Going to the Dogs

He’s not as important as a winemaker, not as critical as a viticulturist, and not as fast as a good harvest worker, but he (or she) is nonetheless a loyal fixture of thousands of wineries worldwide. I’m talking about the vineyard dog. Besides being good at public relations, most vineyard dogs also earn their keep come harvest time when, uninvited, they signal that the grapes are ripe by chomping down any low hanging clusters. Most vineyard dogs are fairly non discriminating when it comes to grape variety–anything juicy will do. Interestingly though, the great Italian grape sangiovese (the primary grape in Chianti) is nicknamed ingannacane, meaning “the one that fools the dogs”, for even when sangiovese grapes look ripe and smell ripe, they’re often still too green and tannic to make perfect wine.

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