“There is no fault that can’t be corrected [in natural wine] with one powder or another; no feature that can’t be engineered from a bottle, box, or bag. Wine too tannic? Fine it with Ovo-Pure (powdered egg whites), isinglass (granulate from fish bladders), gelatin (often derived from cow bones and pigskins), or if it’s a white, strip out pesky proteins that cause haziness with Puri-Bent (bentonite clay, the ingredient in kitty litter). Not tannic enough? Replace $1,000 barrels with a bag of oak chips (small wood nuggets toasted for flavor), “tank planks” (long oak staves), oak dust (what it sounds like), or a few drops of liquid oak tannin (pick between “mocha” and “vanilla”). Or simulate the texture of barrel-aged wines with powdered tannin, then double what you charge. (““Typically, the $8 to $12 bottle can be brought up to $15 to $20 per bottle because it gives you more of a barrel quality. . . . You’re dressing it up,” a sales rep explained.)
Wine too thin? Build fullness in the mouth with gum arabic (an ingredient also found in frosting and watercolor paint). Too frothy? Add a few drops of antifoaming agent (food-grade silicone oil). Cut acidity with potassium carbonate (a white salt) or calcium carbonate (chalk). Crank it up again with a bag of tartaric acid (aka cream of tartar). Increase alcohol by mixing the pressed grape must with sugary grape concentrate, or just add sugar. Decrease alcohol with ConeTech’s spinning cone, or Vinovation’s reverse-osmosis machine, or water. Fake an aged Bordeaux with Lesaffre’s yeast and yeast derivative. Boost “fresh butter” and “honey” aromas by ordering the CY3079 designer yeast from a catalog, or go for “cherry-cola” with the Rhône 2226. Or just ask the “Yeast Whisperer,” a man with thick sideburns at the Lallemand stand, for the best yeast to meet your “stylistic goals.” (For a Sauvignon Blanc with citrus aromas, use the Uvaferm SVG. For pear and melon, do Lalvin Ba11. For passion fruit, add Vitilevure Elixir.) Kill off microbes with Velcorin (just be careful, because it’s toxic). And preserve the whole thing with sulfur dioxide.
When it’s all over, if you still don’t like the wine, just add a few drops of Mega Purple—thick grape-juice concentrate that’s been called a “magical potion.” It can plump up a wine, make it sweeter on the finish, add richer color, cover up greenness, mask the horsey stink of Brett, and make fruit flavors pop. No one will admit to using it, but it ends up in an estimated 25 million bottles of red each year. “Virtually everyone is using it,” the president of a Monterey County winery confided to Wines and Vines magazine. “In just about every wine up to $20 a bottle anyway, but maybe not as much over that.”