Huon’s article NZ study debunks biodynamic calendar for wine tasting revealed the details of a scientific study that debunked the popularly held belief, in biodynamic circles at least, suggesting that phases of the moon influence our ability to taste wine.
The first I’d heard about any link between phases of the moon and wine was in 1977 when, during a visit to the Bersano winery in the north of Italy, the winemaker explained that he only racked wine on a descending moon. I thought this was wine and witchcraft at work until he explained how the moon influences the tides and that the volume of wine in a tank decreased slightly on a descending moon phase which meant that the lees were more compact allowing more wine to be pumped from the tank without disturbing the sediment. That made sense.
When I came across the NZ study mentioned by Huon I referred it to James Millton, founder/owner/winemaker of Millton Vineyards (tastings) in Hawke’s Bay. I regard James as the founding father of the biodynamic movement in New Zealand and was keen to see how he reacted to the claim that phases of the moon don’t affect our taste for wine.
“I swore and declared I would never do emails on my phone in the vineyard and here I am… working on some reconditioned 28-year-old Chardonnay vines to revive them for another 50 years now seated in their shade emailing you.”
He went on to say,
“I hold scientific study somewhat at arms length when it comes to emotional content.”
Before revealing that while he had been following biodynamic practices for 35 years he had not once referred to the calendar before tasting wine.
“I know full moon (increase in water matter, king tides, lunatics and psychiatric issues etc) has an effect on objective taste as do ascending and descending moons. For growing things (apples, grass, grapes, wheat) I have seen very clearly the effect of planting times in relation to fruits leaves flowers and seeds. You only have to slice an apple at new moon and full moon and see the different rate the flesh oxidises and goes brown.”
Really? My interest piqued when I read that last sentence. I had no idea that the moon could influence the rate of oxidation on a freshly cut apple. Fascinating … and easy to test! I checked the calendar. There was a full moon in a few days. On 12th January I cut a Granny Smith apple in half and photographed the exposed flesh at five-minute intervals. I intend to follow the same procedure on 28th, a new moon day and compare the photographs.
Watch this space!