Viticulture, it will be recalled, is the art and science of vine-growing and grape-harvesting, and it was the subject of Sections I–IV (Chapters 1–14). Enology, the subject of this Section (Chapters 15–20), is the art and science of winemaking. Much of what follows in this brief Chapter on General Comments is expanded upon in other Chapters in this Section. In making the wine, it appears to be generally agreed that where possible it is best to follow the traditional methods to produce the best results. However, it should be clearly understood that work is underway to engineer yeast to make it more alcohol tolerant and to use the yeast to produce specific compounds recognized as being particularly flavorful. Additionally, as the number of vintners has grown, finding the proper oak for casks is becoming ever harder. Therefore, the art of reworking old oak casks or even avoiding them altogether (e.g., by aging wine in the presence of oak chips) may be used. In the same vein, it is widely recognized that stoppers other than cork may be used, so that the day may come when the cork stopper will be a thing of the past. Traditionally, grapes are taken directly from the vineyard to be crushed, and it is still the case in many of the oldest and most respected vineyards that this practice will continue. However, as the use of pesticides and fungicides has increased, methods for rapid washing and then drying of grapes before crushing may be employed. The arguments against these extra steps are mainly two. First, lingering water would dilute the grape juice. Second, the adventitious yeasts that might be removed by washing or deactivated by drying are often desired for the production of the vintage. Indeed, it has been argued that unique fungi, which might be exclusive to the most prestigious vineyards, are important to the production of the best wines. The issue of washing versus not washing has been investigated, and it was concluded for the case examined that only minor changes are effected by washing.
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