There is a French expression that goes like this: “Il faut donner du temps au temps”. A literal translation would be “you must give time to time”, or “allow time to time”. Essentially it means that some things cannot be hurried, and sufficient time must be given to ensure its creation or implementation.
In a world of instantly expected gratification, unlimited availability, worldwide share-ability and obliged likeability, we must learn to slow down and re-learn the art of giving time to time.
You cannot learn a language, master a musical instrument, repair a broken bone or cook a pie faster than the time it naturally requires.
I believe it is the same for wine. Technology and innovation, both in viticulture and winemaking, undeniably help the vine grower and the winemaker control most parameters of the art of making wine. Consistency in the wine profile is thus achieved more often than not. That being said, we must be careful not to take shortcuts and go “plus vite que la musique”, another French expression meaning you can’t go faster than the pace of music….
This is true also for wine ageing, or as French people call it “Élevage”, which is defined as the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling. Comparable to the term "raising" in English; think of élevage as a wine's adolescence or education”.
A winemaker must choose to mature their wine in barrels or tanks. The commercial reality is that not all wine can be matured the traditional way in oak barrels; about 90% of wine is matured in steel tanks. Barrel aging is essentially an “automatic” aging device as it balances naturally all the five parameters in the aging process: 1. Oxygen, 2. Oak compounds, 3. Turbidity (contact with the lees), 4. Temperature and 5. Time.
Micro-oxygenation was developed to reproduce the “oxygen” parameter in wine ageing. The technology is built on the premise that a tank can “behave” just like a barrel if we are authentic about how we recreate the important processes that happen in oak maturation.
At Wine Grenade, our goal is to improve the quality of wine when made at scale inside steel tanks. We aim to address the oxygen component of wine ageing by using a permeable membrane rather than a diffusor, meaning the oxygen is absorbed at a molecular level rather than through bubbles.
People ask me if wine can be aged faster by simply adding more oxygen than what a barrel would naturally allow. The answer is ‘probably yes’, but to my mind that’s taking a shortcut. We prefer to reproduce the natural condition of a proper ageing, and let the wine get ready as it should.
Like my mom would say…. “Sure you can cook faster a “coq-au-vin”, “a boeuf-bourguignon”, or a “cassoulet” by increasing the heat source, but you won’t get a good one!”
“Give time to time, son”…
By Cyril Derreumaux
About Wine Grenade
Wine Grenade is wine maturation, redefined. This blog will keep you up to date with our business and provide some thoughtful commentary on the art of winemaking.