Do the phases of the moon really affect how you taste wine?
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Wine writers and researchers have attempted to prove correlations between the phases of the moon and how they taste wine. Some anecdotal evidence exists to support both sides of the argument. What do you think?
Many wine growers around the world have begun to incorporate “biodynamics” into their viticulture practices. Based on a paper published by Rudolf Steiner in 1929, practitioners of biodynamics take a holistic approach to grape growing, believing that healthy and balanced soil (free from chemicals) will produce better vines and grapes, which will ultimately produce better wine. In addition to a number of elaborate processes for creating “healthy” soil, another part of biodynamics is to synchronize activities in the vineyard (planting, harvesting, pruning, etc.) with phases of the moon. At its simplest level, the biodynamic calendar assigns one of four designations to each day of the year based on the phase of the moon, its position relative to Earth, and its position relative to various astrological signs. These designations are root days, leaf days, flower days, and fruit days. Root days are said to be better for soil maintenance and fruit days are supposed to be better for harvesting grapes.
While biodynamic viticulturists use the biodynamic calendar to plan their vineyard managing activities, wine drinkers have begun to debate whether or not we taste wine better on different days. Some argue that wine tastes best on fruit days and should be avoided altogether on root and leaf days. Wine writers and researchers have attempted to prove correlations between the phases of the moon and how they taste wine. While these studies have resulted in anecdotal evidence to support both sides of the argument, in reality there are far too many uncontrolled variables to form a solid conclusion one way or the other. Even if you control the tasting environment – lighting, wine temperature, stemware etc. – the taster themselves introduce a whole host of variables that can never be controlled for a truly scientific experiment. A person’s mood, diet, sleep patterns, and general health are all variables that can impact how they taste wine from day to day.
While it may be impossible to say if all people taste wine better on a fruit day, you can always experiment on yourself to see if your taste may vary. To conduct such an experiment, start by identifying one of each day type on the calendar, as close in time as possible. Generally, there is at least one of each day type within a weekly timeframe. On each of the days, conduct a tasting of 4 to 6 wines representing different styles, grapes and regions. Start with unopened bottles of each wine each day. Try to control as many of these additional variables as possible for each tasting:
- Wine order: taste the wines in the same order each time
- Wine temperature: for each wine in your tasting set, taste it at a consistent temperature each time
- Glassware: use the same glasses for each tasting
- Time of day: conduct each tasting at the same time of day. Ideally, the amount of time between your last meal and tasting should also be the same.
- Tasting space: use the same space for each tasting. Ideally, the space should be well lit and free from distracting aromas.
- Ideally, your diet should be consistent over the course of the week. Avoid overly spicy or acidic foods before a tasting.
Take notes during each tasting and compare them all afterwards. What trends do you see? Did all wines taste better or worse on a given day? Are there trends with any subsets of wines – whites v. reds, floral v. earthy v. fruity? You may see no significant difference in how wines taste from day to day, or you may see major variations. Are these variations enough to make you only drink wine on certain days? The decision is yours.
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