Monday, September 12, 2022

Rant: Give Respect To Hybrid Grapes

This week, I'm visiting Nova Scotia once again, with plans to visit some of the wineries of the Annapolis Valley. I'll definitely be returning home with wine, at least a case, and most of those wines will have been produced from hybrid grapes. As such, I wanted to bring back an applicable older post, with some revisions and updates, advocating for respect for hybrid grapes.

I feel sorry for grapes like Baco Noir, Frontenac Noir, Marechal Foch, Seyval Blanc and others. Though they are used to make wine, with a number of excellent examples, they often get very little respect because of their parentage. These grapes are known as hybrids, not pure vitis vinifera like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay

Because they are not "pure," too many people look down upon them, sometimes even shunning them. They don't give those wines a chance, rejecting them without even tasting them. Shouldn't these hybrid grapes be judged by the quality of their wine rather than the identity of their parents?

Vitis vinifera is the common grape vine and the one most used for making wine. All of the major grapes of which you are familiar are likely these types of grapes, from Pinot Noir to Syrah, from Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Blanc. Hybrids are a cross of two or more Vitis species, such as vitis vinifera and vitis labrusca. They are often created to produce a hardier grape, especially for harsher, colder northern climates. Because they are not pure vitis vinifera, some people turn up their noses at these hybrids, refusing to believe they can produce quality wine. 

Drop that pretentiousness and judge these wines by their taste. 

Many of the wines made in Nova Scotia are made from hybrid grapes, but they are still worthy of respect. I've previously enjoyed other Nova Scotian wines, made from hybrids, and they have been delicious, and definitely wines I'd recommend. I'm looking forward to tasting more new wines in Nova Scotia, seeing what the hybrid grapes bring to the bottle. 

Sure there are poor quality wines made from hybrids, but there are plenty of poor quality wines made from vitis vinifera too. Yet there are excellent wines made from these hybrids as well, and a wine lover would be hard pressed to guess they were hybrids simply from tasting the wine. You should approach a wine without prejudices or biases, willing to taste the wine and let it stand on its own. If you do so, you will probably find plenty of delicious wines that you might never have experienced otherwise.

It has gotten to the point that some fans of hybrid grapes don't even want to use the term "hybrid," to avoid the prejudices that the term can spawn. I believe we should embrace the term, and don't try to hide what is being used. Instead, we need to fight the prejudice by getting these people to taste these wines, to understand the quality that can be found within them.

So get over yourself and stop prejudging hybrids. Drink the wine before making any judgments. Judge a wine on its taste, not its parentage. 

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