Wine, Water and Propaganda

Plans to legalise the addition of water to the winemaking process in South Africa are going ahead unabated, although those attempting to push this legislation through must have been pretty unnerved by what a few top winemakers had to say in Tuesday’s edition of Die Burger newspaper. De Wet Viljoen from Neethlingshof and Nitida’s Bernard Veller were but two of the dissenting voices. And you can bet your bottom peso that most winemakers worth their weight in yeast think that allowing water to be added to wine will be a shot in the foot for the reputation of South African wines. “Cheap and cheerful” is the image the industry is attempting to rid itself of, and one doubts whether the tag of watered-down wines is going to help this valiant effort.

Hell, even Wines of South Africa (Wosa) added its voice to the anti-water lobby, despite the fact that those big-production chaps supporting the move to hydrate are predominantly responsible for the Wosa budget and the paying of the organisation’s lunch bills and production of barbecue cookery books.

Through all this I have been alerted to an interesting aside. The University of Stellenbosch recently did a study on water quality in the Stellenbosch area, and there was a particularly alarming statistic. Tap water in Stellenbosch has a TCA content of 4 nanogram per litre. Taking into account that 1 nanogram of TCA is generally detectable in wine, one wonders what the effect would be of adding this water to the process ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ legally.

This scientific research throws cold water into the face of the one-eyed cork Fatwa who hysterically blame cork for any trace of TCA. With tanks being washed and a lot of water splashing about the cellar in any event, one has to wonder how much TCA is blamed on cork when water is actually the culprit?

How apt that Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery bumper-sticker from the 1980s is today: Conserve Water, Drink Wine.

Emile Joubert

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2 thoughts on “Wine, Water and Propaganda

  1. Someone should widely publish a list of what wine producers support this move to crappify their wines. If it’s a good thing that will receive their consumers’ approval, they should be proud to have their brand associated with it, right?

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