The term fake wine is becoming increasingly popular, so I delved in a bit to see what exactly is meant by fake wine. It turns out that fake wine isn’t actually fake. It’s real wine that just happens to have characteristics that aren’t highly thought of by most wine lovers:
- Mass-produced grapes
- Large, automated farms
- Soil that is worked up and overworked to optimally support grapevines
- High reliance on modern technology — automatic pickers, crushers, heaters, coolers, etc.
- Automatic addition of precise amounts of sulfurs, yeasts, sugars, etc., to mimic the fermentation and aging process.
The end result is wine, in the truest sense of the word. You may take exception to how it is manufactured, and you may take exception to its taste, but it is actual wine.
The growth of manufactured wine, as I prefer to call it, is due to market demand, price point and taste. Manufactured wine appeals to a broader mass of consumers, with its comfortable price point and sweeter, generic taste. It is a more reliable product for merchandisers, too.
So why is the word “fake” used to describe these wines? I think the main beef wine lovers have with manufactured wine is when it pretends to be something it is not. When you see a beautiful label purporting to be a carefully crafted boutique wine and sporting a ridiculous (per the cost of manufacturing) price tag – you can be easily faked out.
Fortunately, California and many other states and countries have strict labeling laws. So if you see an origin on a label that is unfamiliar, or something else that seems awry, look elsewhere. While there may not be fake wines in the truest sense of the word, manufactured wines all too often evoke fake impressions.
Next time: China takes wine fakery to a whole new level.