Meet The Hens And Chickens Of The Grape World
You may have had countless arguments about the chicken and the egg but have you ever heard about the hens and the chikens? Don’t be confused, it’s a wine term, also known as Millerandage. When a grape bunch has berries that differ significantly in size (it has small berries scattered throughout the bunch) and in maturity, he the bigger grapes in the bunch, resulting from a normal fruit set are referred to as hens, and the smaller grapes are referred to as chickens They are mostly the result of poor nourishment during the flowering stage. The hen berries have seeds and chicken berries are without any seeds and are unripe, green and hard throughout the ripening season.
The phenomenon is caused by heavy rains, extreme cold during the flowering stage of vines and nutritional deficiency. Millerandage can have a varied impact depending on the grape varieties. For some varieties, it leads to poor yields with undesirable unripe flavours resulting in poor economic effect and poor quality wines. Some viticulturists prefers certain grape varieties with millerandage as wine is expected to be of a good quality due to reduced average berry size which means there is a higher ratio of grape skin per unit of grape juice resulting in flavourful wines.
Unwanted millerandage is usually treated by green harvesting, where the bunches with a high proportion of the phenomenon are removed to balance the stringent acidity and unripe flavours of the chicken berries or they are still kept on the vine to harvest at a later stage with higher ripeness level to reduce unripe flavours in the resultant wine.