Welcome back to the Octavian blog. This week we address the differences between cheap, mass produced wine and high quality vintages. We ensure our wines are kept in optimal conditions, but what happens before they reach us?

Indeed, the process of creating a fine wine and then waiting for it to mature is so special and time consuming and most importantly, makes a big difference to the end-product. Whether you are a connoisseur, or a beginner starting to collect, the taste of the different wines is startling. But what happens to wine to produce this vast difference in taste, texture and aroma?

In this blog post we have broken down the main differences, so you can learn the difference between how mass produced and boutique wine is created.

The Grape

Most lower quality wines add sugar to improve the flavour, and disguise the fact that they use lower quality grapes. High quality wines do not use this technique because the grapes they use naturally give the wine incredible richness and flavour.


The way that the grape is harvested also has an impact on the wine. Mass produced wine is generally made from grapes that have been sprayed with chemicals and treatments which can distort or taint the flavour. This is so they reduce the chance of their grape crop spoiling before harvest time.

Machine harvesting is also prolific as it reduces the amount of time it takes to harvest the fruit. However, because grapes ripen at different times not all the fruit will be ripe. They are then dumped into a huge container which causes them to be squashed, and to prevent oxidation are sprayed with potassium metabisulphite powder.

Artisan wines tend to be picked by hand, and because a wine picker selects them only the best grapes are chosen. The grapes are also picked whole and therefore don’t need any chemicals sprayed on them.

The Equipment


Mass produced wines are fermented in huge steel tanks, which is done on an industrial scale. Additives and sugar are also introduced into the mix. Tartaric acid may also be added to compensate for the fact that not all the grapes were ready to picked, and therefore didn’t have enough natural acidity.

High quality red wine is aged in oak barrels, however this is expensive, so mass-produced wine might have oak chips, or “essence”—a liquefied wood product that can be added directly to an otherwise finished wine to infuse the taste of oak into the recipe.

Maturing red wine on oak barrels is not only expensive, but also a much longer process, as the wine maker has to wait for small amounts of oxygen to enter the wine through the wood’s pores, and react with the phenolic components of the wine to increase stability and influence the aroma.


Mass produced wine is filtered and sulphites are added to prevent oxidation. Sulphites are ions composed of sulphur and oxygen, which naturally exists in wine in the form of sulphur dioxide, a preservative which has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, and are not harmful. The vintage may be bottled at the winery, or if it is to be shopped it is placed in bladders, and more sulphites are added for the journey.

High quality wines are bottled on the premises, and a very small amount of sulphites may be added. In general they have less extra chemicals than mass-produced wine, because more time and effort has been put in to create the drink, from picking grapes by hand to keeping red wine in oak barrels. In short, the wines we look after in our vaults are not comparable to the bottled wines that run up and down the supermarket aisles.

So, we hope you learnt a bit about the differences in the processes of creating a high-class vintage compared to a mediocre drink. If you wish to ask a bit more about our wine storage at Octavian call us on +44 (0)1225 818714, or send us a message via our contact form.