Discovering new old varieties in southwest France with Plaimont

If a highly paid marketing consultant had come to Plaimont a decade ago, they might have given the following advice: give up on these difficult-to-pronounce, unusual grape varieties with their distinctive local flavours. Instead, plant the grape varieties that people know and love – Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Make fruity, approachable wines. [...]

Tasting Climate Change, in Montréal: the impact of warming on wine

Yesterday was the Tasting Climate Change conference https://www.tastingclimatechange.com/en/   , organized by Michelle Bouffard and held in Montréal, Canada. It was a half-day event looking at the impact of climate change on wine.

Stephen Guilbeaut

Stephen Guilbeaut, CEO of Équiterre, began by presenting an overview of the situation globally. CO2 concentrations are currently highest than they’ve been [...]

What determines your taste? Why I disagree with Tim Hanni

Tim Hanni MW has become well known in the wine trade for his work on separating people into different groups according to their taste preferences. He has some interesting things to say. For example, there’s this recent interview published in Meininger’s. This isn’t the first time that consumer segmentation has been applied to wine, but [...]

Is elevated atmospheric CO2 to blame for rising alcohol levels in wine?

Lisa Perrotti-Brown of the Wine Advocate recently published an article that caused quite a stir on the Internets. Lisa begins by saying that that the rise in alcohol levels in many wines is inexplicable. It has left her scratching her head. She’s puzzled, as are many of the winemakers that she’s been speaking with. Baffled, [...]

Wine tasters are made, not born

There’s an excellent interview with Barry Smith on ABC (Australia) radio on the philosophy of wine. For a professor of philosophy, Barry is remarkably accessible and good at explaining what could otherwise be quite complex topics. One of the themes in this interview is the difference between experts and social drinkers. Are wine experts ‘born’, [...]

One of the weaknesses of the growing degree day concept, and similar climatic indices

I remember back in my old job, when we had a scientific conference on the nature of intelligence. It’s a topic you approach with caution. Nature versus nurture? Genetics versus environment? Which wins?

One of the concepts that got me was that we assume that two kids living side by side would be exposed to a [...]

Wine experts needed for scientific study, central London

If you are wine expert in easy striking distance of central London, then there’s an experiment taking place on expert wine tasting and social interactions being run the University of London Centre for the Study of the Senses (CenSes). The goal of the experiment is to examine how people resolve uncertainty when they are tasting, [...]

José Vouillamoz on grape varieties, at MUST 2017

It was great to hear José Vouillamoz present at MUST. He’s a plant scientist with a special interest in grape varieties, and this was the subject of his talk. He began with the news that soon there will be a new edition of Wine Grapes, the reference book he authored together with Julia Harding and [...]

Are we potentially much better at smelling than we realise? The curious case of androstenone

Androstenone is a smelly steroidal compound produced by pigs that is described as sweaty, urinous, and musky by those who can smell it. Depending on the version of the OR7D4 gene that you will have, you’ll experience androsterone as unpleasant, or sweet, or you might not smell it at all.

Kara Hoover and colleagues have looked [...]

Is wine art?

The response of most people to the question, ‘is wine art?’ will be, ‘who cares?’ But I think it’s an interesting question, and it’s one that floated around in my mental space on a dog walk yesterday.

What is art? What is an art object? I recently had a look round a display of contemporary art [...]