Blog: The Chicks Uncorked
I was recently enjoying a book about wine when two words jumped off the page and hit me like a whiskey-aged wine barrel: Mega Purple. The author used this phrase when describing the ‘underbelly’ of the wine industry – what vineyards do clandestinely to improve the taste and color of their products.
It turns out Mega Purple is a ‘goopy’ juice made from Rubired grapes, known for their intense color and sweetness. The concentrate is added to make red wines (and not just the inexpensive ones) appear more full-bodied by giving them a deep, ruby color. Mega Purple is also used to cover up the taste of pyrazine compounds, the flavor of green pepper and other vegetals that need to be disguised in many wines to make them palatable to consumers.
The practice of using Mega Purple has been described within the industry as ‘dangerous,’ ‘insidious’ and ‘manipulative’ because it can greatly alter the flavor of the wine’s natural aromatics.
But dangerous? Dangerous to whom? I myself don’t mind a fruity grape varietal added to make a wine smoother and more delicious. I’m sure there are wine aficionados out there choking on their Bordeaux as they read this. And I get it. Wine in the eyes of true experts is about the subtle nuances of flavor that reflect the soil, weather and sunlight of the growing process. In fact, I have a French friend who once told me she only likes wine that tastes like tree bark.
And if you’re of that ilk, more arboreous power to you. But should I feel guilty about preferring a palate-pleasing sip? Does it make me a lesser person in the wine world because I don’t enjoy the essence of pine bark?
So maybe we can compromise. You stick to sipping birch trees, and I’ll continue to enjoy my fruit-forward varietals with a smooth finish. And if that requires adding a little Mega Purple to the mix, that’s OK by me … and my taste buds.