In most circumstances, wine lovers aren’t fans of anyone that steals their wine. After all, if a friend steals your wine, can they really be called a friend? At CGT we do make one exception to this rule and that’s for our very own “wine thief,” a wonderful tool (and friend) essential during the winemaking process.
A wine thief looks like a long pipette made of glass or plastic. The wine thief’s job is to “steal” wine from the barrel to test at different stages in the winemaking process. Check out the video below to go behind the scenes with our winemaker Bernd Croissant as he uses the wine thief to sample some barrel-aging Merlot.
Using a wine thief is fairly simple. As Bernd demonstrates, the trick is to insert the wine thief into the barrel, put your thumb over the hole at the top and then pull it up full of wine, and release that into a wine glass for sampling. A wine thief is only used to take barrel samples, which mostly means red wine, although a few whites such as barrel fermented chardonnay spend some time in barrels.
How much the wine thief is utilized is left up to the winemaker’s style. At CGT, we often use a more “hands-off” winemaking approach, allowing the wine to do most of the work without disturbing it too much during the aging process. During the initial fermentation period, our wine thief is used daily for a period of weeks to keep a close eye on the progress. After fermentation, barrels are sampled with the wine thief only every 6-12 months. Each of the barrels will be sampled with the wine thief a couple of times a year to ensure that taste and quality are in tip-top shape before being bottled.
After all those “steals” of wine we have a finished product that is bottled, labeled and ready to be poured into your glass; whether you sample it in our tasting room or in your living room! Just make sure that you keep your other “wine thief” friends at a safe distance.