Have the ingredients in wine changed over the years? Certainly the size of wine glasses have changed. I remember setting the table in the 1960s for my Mom’s dinner parties, and the wine glasses would have held maybe 3 oz of wine. The water goblet stemmed glass back then would still be smaller than a current size wine glass. Now at restaurants we get offered so many glass sizes from 3 oz to 12 oz, I got confused this summer when I first noticed the options. What happened to one size of glass and one accepted pour of a glass of wine? Now we will have so many ways to drink ourselves into we aren’t really drinking. “Oh well officer, I only had one glass of wine. Well yes it happened to be 32 oz, but it all fit in this beautiful glass my host provided.” 

So back to the ingredients. A bottle of wine used to be somewhat rare. Mom and her friends would offer wine at dinner, and guests usually had a glass, maybe 2, but again, the glasses were small. I remember chianti wine Mom bought in the straw wrapped bottle, a wine she bought for a spaghetti dinner party. Afterwards we used the empty bottle as a candle holder and lined them up on the dining room wall ledge.

And wine was a specialty item, specialty beverage, not an everyday occurrence or choice. Wine took time to produce, bottle and age.  It was not mass produced. Yet now we have box wines and box stores that sell wine. How do we keep up with the demand with only so many grapes, growers and the need to allow wine to age? Well ingredients. What speeds up the wine aging process?

This isn’t a wine making column so I have no idea, but my body reacts differently to wine than it used to react. Some might be my age, rather than the wine’s, yet I do suspect we artificially age wine in some parts of the world, and that affects the body. Other than sulfites, we don’t get to know the ingredients and amount in our wines. Maybe there are more or different kinds of sulfites now?

I was told wines from France or Italy, the original wine making countries, still make wine closer to the original “recipe”. I’m sure the best ones are considered expensive so I may not have tried them, but generally good wines won’t leave an aftertaste or heavy head feeling (even with just a 6 oz glass) or a low feeling the next day. A good wine, certainly a white, to be feels crisp, clear with a real grape taste. Due to volume offered for sale everywhere, to expedite such a mass of wine, we must be  adding man made chemicals and ingredients to get wine ready, bottled and on the shelf within weeks versus years.

Regardless I am sad something artificial has been added to wine, and that many of us feel it even if we haven’t pinpointed it. In wine culture we’ve moved from corks to screw caps to boxes. It can be mind boggling when we grew up to have a certain reverence and protocol for the treatment and care of wine, from the aging process to pouring. Or has wine just become more accessible and my taste buds are just off? Or maybe it’s my 20 oz glass….

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