There’s a neuroscience to the way we perceive the taste of wine

Monday, 22 February, 2016

What does neuroscience have to do with appreciating wine? Rather a lot as it happens, since it is our nervous systems that ultimately decide whether we like what were drinking or not.

We don’t just taste with our senses, we taste with our minds. And our minds are routinely affected by a host of influences of which, quite often, we are not even aware. Both our senses and our common sense can be led astray by any number of extraneous factors originating in what we know, or think we know, about the wine we are drinking. Figuring out how our minds work in such complex domains as the evaluation of wines – which are, among other things, economic goods – is the province of neuroeconomics.

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Insect stings as wine, here’s how a sommelier might describe them

Wednesday, 11 June, 2014

US entomologist, or one who studies insects, Justin O. Schmidt produced the “Schmidt Sting Pain Index”, a scale that rates the varying degrees of pain caused by the stings of hymenoptera, being insects such as wasps, bees, and ants.

Rather than restricting the scale to a mere range of numbers, zero (not so severe) to four (extremely severe), Schmidt also wrote up some descriptions of the pain and discomfort caused by each sting, in a style distinctly reminiscent of a wine sommelier no less.

Here’s a Sweat bee for you:

Light and ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.

And, somewhat more stringent, the Bullet ant:

Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel.

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Warning, wine tasting may leave a bad taste in your mouth

Friday, 17 May, 2013

I’ve always regarded wine tasting as more of a social activity, an excuse to have a couple of drinks, a bit of fun, rather than any serious sort of attempt to classify, grade, or whatever, wine.

In 2001, researcher Frédéric Brochet invited 54 wine experts to give their opinions on what were ostensibly two glasses of different wine: one red, and one white. In actuality, the two wines were identical, with one exception: the “red” wine had been dyed with food coloring. The experts described the “red” wine in language typically reserved for characterizing reds. They called it “jammy,” for example, and noted the flavors imparted by its “crushed red fruit.” Not one of the 54 experts surveyed noticed that it was, in fact a white wine.

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Coming soon, thanks to global warming, more wine varieties

Wednesday, 3 April, 2013

Climate change is posing challenges for some wine makers – particularly those in traditional grape growing regions – who are finding rising temperatures beginning to hamper production, but at the same time is creating opportunities in other parts of the world, previously deemed unsuitable for vineyards.

“Some people are alarmists, I prefer to be an optimist,” says Fernando Zamora, oenology researcher and professor at Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain. “I have no doubt that we will still have vineyards in traditional regions, but we have to think of new strategies. And we will also have new zones for vineyards. That’s for sure. “Already in Germany they are making fine red wine where it used to be very difficult. And in Denmark, now they’ve started making wine.”

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The wine dress, the perfect match for fine wine

Monday, 18 June, 2012

Wine dress, photo by Ray Scott

Winemakers could have the option to diversify into fashion design if these outfits grown from wine ever catch on.

(Thanks Coffee Girl)

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No wine was wasted in the development of this bottle opener

Monday, 12 March, 2012

Art and function combine… a sculpture by Rob Higgs not only opens bottles of wine, it also pours drinks for its operators.

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For those about to rock we toast you

Thursday, 1 September, 2011

A new wine collection from Warburn Estate, inspired by songs written by Australian hard rock act AC/DC, stands to create some common ground for both wine connoisseurs and rock fans.

AC/DC “The Wine” will be released in four products: “AC/DC Back in Black Shiraz” (dry red) “AC/DC You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato” (sweet white), “AC/DC Highway to Hell Cabernet Sauvignon” (dry red) and “AC/DC Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc” (dry white).

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Wine family tree reveals potential for marriage within the vines

Tuesday, 25 January, 2011

Grapes used to produce a wide range of wines turn out to be far more closely related than most people realise, according to a family tree of wine grapes. Researchers have also found that there is much potential to cross-breed varieties as a result.

Moreover, breeders have been unimaginative in the crosses they have made, reusing the same cultivars over and over. The Traminer cultivar, for example, has been bred for millennia and has 20 first-degree relatives. This is good news for breeders seeking to develop cultivars that are resistant to disease, says Myles, as so few of the potential crosses have actually been made.

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Going one better than wine and cheese, beer made with cheese

Thursday, 13 January, 2011

A new ale, “The Blue Brew”, by Leicestershire beer makers Belvoir Brewery, sees the mixing – quite literally – of beer and cheese. Stilton cheese, also a product of the English East Midlands region, is used as part of the beer’s brewing process, producing a beverage that “has a unique and smooth taste with light creamy textures”.

Forget the royal wedding, we now have the marriage of two other iconic British institutions, real ale and Stilton cheese. Already a classic pairing, Belvoir Brewery has gone one step further and created a new beer – The Blue Brew – which has Stilton whey infused in the fermenting process. The chestnut coloured ale has a unique and smooth taste with light creamy textures.

Could same level of brouhaha that was produced when Vegemite created a cheese-infused variation of the popular Australian spread in 2009 result here though?

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Beer versus wine, which is more environmentally friendly?

Thursday, 17 June, 2010

I’m not sure there is a clear cut answer to this question

Like so many decisions, this one is full of variables. If you compare local wine with imported beer, the wine wins. If you compare your local microbrew to a bottle of red flown from around the world, the beer wins. In the most general terms a bottle of wine has around four times the impact of a bottle of beer, but the bottle of wine contains four servings while the bottle of beer contains only one.

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