Tag: Wine 101

WSET Exam-Type Question: Vine Propagation

Compare and contrast massal versus clonal selection.

Massal versus clonal selection; WineFolly.com
Massal versus clonal selection; WineFolly.com

Planting a new vineyard, replanting an old vineyard—where does that new vine material come from? There are a couple different options growers have, each with their own benefits and downfalls. Let’s take a look…

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WSET Exam-Type Question: Clarification of Must

Identify four key options for the clarification of grape must.

Natural clarification takes place as wine ages in barrel, its suspended particles gradually falling to the bottom.
Natural clarification takes place as wine ages in barrel, its suspended particles gradually falling to the bottom.

This is specific to white wine making. Between the press-stage and alcoholic fermentation, the juice of the white wine grapes can be clarified. The goal: reduce the amount of suspended solids, produced from grape skins, seeds, and even stems.

This is an optional winemaking technique, as some winemakers may choose to retain all (or a higher percentage of) solids to increase the wine’s texture, astringency, and even add some flavors/aromas. The higher the level of solids, however, the less of the more fruity aromas will be available in the resulting wine. As such, the technique of lees aging is more commonly used on non-aromatic grape varieties, like Chardonnay. Although, some aromatic grape varieties may see some lees aging, just with a smaller percentage of said lees.

Typically, however, when we think of our more aromatic varieties, like Sauvignon Blanc, or the more subtle-fruited varieties, like Pinot Grigio, it’s a more common winemaking technique to clarify the must. NOTE: Some level of solids are needed, as those skins, seeds, stems provide needed nutrients required by yeast for the fermentation process. (See Winemaking Treatment and Control of Stuck Fermentation.) Do not over-clarify.

Here are the key ways in which to clarify grape must…

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WSET Exam-type Question: Winemaking Treatment and Control of Stuck Fermentation

This is an exercise supplied by one of my Diploma preparation courses. The aim of the exercise is to showcase our knowledge of basic winemaking chemistry, the main substances involved either naturally in the grape, added by the winemaker or produced through fermentation or other chemical reactions during the processes. The question asks us to pick an issue that can occur during the winemaking process, outline the cause and why it’s an issue at all, think about how the environment and location may influence this issue, and, finally, describe common steps used to prevent and/or control that issue.

I like the idea of discussing stuck fermentation because it’s an issue, believe or not, that can start in the vineyard (something I didn’t realize until taking this course), and takes us through nearly the whole winemaking process.

So, travel with me, if you will, to my imaginary vineyard where we will begin our process of understanding and preventing stuck fermentation.

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WSET Exam-Type Question: Dealing with Hail

Identify and evaluate three options for dealing with the treat of hail in an established vineyard.

As someone that grew up in the Bay Area, hail, for me, is a once-in-awhile thing, not an every vintage thing. Those tiny little pellets that hit against my window or get stuck in my hair have nothing on the major rocks that slam down in other regions. Hail is a real threat in many areas: Bordeaux, Languedoc, Beaujolais, Argentina. So…what does that mean for the grapes and wine?

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