Wine Trends: Reductive Winemaking

Wine Trends: Reductive Winemaking

Emma Christensen
Jul 25, 2008

A few weeks ago at the New England Aquarium Dinner, we were served one of the cleanest, fruitiest, freshest white wines we can ever remember tasting.

Imagine walking into a flower shop and being able to taste each individual flower simultaneously. It gave new meaning to the term "bouquet."

We had to know the secret behind this sauvignon blanc. Our host's answer? Reductive winemaking.

Traditional wines are usually made with an oxidative process, meaning that the wine is exposed to air throughout the wine-making process. This aids in fermentation and has the effect of increasing complexity and softening tannins at the risk of reducing natural fruit flavors.

Wines made with reductive methods, on the other hand, are done so in the near-absence of oxygen. From harvest to bottling, the interactions between the wine and oxygen are kept as minimal as possible. This has the effect of preserving all of the fruity aromas and flavors in the grapes themselves, resulting in a highly fruity and fresh-tasting wine.

This relatively new process is made possible with the advent of stainless steel tanks and the use of inert gases. Reductive wines are also usually kept as cold as possible, which is another contributing factor to the fruitiness of the final wine.

Winemaking is a balance between this fruitiness and complexity, and it's difficult to achieve one without sacrificing the other. Wines made using reductive methods are no exception, and while the crisp fruit of these wines can blow you away, the trade-off is less complexity and mouthfeel.

Whether or not you're a fan of these "fruit bomb" wines, definitely give them a try if you have the chance! It can be hard to recognize wines made in this style since it's not something that is usually on the label. You'll have better luck asking an experienced wine seller or sommelier.

• At our New England Aquarium Dinner, we enjoyed Seaglass Sauvingnon Blanc, available for $14.99 from Grand Wine Cellar.

Does anyone else have other good recommendations for wines made in this style?

Related: What Is Corked Wine?

(Image: Flickr member ndrwfgg licensed under Creative Commons)

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