Anyone who's seen Joan Rivers's face can probably answer the question "How much is too much?" when the topic is plastic surgery. But when it comes to a manipulated wineone to which sugar or oxygen has been added or alcohol has been removedit's easier to find a consensus about the perils of multiple face-lifts than it is the effects of microbullage.
Microbullage, or "tiny bubbles" (no relation to the Lawrence Welk tune), is a method of adding oxygen to wine, softening its tannins and making it easier to drink. Developed by a Frenchman named Patrick Ducournau in the early 1990s, it's one of several new technologies used more and more frequently by winemakers all over the world. Yet, as the popularity of such methods has grown, so has the number of producers who question their use, suggesting they create unnatural or even inferior wines.
Not that wine hasn't been manipulated for hundreds of years. Perhaps the most infamous manipulation took place in 1985, when some Austrian producers added antifreeze to their wines to sweeten them. Othernonlethalmethods include adding sugar (chaptalization) to boost alcohol levels in rainy years or acid in years that are too hot, or employing "designer yeasts" to impart specific aromas and flavors. Pro-machine producers argue that these methods are no less manipulative than microbullage.