Baseball fans commonly refer to the period of time when numerous high-profile players took performance-enhancing drugs as the \u201cSteroid Era.\u201d In wine, it can be mused that we are now living in the \u201cAdditive Era,\u201d in which it is not unusual for wines to be highly manipulated.\r\n\r\nWine color too light? Add some Mega Purple. Looking for more oak influence or additional tannin? Some oak extract could do the trick. Technology exists that can alter just about any aspect of a wine. The natural end point is making synthetic wine without grapes, which people are doing.\r\n\r\nOne might expect manipulation in entry-level wines, which are aiming more for Coca Cola-like consistency than embracing vintage variation. But top-tier wines sometimes use additives, too. It\u2019s one of the reasons some winemakers blanch at putting ingredient lists on wine labels (not that such lists have stopped us from eating, say, Doritos).\r\n\r\nIf you can add something to make a wine smell or taste better, why wouldn\u2019t you?\r\n\r\nSo why do wineries use additives? For the same reason baseball players use performance enhancers: to compete. Wine is big business\u2014the higher the competition, the greater the stakes. More accolades and better scores lead to higher prices and larger profits. If you can add something to make a wine smell or taste better, why wouldn\u2019t you?\r\n\r\nWhile some wineries use every tool available to improve their wines, others work diligently to maintain integrity in production and keep making wine the old-fashioned way, technology be damned. But as one winemaker told me, much like in baseball, it\u2019s difficult to compete when the playing field isn\u2019t level.\r\n\r\nIt all begs the question: Does integrity really matter in wine?\r\n\r\nFor many, embracing vintage, variety and appellation is at the very heart of enjoyment. We know there will never be another bottle quite like the one, time-capsuled wine we are drinking. Interfering with that is anathema.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, others are looking for the same wine they have always enjoyed, regardless of what year it comes from.\r\n\r\nNeither is wrong, but, to me, wine gets a lot less interesting when it comes from a test tube. It might taste the same. Heck, it might even taste better. But is that really all it\u2019s about? Isn\u2019t wine\u2019s agricultural nature, with its subsequent undulations, part of what makes it so compelling?\r\n\r\nIronically, just as technology has allowed alteration with additives, it has also resulted in easy chemical analysis, where a wine can be laid bare. Much like with doping in baseball, some high profile winery\u2019s reputation will inevitably suffer when someone puts their wine under a microscope. Perhaps this will lead some to step back from the edge or at least push for greater transparency.\r\n\r\nUntil then, it\u2019s impossible to know just how manipulated a wine is or isn\u2019t.