Does the moon affect how you taste wine? Yes!
Okay – call me a hippie, give me a flowery kaftan & pour me another glass of dandelion wine, but I am totally converted to the idea that a wine tastes differently depending on the cycle of the moon. I recently took part in an experiment with Avondale Wines to see if taste buds are affected by the different phases of the moon according to the Biodynamic Calendar. And the answer – in my opinion – is yes.
Biodynamics is still a bit of a new idea here in South Africa but in France and the rest of Europe, it has been extensively used for centuries. Put in its simplest form, it’s a way of harnessing the powers of nature to ensure that your land is healthy and sustainable. And of course, that it is producing the maximum crop possible at any one time without damaging itself. It involves a series of different ‘preparations’ which are used to balance out the eco-system of your field, pasture or vineyard, some of which have gained much notoriety for being a tad bizarre – cow manure buried in a cow horn and then dug up, diluted and sprayed for example. Those who like the idea, swear by it. Others – including me – are a little more sceptical.
Root, Fruit, Leaf or Flower
Which made me the ideal person to take part in the Lunar Taste Test organised by Avondale. One of the key aspects of Biodynamics is the idea of a Lunar Calendar, whereby every day is allocated one of four labels – Root, Fruit, Leaf or Flower – with the idea that certain vineyard activities will be more propitious on certain days. But, because it is governed by the moon and therefore, the tides, it means that anything containing water is affected which includes human beings! So in theory, we should taste different things during the different cycles – and we did.
Avondale had tried to make the conditions as fair as possible. We had no idea which day was which during the 2 weeks we carried out these tastings. The wines were the same wines, a fresh bottle of each was opened at the same time of day for each tasting. The tastings were in the same room, with the same group of people, using the same glasses etc etc – look, it wasn’t in a science lab, but all the conditions were, to all intents and purposes, identical.
And the wines were different. We started off on a Fruit day and, although I really liked the white wines, I found the reds to be jammy and over-extracted. The second tasting was a Leaf day and this time, the reds showed better with the fruit being more restrained and much better balance overall. The third day was a Root day – and the wines were awful! Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong but compared to the first two days, the wines on day three were muted, dull, flabby and lacked acidity, balance and intensity.
The final day – Flower – made everyone happy and was easily my favourite day. It is fair to say that there was some debate about which styles people preferred on the Fruit and Leaf days and universal agreement on the Root and Flower days which proved that this calendar isn’t immune to personal tastes to a certain extent. And now the question is – what do we do with this information? Suggestions were made at the time that Avondale should close on Root days (this was very popular with their tasting room team!) and when it was discovered that several big retail chains use the calendar as a guide to plan their tastings, it seemed a sensible way to go. For me, I’m sold on this idea – I didn’t want to believe it, but there was a definite difference in the wines - so I shall try my utmost to only taste wine on ‘good’ days from now on. Bring on the loony and loopy jokes – I’m a convert!
Follow @CathyMarston and @food24 on twitter .
To see the results of the Luna Taste Tests with Avondale, click here.