Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tasting By The Moon

Some people would advise you not to drink your wine today as they believe it is not going to taste as good as it should. Why? Because today is a "root" day.

Should wine reviewers taste wine only on certain days, days which allegedly are more optimum for the flavor of the wine? While touring Bordeaux, should Robert Parker skip tasting on specific days to get a more accurate view of wine quality? Should Gary Vaynerchuk only tape his videos on particular days so as allow the wines he tastes to show their best? Is the only difference between an 89 point wine and a 90 wine point just the fact they are tasted on different days?

In short, should wine reviewers follow the beliefs of a German great-grandmother who spends much of her time gardening?

There are some who would answer affirmatively to that last question. They include Tesco and Marks & Spencer, two major supermarket chains in Britain. Between the two of them, they sell about one-third of all the wine drunk in Britain. So they wield some power in the wine industry in Britian. But who is this influential German woman and why is anyone listening to her?

Maria Thun is the name of this influential woman and she is considered an authority on biodynamic agriculture. Besides being an author of books on gardening and biodynamics, she also created the “Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar,” which was first published back in the 1962. (Though there are some references claiming it was published in the late 1950s.) The calendar is used by farmers and gardeners to determine the best days for various agricultural and planting activities.

Yet the calendar has another purpose, to indicate the optimum days to drink wine! Based on the rhythms and configurations of the moon, planets and constellations, days are categorized as "fruit," "flower," "leaf" or "root" days. Wine is supposed to taste best, with the most flavor, on fruit days, followed by flower, leaf and root days. So, you should only drink wine on fruit and flower days and not on leaf or root days. It is not so much that wines will taste horrible on leaf or root days, it is more that they will not show their true potential. They will be more subdued, less flavorful, less expressive. In addition, on fruit days, the fruit flavors of a wine will be most evident while on flower days, the wine will show more floral and perfume notes.

This is simply an extention of the biodynamic concept, which is embraced by numerous wineries and farmers. You certainly hear plenty about biodynamic farming and wine making, yet you hear almost nothing about biodynamic wine tasting. But you may soon hear more and more about this unusual concept.

As mentioned above, Tesco and Marks & Spencer, both adhere to the beliefs of Thun on biodynamic wine tasting. For at least a few years, they have been using her calendar to determine the optimum time for when they should allow wine reviewers to taste their wines. But it is only recently that this has been made public. They claim there is a clear difference in the taste of wines dependent on the day you drink them.
There may be other wine stores and/or wineries that also are relying on Thun's calendar for tastings, but who have not come forward yet to make that fact known.

I am very skeptical of biodynamics, so I don't lend much credence to this belief that the moon and stars affects the taste of wine. Yet it might make for an interesting test.

Have any of you tested this concept? Do you know anyone else who is relying on biodynamic wine tasting? What do you think about this concept?


1WineDude said...

Interesting stuff - I guess we'll find out tonight with TTL!

MichellePC said...

I actually held a wine tasting courtesy of The Traveling Vineyard on 7/18...and the company had no qualms about holding it that day. The wine tasted just fine, too! In my opinion, putting any kind of limit on drinking wine is downright silly.