Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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triage is the French and common winemaking term for the sorting of grapes according to quality prior to winemaking. Most commonly, freshly picked bunches of grapes are spread on a table de tri, a sorting table or slowly moving and sometimes vibrating belt, so that substandard examples can be manually plucked off and thrown away (along with any leaves and stems, or mog, that have crept in). For most wines, clusters that are unevenly ripe, or underripe, or have suffered disease or vine pest damage are rejected. In some wineries, the grape berries are sorted after the bunches have been through the destemmer, and may even be sorted twice, both before and after destemming. Such sorting is a labour-intensive process that requires training. However, an automated sorter which works on the basis of grape density and is used after destemming has been developed in France. Ripe grapes sink in the floating tank; unripe grapes remain on the surface. The cost of sorting can be justified only for relatively fine wines but the practice increased considerably in the early 2000s with the emergence on the market of highly sophisticated mechanical and optical sorting systems. See also grape composition and wine quality.