A Day in the Life of Henry Powles, Oenologist at Encirc Wines

February 2013

I’m often asked what my job as an oenologist entails. Essentially, I’m Encirc Wines’ wine expert, but this means much more than knowing my Sauvignons from my Chardonnays. Oenology is the science behind the wine and I’m responsible for overseeing the entire bottling process – from checking the levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) to making sure that each bottle of wine we deal with is in perfect condition.

I really enjoy the variety that my job brings – one day I can be testing bottling methods or ingredients for a new product and the next I can be training the whole team on wine tasting. Life as an oenologist is never dull and it’s hugely satisfying to produce a finished wine that exceeds the client’s expectations and that I know people will enjoy. It’s a great career to get in to and I would recommend it to anyone, especially someone who really loves wine! Read on to find out more about a typical day as an oenologist is really like:

I begin with a 9am wine tasting, where I sample wine that has been processed and bottled the day before (don’t worry; this is done under the strictest lab conditions, I’m not drinking on the job!). During this session I can taste anything between six and 25 different wines, depending on the time of year. I’ve been trained to be able to detect faults within wines, which is what I’m looking for, so it’s a lot tougher than it sounds! I then go on to test wines that have arrived at our plant in tankers, to make sure they haven’t been affected by the journey. By now it’s only about 11am!

More tasting follows throughout the day, as our thorough process means we test the wine before the tanker has been unloaded, once it has been filtered into storage tanks, and after it has been bottled, so we can spot a problem as soon as it happens. This may sound rigorous, but our clients trust us to ensure that their products are of the highest quality, so it is important that we detect any faults as quickly as possible.

If there are any imperfections, we need to investigate how and why they have occurred, which I do with Martin Goerner, our laboratory manager, and our quality control manager, David Hampson.

I mentioned earlier that we check the amount of dissolved oxygen in the wine, as it can have a huge impact on the final taste. This is a crucial part of the process, and we monitor DO levels hourly on the wine bottling line. I review oxygen levels monthly, but am informed immediately if the hourly test results do not meet the necessary requirements. If this happens, I coordinate with our engineering department to ensure any changes are done in a timely manner to prevent the potential deterioration of the product.

Once I am happy that everything has gone smoothly and any faults have been investigated, I head home to put my feet up and – of course – enjoy a nice glass of wine!

Henry Powles, oenologist at Encirc Wines

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