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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Winemaking - Wash Your Grapes?

By October 12, 2012

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Unwashed grapes for winemaking. (Getty Images)A reader emailed to ask a question about winemaking. He makes wine in his home and has been using unwashed grapes to make the wine. When talking with his friends who make wine he learned some of them wash their grapes while others do not. Those who washed their grapes expressed concern about contaminants on the grapes that would ruin the wine; those who left their grapes unwashed believed the dust from the vineyard contributed to the quality of the wine. Who was right? Both of them!

Using unwashed grapes for winemaking is a time-honored tradition. However, washing the grapes offers several advantages. It removes pesticides, insects, and may reduce the chemicals that could lead your wine to become vinegar rather than wine. The process may even be used to remove bad grapes, which would have a negative impact on the flavor of the wine. While you may be able to argue the flavor of wine from unwashed grapes is desirable, it's hard to say anything positive about having pesticide residue in your wine.

Do you make wine? If so, do you wash your grapes or leave them as-is? Do you have an opinion about whether or not grapes should be washed? If so, post a response.

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