best analogy I have ever heard on the subject of winemaking. Did you come up with that yourself?

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#28 Post by Jay T. » May 1st, 2015, 7:49 am

Michael Powers wrote:One of the big problems with these discussions is that people attempt to argue through analogy far too much. Making wine is not cooking...
You say that like it's obvious. Not to me. I think wine is cooking. It's food. The winemaker starts with ingredients. The winemaker has a recipe, which may be modified during the process based on an evaluation of the ingredients and the product at various stages, tasting along the way. After a series of transformations to the ingredients takes place, the winemaker ends up with something that will be consumed as a beverage.

How is that not cooking? Making bread is a very different process from roasting a chicken (making bread has a lot of similarities to making beer and also involves fermentation). But both are cooking.
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#29 Post by mike pobega » May 1st, 2015, 7:54 am

Michael Powers wrote:One of the big problems with these discussions is that people attempt to argue through analogy far too much. Making wine is not cooking, it is not photography. I understand the value of comparative discussion but it doesn't really get you there, it can only help to facilitate greater understanding by likening the more unknown to the more known.

Like Lewis, I like my wine with minimal touch and I like to know if it isn't, but to be honest, I think we all kind of know when it isn't. Despite Clark's assertions (and those who join) I think that wine that has been "handled" tastes polished, filtered, and manufactured more often than not. Debating whether using power in the winery crosses a line is a classic angels on the heads of pins situation. All I know for certain is that the wines I like least are the ones that taste anonymous, as if they could have come from anywhere, and lack a distinct sense of anything.


Right over your head my point went. The author went so far as to say good cooking was reliant on the right pan to which I responded the pan is just a tool, as a camera to a photographer. My analogy did not go far enough to be understood I guess....

The origial article being discussed is weakly written. Focus there.

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#30 Post by Vincent Fritzsche » May 1st, 2015, 8:19 am

Mitch, I love analogies and that one came to me as I wrote. Most analogies only go so far. I always hope people won't take them so literally. I like them as tools to help get closer to understanding difficult subjects. Thanks for your response.

I suppose it's valid criticism to say analogies actually make unknowns more difficult to know, but I disagree. But I'm an English major, not a scientist. There are many answers, not one.

And wine is cooking to some extent. Get in a hot fermenter and it might be more clear. There are so many connections and I find them helpful to understand better what I'm doing and experiencing, and then when talking to the lay person about it.
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#31 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » May 1st, 2015, 9:39 am

Vincent--Playing a bit more with the photography analogy, take the example of Ansel Adams. If you asked most people which photographer they most associate with "natural" photography, I'm sure Ansel Adams would be either at the top or near the top. Yet, his photos are quite manipulated--he often used filters to help achieve much greater drama in the finished photo than you would see in real life with the naked eye:

http://www.anseladams.com/new-modern-re ... half-dome/

So his early photo Monolith, Face of Half Dome is rather "manipulated" compared to the actual scene you would have seen by yourself. Indeed, his career was notable for his willingness to strive for unnatural contrast and drama in the finished photo.

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#32 Post by Mel Knox » May 1st, 2015, 9:45 am

Bruce makes a very good point and I find the analogy.

In the world of photography we accept filters, strobes...older techniques. But photoshop?? Now this may be a bad analogy because perhaps there is a Picasso of Photoshop and he will be famous some day.

In the wine world we accept new kinds of presses, pumping over, punchdowns, fining, filtration, chaptalisation, etc., but at a certain point, Is it RO, concentrators, flash détente....we get a little nervous.
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#33 Post by Lewis Dawson » May 1st, 2015, 10:08 am

Michael S. Monie wrote:I quoted her post from the other thread because I enthusiasticly support what it is she said, in this thread.
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#34 Post by Mel Knox » May 1st, 2015, 10:43 am

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#35 Post by Lewis Dawson » May 1st, 2015, 10:52 am

Bruce Leiser_owitz wrote: Vincent--There are aspects of the photography analogy I like, but they sort of take you in a different direction. If you go to Yosemite, you can stop and take the same photo of the valley that everyone stops and takes. Or you can decide to wait until you're down in the valley itself, and you can frame a completely different perspective with Half Dome in the background. You can adjust the lens to zoom in or zoom out; you can adjust the shutter speed and other settings to get crisp shots of a waterfall or blurry shots of the water falling. Whether you're aware of it or not, there are hundreds of decisions you can make just in the process of getting ready to snap the picture in the first place, even before you get to alterations in Photoshop.
It's a good analogy, Bruce, but it doesn't work for fine wine IMO. Genuine complexity and distinctiveness comes from site expression. I'm really not interested in what can be added by winemaking techniques. The wrong choices in winemaking can create a lesser wine, but there is really very little opportunity to make it better. Given healthy grapes from a quality site, the winemakers job is to not screw it up. And if the wine is from a lesser site, not even the latest/greatest rockstar winemaker can create a truly quality product. JM2C.
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#36 Post by Lewis Dawson » May 1st, 2015, 10:54 am

Jay T. wrote:I think wine is cooking. It's food. The winemaker starts with ingredients. The winemaker has a recipe, which may be modified during the process based on an evaluation of the ingredients and the product at various stages, tasting along the way. After a series of transformations to the ingredients takes place, the winemaker ends up with something that will be consumed as a beverage.
Another good analogy, but I disagree for the same reasons I stated just above. Chef = Winemaker? Not for me.
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#37 Post by Jay T. » May 1st, 2015, 11:13 am

Lewis Dawson wrote:
Jay T. wrote:I think wine is cooking. It's food. The winemaker starts with ingredients. The winemaker has a recipe, which may be modified during the process based on an evaluation of the ingredients and the product at various stages, tasting along the way. After a series of transformations to the ingredients takes place, the winemaker ends up with something that will be consumed as a beverage.
Another good analogy, but I disagree for the same reasons I stated just above. Chef = Winemaker? Not for me.
It's not intended to be an analogy or a matter of opinion. Winemaking is cooking, at least as we typically use that term.* Your post above doesn't differentiate winemaking in any way. For example, the whole culinary localism trend is all about the quality and "terrior" of the ingredients. The fact that lots of chefs want to make food that primarily expresses the quality and distinctiveness of their ingredients does not make what they do something different from cooking, even though their concerns and processes differ from chefs who are into molecular gastronomy.

One way I might boil down my point is a hypothetical question: I think we all agree that both a restaurant chef and a winemaker could make a consumable "product" from the exact same grapes. Both could, if they wanted, design their processes so that the result expresses the distinctiveness of those particular grapes. The chef could also use lightly toasted french oak as a flavoring agent. Hell, the Chef could create a jam from the grapes and let it ferment using natural yeasts. He could then serve his fermented jam at his restaurant alongside some wine that was made from the same grapes using the same french oak. When the chef made his jam, was he doing something categorically different from (a) the other stuff going on in his local, organic, ingredient-focused restaurant kitchen, or (b) what the maker of the wine did? If so, how?

*Of course, we could have a semantic debate about what "cooking" is, and technically, it probably refers to the process of using heat to transform ingredients. But that's obviously overly restrictive when it comes to what we/cooks/chefs do to prepare food. If we instead use the colloquial understanding of the term "cooking" -- which I think is understood to mean "food preparation" more generally -- I don't see how your post forces winemaking into a separate category.
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#38 Post by Michae1 P0wers » May 1st, 2015, 11:24 am

Jay T. wrote:
Michael Powers wrote:One of the big problems with these discussions is that people attempt to argue through analogy far too much. Making wine is not cooking...
You say that like it's obvious. Not to me. I think wine is cooking. It's food. The winemaker starts with ingredients. The winemaker has a recipe, which may be modified during the process based on an evaluation of the ingredients and the product at various stages, tasting along the way. After a series of transformations to the ingredients takes place, the winemaker ends up with something that will be consumed as a beverage.

How is that not cooking? Making bread is a very different process from roasting a chicken (making bread has a lot of similarities to making beer and also involves fermentation). But both are cooking.

Because it's not cooking? It's making wine. Making beer isn't cooking either. You're using a very broad, very reaching definition of cooking. I don't think that it fits at all.

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#39 Post by Michae1 P0wers » May 1st, 2015, 11:30 am

Vincent Fritzsche wrote: I suppose it's valid criticism to say analogies actually make unknowns more difficult to know, but I disagree. But I'm an English major, not a scientist. There are many answers, not one.

Vincent, I didn't mean to suggest that analogy makes unknowns more difficult to know. I suggested that analogy attempts to make the less known better known through comparison through the better known. I just think that it has limitations, and that a key limitation involves understanding that the unique features of a thing are not always going to be understood by direct comparison to something else.

A good example is the winemaking and cooking thing. You can highlight the similarities involving ingredients and heat, for instance, but relying on those similarities apparently leads one to the conclusion that the degree of manipulation accepted as beneficial in cooking must also be beneficial in winemaking, because, they are the same. Right? But I don't agree with that at all.

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#40 Post by MitchTallan » May 1st, 2015, 11:40 am

It's a good analogy, Bruce, but it doesn't work for fine wine IMO. Genuine complexity and distinctiveness comes from site expression.
Define "genuine" in this context.
Define "complexity".
Define "distinctiveness"
Define "site expression"
I hope you see the point and if not, there is no need to go further.
You seem to be of the opinion that wine beauty that we perceive with our eyes, nose, mouth and brain is different from nature which we perceive with our eyes and brain.
The source of the pleasurable qualities and what contributes to that source is irrelevant for purposes of the analogy, ATMO.

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#41 Post by ericleehall » May 1st, 2015, 12:04 pm

Once, many years ago, at a winery (& galaxy) far , far away, I was forced by the owner's budget considerations (no new barrels) to use very old barrels with spiral staves (or it might have been some kind of oak teabags), for some nice Pinot Noir we had (2006 or 2007 & can't recall).....

It tasted fine for about a year after bottling...after that it fell abruptly off a cliff and tasted terrible....like burnt toast water....

I've never had a wine that had that happen, and the (post year) taste was like nothing I've ever had since...

I can't help but attribute it to the staves or bags, and I've never even considered using that process (or anything like it) ever again.
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#42 Post by rachel mcdonald » May 1st, 2015, 12:25 pm

Michael S. Monie wrote:I quoted her post from the other thread because I enthusiasticly support what it is she said, in this thread.
That's pretty weak. You quote me and then add "everyone's entitled to their opinion" at the end and when called out for continuing to act like a jerk, you say you enthusiastically support what I said even though you added your mocking little sarcastic comment about everyone being entitled to their opinion. It's increasingly clear why you have the reputation you do.

Sorry to distract from the actual conversation here, but I felt I needed to address this.

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#43 Post by Lewis Dawson » May 1st, 2015, 12:40 pm

MitchTallan wrote:
It's a good analogy, Bruce, but it doesn't work for fine wine IMO. Genuine complexity and distinctiveness comes from site expression.
Define "genuine" in this context.
Define "complexity".
Define "distinctiveness"
Define "site expression"
I hope you see the point and if not, there is no need to go further.
You seem to be of the opinion that wine beauty that we perceive with our eyes, nose, mouth and brain is different from nature which we perceive with our eyes and brain.
The source of the pleasurable qualities and what contributes to that source is irrelevant for purposes of the analogy, ATMO.
Mitch, they are different, wine and photography, IMO. In photography the techniques used and the effects created are endlessly varied and fascinating, if the shooter is skilled and artistic. In wine, the voice of the terroir is endlessly varied and fascinating, provided that it's quality terroir and good farming has been practiced. Wines like this capture the senses in a hedonistic way and also in an intellectual way. The "special effects" that can be created from winemaking techniques can only serve to obscure the site expression. They are easily reproduced and quickly become routine and boring. Wines that evoke the maker but not the site can be delicious, but they are never truly great wines. On my personal rating scale, such wines are often Very Good, and they are often Excellent. Rarely they can be Outstanding. But they never rise to Exceptional, or Legendary, or Near Perfection. (YMMV)
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#44 Post by Lewis Dawson » May 1st, 2015, 12:46 pm

Rachel, the Ignore Function is your friend, sometimes.
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#45 Post by Jay T. » May 1st, 2015, 1:15 pm

Michael Powers wrote:
Jay T. wrote:
Michael Powers wrote:One of the big problems with these discussions is that people attempt to argue through analogy far too much. Making wine is not cooking...
You say that like it's obvious. Not to me. I think wine is cooking. It's food. The winemaker starts with ingredients. The winemaker has a recipe, which may be modified during the process based on an evaluation of the ingredients and the product at various stages, tasting along the way. After a series of transformations to the ingredients takes place, the winemaker ends up with something that will be consumed as a beverage.

How is that not cooking? Making bread is a very different process from roasting a chicken (making bread has a lot of similarities to making beer and also involves fermentation). But both are cooking.

Because it's not cooking? It's making wine. Making beer isn't cooking either. You're using a very broad, very reaching definition of cooking. I don't think that it fits at all.
So what's your definition of cooking? What do you call the process of preparing food when it doesn't involve the use of heat? Whatever you call that, why doesn't winemaking fit into that?
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#46 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » May 1st, 2015, 1:40 pm

Lewis Dawson wrote:
Bruce Leiser_owitz wrote: Vincent--There are aspects of the photography analogy I like, but they sort of take you in a different direction. If you go to Yosemite, you can stop and take the same photo of the valley that everyone stops and takes. Or you can decide to wait until you're down in the valley itself, and you can frame a completely different perspective with Half Dome in the background. You can adjust the lens to zoom in or zoom out; you can adjust the shutter speed and other settings to get crisp shots of a waterfall or blurry shots of the water falling. Whether you're aware of it or not, there are hundreds of decisions you can make just in the process of getting ready to snap the picture in the first place, even before you get to alterations in Photoshop.
It's a good analogy, Bruce, but it doesn't work for fine wine IMO. Genuine complexity and distinctiveness comes from site expression. I'm really not interested in what can be added by winemaking techniques. The wrong choices in winemaking can create a lesser wine, but there is really very little opportunity to make it better. Given healthy grapes from a quality site, the winemakers job is to not screw it up. And if the wine is from a lesser site, not even the latest/greatest rockstar winemaker can create a truly quality product. JM2C.
Well, now you're classifying it based on "right" choices or "wrong" choices in winemaking. But it DOES come down to choices. Grapes don't simply turn themselves into wine--it's human choices and intervention all the way along, from deciding what to plant, where to plant, how to plant, how to trellis, when to drop fruit, etc., etc., etc.

One certainly can make choices in photography that will objectively "screw up" the photo--a shutter open so short or so long that it is overexposed/underexposed and loses important details. But if the photographer selects a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second vs. 1/10 of a second, that selection doesn't necessarily "screw up" the photo, although it can result in noticeable changes. Similarly, if you pick grapes drastically underripe or overripe, then you probably have screwed up the resulting wine. By contrast, someone might chose to harvest on September 20 and someone else in the area might select September 27--does that mean one of them necessarily screwed up?

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#47 Post by Michae1 P0wers » May 1st, 2015, 2:08 pm

Call me old-fashioned, but I think that cooking applies to things we eat. I don't call a bartender a cook, or a chef. I don't tell him to cook me a cocktail. I think that you are reaching beyond the true meaning of the thing when you call winemaking cooking. To me they just aren't the same thing. Can it be argued that the definition applies? Sure, but that still doesn't make it the same thing. You're arguing semantics, and I'm talking about what it actually is.

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#48 Post by Lewis Dawson » May 1st, 2015, 2:12 pm

Bruce, I'll stand behind my answer to Bruce above (post #43). The "right" choices are those that preserve and celebrate the voice of the land (given that it's a high quality site and healthy grapes). The "wrong" choices are those that obscure that voice.
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#49 Post by Jay T. » May 1st, 2015, 2:16 pm

Michael Powers wrote:Call me old-fashioned, but I think that cooking applies to things we eat. I don't call a bartender a cook, or a chef. I don't tell him to cook me a cocktail. I think that you are reaching beyond the true meaning of the thing when you call winemaking cooking. To me they just aren't the same thing. Can it be argued that the definition applies? Sure, but that still doesn't make it the same thing. You're arguing semantics, and I'm talking about what it actually is.
I'm not trying to be difficult. But I think you are the one arguing semantics. You're arguing about what you call things. I'm arguing that the process of taking a bunch of ingredients and preparing/transforming them in some way so that they can be consumed is functionally the same whether it applies to liquids, solids, or a combination of the two.

Why is this important? Because people keep trying to make winemaking into a special category for which both different rules and different expectations apply. I think this is just a post hoc rationalization. People can make up any personal rules they want, but there is no logical reason there should be different rules for winemaking vs. foodmaking.

Neither you nor anybody else has any obligation to respond to my hypothetical question above (post #37) about the chef making jam from wine grapes. But if you think there is a non-semantic difference between the jam and the wine in the example, I'd love to hear it.
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#50 Post by Lewis Dawson » May 1st, 2015, 2:30 pm

Jay T. wrote: Why is this important? Because people keep trying to make winemaking into a special category for which both different rules and different expectations apply. I think this is just a post hoc rationalization. People can make up any personal rules they want, but there is no logical reason there should be different rules for winemaking vs. foodmaking.
I'm one of those people who thinks they are different, and special "rules" and expectations apply. And you are not. OK. I'll bet that translates into you and I liking different wines, or different foods, or both.
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