Pampered Vines Don’t Make the Best Wines

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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As Pliny observed 2,000 years ago, “the same vine has a different value in different places.” The quality of grapes, and of the wine made from them, is influenced by the conditions in which the grapes grow and mature. To produce a decent wine, the grapes must ripen to an adequate sweetness, and so the vine must get enough sun, warmth, minerals, and water. On the other hand, abundant water produces watery fruit, abundant soil nitrogen produces excess foliage that shades the fruit and gives it odd flavors, and abundant sun and warmth produce fruit with plenty of sugar but reduced acidity and aroma compounds, and thus a strong but flat wine.