Terroir: the rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated

There’s a very interesting article on Jancis Robinson.com today, in which she reports on a recent Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) seminar on mineralogy. It deals with some very interesting issues. In her piece, she reports on Maltman’s talk, but I think she jumps to too-hasty a conclusion about its implications.

As geologist Alex Maltman [...]

Does organic wine taste better? A study whose findings have been widely misinterpreted

Are organic wines better than conventional ones? An interesting study from researchers at the University of California Los Angeles suggests that they might well be. However, the difference in point scores between eco-certified wines and conventional wines is actually much smaller than press reports on this study have stated, because they haven’t read the paper [...]

Stability of olfactory ability over time

This is a question that I think is really interesting, and it would be quite easy to answer. How stable is our olfactory ability over time?

We each differ in the set of olfactory receptors that we express in our nasal cavity. These receptors detect smell molecules. But there are far more smell molecules that we [...]

In Adelaide: discussing wine science with a taxi driver

So, I rolled into Adelaide airport at 8 pm on Sunday night, after a long flight from London via Dubai. On the plane I alternated between sleeping, working, and listening: of late, I have taken to listening to music on flights. Usually, new planes with decent in flight entertainment have a good selection, and if [...]

Riesling Rendezvous: why analytical data don't tell us much about the taste of Riesling

I’m at the Riesling Rendezvous conference in Seattle, Washington State. Held every three years, it’s an in-depth dive into this most distinctive of white wine grapes. It began on Sunday evening with a grand tasting outdoors at Chateau Ste Michelle in Woodinville, and yesterday and today we’re in Seattle for tastings and seminars.

One topic that [...]

ICCWS: Gary Pickering on managing green flavours in wine

Gary Pickering, of Brock University presented a talk at the ICCWS (International Cool Climate Wine Symposium) on managing green flavours in wine. These are largely (but not exclusively) caused by methoxypyrazines. The two main ones in wine are isopropyl methoxypyrazine (IPMP) and isobutyl methoxypyrazine (IBMP).

There’s a level at which these green flavours can be typical [...]

ICCWS 2016: Alistair Nesbitt's model for identifying suitable vineyard sites in the UK

Alistair Nesbitt, from the University of East Anglia, has created a model that maps spatial climate variability in the UK, showing the suitability of various areas for viticulture in England and Wales. Over the period 1954-2015 there has been a non-linear warming trend for the growing season, and the amount of variability from season to [...]

Framing and wine tasting: how words can get in the way of experience

Framing is a social science term which refers to a set of concepts and perspectives that then form the background that influences how we think on certain issues. In this sense, framing is part of the narrative structure with which we see the world. American academic and author George Lakoff has popularized the term in [...]

Accessibility and interest: how we grow to like wines

David Huron, Professor of Music at Ohio State University, has written an absorbing book titled, Sweet anticipation: music and the psychology of expectation. When we listen to music, our relationship with it changes with repeated exposure. We predict what is coming, and then there is a pleasure derived when the music matches our predictions. [...]

The Barry Smith interview: what is the nature of wine perception, and is wine flavour objective?

Professor Barry Smith (above) is an academic philosopher with a particular interest in flavour. A keen wine geek, he organized the first symposium on wine and philosophy back in 2004, and then published the first book on the topic in 2007 (Questions of Taste). More recently, he was founder and is co-director of CenSes – [...]