Shocking the shit out of wine

I read a lot of scientific wine studies. As booze science progresses, it is a great way to expand my understanding of how certain flavor compounds develop, where in the process they originate, how different grapes develop different attributes…you get the idea.

Plus, these papers are fun. Wine people in labs just make me so happy. It’s relaxing.

This one is a little different. As it came through my inbox, I didn’t fully appreciate the overly wordy title. And, since the operations I generally work with are very small, shock therapy for grapes isn’t something I’ve ever encountered.

Let me warn you, if you head over to your handy google search engine and attempt to look this up, most of the results are for anti-aging face treatments.

A friend (read: fellow wine worker at the pub) clued me in. Apparently the cold plasma thermal shock is a cleaning technique commonly employed in agriculture for microbial food safety and shelf-life purposes. The gist of the reading material is that electricity is pulsed through a medium (water…or something else) in which the fruit is submerged. Organic material (salmonella isn’t particularly common on grapes…but you get the idea) is sufficiently stunned and falls away.

The purpose of this overly long winded explanation is that a team in Croatia demonstrated the effects of such treatments on wine. What they found is (pardon the pun) shocking. They noted an increase in the stability wine phenolics, an increase in some phenols in white wines, AND they found that the treatment didn’t affect wine color.

You can read the abstract and highlights here. But, and in all fairness, I’m not sure if they treated grapes or actual wine.

This also begs the question: will such high voltage treatment affect how wines age in the bottle? Hmmmm….discuss among yourselves.

We started drinking early…earlier than scientists (and wine geeks) thought

NPR published a piece today about an 8,000 year old wine jug found in the country of Georgia. While most experts have long pointed to this region as the ancestral starting point for winemaking and the cultivation of vines for ancient man, this is the oldest such evidence found to date.

Neolithic Wine Jug - NPR
Courtesy of the Georgian National Museum via NPR

Which means we started drinking early.

And what did archaeologists find in this jug? Tartaric acid. That’s right, those shiny little crystalline deposits found in bright (not very cold stabilized) white wines across the world. Who knew?

You can read the full story here.