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Arts & Life

What Michigan wineries can learn from New Zealand

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Flickr user farlane
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Vineyard in Leelanau County

Could low-alcohol wines that still pack full, rich flavor be on the horizon for Michigan?

HOUR Detroit Magazine's chief wine and restaurant critic Chris Cook says Michigan's flavor patterns do better with less alcohol, but balancing the two can be difficult.

"The problem is simply this. When you have what we would call a normal wine from, say, a place like California, that's grown in a climate where there's a lot of heat and there's a lot of days with very warm weather. You get to the Midwest, we can get certain ripeness, but we can't get full ripeness the way that they do," Cook says.

And with a moderate climate, it can be hard to find a way to increase both the flavor patterns of the fruit and increase the alcohol.

Now, New Zealand has been experimenting with different growing techniques. Growers have started to pluck newer leaves from the vine and leave older ones on the end. This small change reduces the way the sugar comes into the grape, and in turn the alcohol is reduced but the flavor continues to increase.

Cook says there is a long way to go before this is tested well enough to be implemented, but it could lead to more variations of grapes and flavors for Michigan growers.

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