The Demons You Drink

IMG_0122Your ’82 Margaux? It’s got bird poop in it. The ’97 Brunello? Bird poop. And the ’66 Port? Bird poop.

The Huffington Post recently published and promptly rescinded a scathing article on all of the junk that gets thrown in Two Buck Chuck due to machine harvesting. Between the disgust, denial and truth there lies finite room for common sense.

Of course there is bird poop in your wine.

Let that sink it.

This is not to say that I have embraced the reality so thoroughly that, when I am cluster sampling, I directly opt to taste the affected cluster. I choose the next vine over and do not foresee a change in behavior patterns for future vintages, but I have no problem sampling the must.

I’m not advocating for a larger percentage of crushed mice in domestic reds or ladybugs in old world whites. I am saying that I’ve hand harvested, hand selected, manually destemmed and personally leaf stripped close to a thousand tons worth of fruit over my career and I can tell you point blank that you’ve drunk an unfortunate bee or two (no mice).  The more hands on and machine off the winemaker, the cleaner the fruit of course. The resolve however is in the matter, not the manner. I can do a great job of cleaning my fruit but you can bet your tail the wine will do a better job.

Clearly, those of us who have absolutely no fruit fly consumption threshold did not totally “thrive” in the 1300’s. For those with sensitive stomachs, wine was the cure. Our forebearers survived the past few millennia because they drank buggy wine instead of buggy water.

High acidity (3.0-4.0 pH) does a great job of killing bacteria. Think about how often you are recommended to clean with vinegar- same concept. Scientists have recently honed in on the bacteria fighting capacity of reservatrol while simultaneously not impacting your body’s natural probiotics.

If you’ve ever bought rubbing alcohol to sterilize something, then maybe you can guess where I’m headed here.

The 70’s found out that the tannin in wooden cutting boards dehydrated and killed food pathogens while the plastic and glass counterparts did not.

Lastly, we have good old gravity. If I let a barrel settle and rack out the top 9/10s of that barrel 5 times over a two year period, I can get it to pass through a 0.45 micron filter all day long without a clog. Two ingredients: gravity and time.

So the next time there is a lizard staring at you from the bottom of a bottle, yes, you should call someone. Barring that, you’ll be just fine.

Have a great weekend, Ashley

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