The mystery of soils and wine, part 1

To the ancients, the idea that plants are formed from the soil would have seemed self-evident. The communion between the roots and the earth suggests that the composition of plants, and by extension the fruit they produce, is determined largely by the composition of the soil. Modern science, however, paints a rather different picture. The [...]

Q&A on oxygen and wine shipping and bottling

Unloading a wine flextank after shipping

I have just taken some time to answer an email from a TV researcher about wine and oxygen, specifically related to shipping and bottling wine. Because it took a fair while to answer the questions, I thought I’d share my responses here. Yes, geeky technical stuff indeed, but I [...]

Fruity with a hint of drought, an article of mine in Nature

Those with a science background will understand why I’m chuffed to have got an article into the comments section of leading scientific journal Nature. It’s on the subject of climate change and wine.

You can read it here.

I also went into Nature’s HQ near Kings Cross to do a podcast on the topic, including [...]

Desensitization, adaptation and cross-adaptation - perils for wine tasting

One of the pitfalls in tasting is the way that our sensory systems are quite malleable. Take vision, for example. If you are out in the sunlight and then walk into a slightly darkened room, it takes a while before you can see anything. Your visual system adapts to the ambient conditions. We take this [...]

Some research work at Torres, Spain

With Marimar Torres

I’ve been visiting Torres today, one of Spain’s strongest wine brands, making not only very good commercial wines, but also some fairly serious high end wines, too.

I spent some time with the boss, Miguel Torres, and also with Marimar Torres who is based in the USA and runs Marimar Estate, in Sonoma, [...]

Is flavour a property of the wine? A great article from Barry Smith

If you can, take some time to read this great article in a Nature supplement by wine-loving philosophy professor Barry Smith. It discusses whether the flavour (or taste) of a wine is the property of the wine or not.

This may seem a slightly self-indulgent academic discussion, but it has important implications for how we approach wine [...]

Is minerality the key to ageworthiness in wine?

Our scientific knowledge about what makes wine ageworthy is currently limited.

I know the rules: the things that should make wines capable of ageing. There’s low pH (high acidity), the presence of adequate free sulfur dioxide, and the presence of phenolic compounds.

Increasingly, though, I come across wines that break these rules, and yet age well.

I don’t [...]

Spotted in the Douro: wild vines

Now this is terribly geeky: I know. But when I visited Quinta dos Malvedos last September I was delighted to see a wild vine growing in a tree.

This is really interesting to me, because this is the native habitat for the grape vine. Originally, all vines would have been woodland climbers. They are adapted for [...]

So will first growth Margaux soon be using screwcaps?

In short, no.

I have just written up Tuesday’s presentation and tasting on the results from research carried out by Bordeaux first growth Chateau Margaux. This was presented by Paul Pontallier, and he displayed an incredibly open and thoughtful attitude in sharing details of the in-house experiments that have been going on there for a decade.

The [...]

Corked wine, and some dodgy lenticels

Had another corked wine. I say ‘another’, but actually, it’s the first in ages. I wonder whether it’s getting rarer? Or maybe, it’s because many wines I drink are sealed with alternative closures or treated technical corks such as Diam?

Once again, this corked wine has some large, deep lenticels on the wine-facing end. I’ve wondered [...]