Science Can’t Tell Your Tongue What to Like

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Science seems determined to invade the art and romance of wine, doesn’t it? However, Science Can’t Tell Your Tongue What to Like, can it?

Every so often a new scientific thought, tool or gadget is utilized in evaluating or creating wine. Yes, there are some tools that are helpful like the grape sorter that can help eliminate inferior grapes as determined by programmed specifications. Inventory and managing wine production processes have definitely improved with computers. Inevitably the articles all end subjectively. There is still more to wine than whatever gadget or scientific thought they are evaluating can encompass.

Science + Wine Making Process

“Wine’s newest bouquet has hints of berries — and data” was published yesterday, July 18, 2017, by Erin Carson on Cnet. This article explores the science and the tasting that Palmaz Vineyards is doing. Ms. Carson details the steps that Florencia Palmaz shows them as they taste wine and acquaint those at this tasting with what to expect and the nuances experienced from wine made of the same grape varietal grown in slightly different areas. They have many graphs and charts detailing aspects of the wine

However, I believe that the following quote from the article sums up the major benefit of science in wine making -“[Winemakers] are spending less time worrying about mundane details and more time being creative,” says Christian Palmaz, president of Palmaz Vineyards. The quality assurance that science can give with readings from different equipment testing different aspects of the wine making process is the true advantage of adding science and removing guesswork in the wine creation process.  As Palmaz states, “Palmaz, for example, takes the view that the traditional process of making wine is essentially intact. They’re just watching it with digital eyes.”

Science + Wine Tasting

Last October, PHYS.Org shared an article “Science shows cheese can make wine taste better” in which they briefly shared the information recently published in the Journal of Food Science. A wine tasting study done at the Center for Taste and Feeding Behavior in France was the center of the article.

Science Can't Tell Your Tongue What to Like - Wine

Idea for the Next Party You Host? — Wine Tasting Before & After Cheese

Wine + Cheese has always been a lovely pairing. This study evaluated how the taster’s preferences for wine was impacted by also tasting the cheese. These results are quite interesting as explained by Ms. Glamarini.

“Thanks to our research we learned that the duration of the perception of astringency of a certain wine could be reduced after having cheese and that the four evaluated cheeses had the same effect. In short, when having a plate of assorted cheeses, the wine will probably taste better no matter which one they choose,” lead author Mara V. Galmarini explained.

Thirsty for More Wine & Tastebud Science?

If you are thirsty for more wine and tastebud science, you will definitely be interested in Neuroenology. This recently published book focuses on the science of tasting wine. Mark Schatzker will give you a sip of the information in his April 3, 2017 NPR post entitled “The Taste Of Wine Isn’t All In Your Head, But Your Brain Sure Helps”

I was hooked into reading the entire article after reading this “According to Yale neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd, the flavor of wine “engages more of our brain than any other human behavior.” Apparently, the simple act of sipping Merlot involves a complex interplay.  The air and liquid controlled by coordinated movements of the the tongue, jaw, diaphragm and throat interplay with one another. Inside the mouth, molecules in wine stimulate thousands of taste and odor receptors, sending a flavor signal to the brain that triggers massive cognitive computation involving pattern recognition, memory, value judgment, emotion and of course, pleasure.”

From there the article discusses what neuroscientist Shepherd evaluated and found with his work. We all know about the proper steps of “how” to tasting a wine. Shepherd explains what is happening biologically to make sense of experiencing the wine in simple terms. Throughout the process of sharing what he learned, you can see he appreciates wine personally and professionally.

Wine Color?

Shepherd says “The analogy one can use is color. The objects we see don’t have color themselves — light hits them and bounces off. It’s when light strikes our eyes that it activates systems in the brain that create color from those different wavelengths. Similarly, the molecules in wine don’t have taste or flavor.  However, when they stimulate our brains, the brain “creates” flavor the same way it creates color.” After reading this explanation of wine tasting, our CKJY Exports team definitely needs to read his whole book. What he shares is very interesting science mingling with wine.

Still … the same ending …

All these fairly recent articles relating science and wine, the final summations are that wine is still a personal endeavor. Science may help us refine our wine making processes; however, there is still art and talent in the creation of wine. Similar to assessing the quality of art on a wall, judging the wine in your glass is personal.

Ruth Logsdon, Operations Officer CKJY Exports Inc.

Born a Southern girl, I was transplanted a few times as a Navy wife! Now, our “retired” USN family, calls CA home. As UNC business school grad, I gained lots of useful insights by finding different opportunities and challenges along our military life’s path. Love of traveling, making friends, experiencing other cultures and sharing the best of all that with everyone are now all part of me.

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