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Research pops cork on lunar–effect wine theory

13/02/2017 11:30:00 a.m.


Lincoln researcher Dr Wendy Parr and her colleagues in France and Australia investigated the controversial notion that wines taste different in systematic ways on days determined by the lunar cycle.
 
They had 19 New Zealand wine professionals blind-taste 12 Pinot noir wines at times determined within the biodynamic calendar for wine drinkers as being favourable (fruit day) and unfavourable (root day) for wine tasting.

The tasters rated each wine four times, twice on a fruit day and twice on a root day, using 20 experimenter-provided descriptors.
The wines were perceived as different in a variety of ways, but the specific day on which they were tasted did not affect how they were rated.

A biodynamic calendar for wine drinkers was first published around 50 years ago, in German.

The calendar provides ‘days’ when the moon’s rhythms suggest that a wine will taste its best. The ‘days’ are temporal intervals categorised according to star constellations and the movement of the moon in terms of ascending and descending cycles.

The calendar is now published in English and is available also in phone app form.

 “Anecdotal evidence suggests that some professionals in the wine industry, in particular wine producers and retail outlet and wine distribution company staff, appear to accept that the moon may exert some sort of influence over how a beverage tastes on a particular day, despite the lack of scientific evidence, “ Dr Parr says.

The controversial philosophy has steadily increased in influence within the international wine industry, she says.

“For example, a wine may be perceived as tasting different across two successive tastings of the same wine, or “not showing well” on a particular day.”

She says there are many reasons that could underlie such perceived differences including wine composition factors, weather and atmospheric pressure, and human perception factors, including memory and mood of the taster. 
 
The findings highlight the importance of testing experimentally practices that are based on anecdotal evidence, she adds.

Dr Parr also emphasises the study does not investigate or “debunk” biodynamic agriculture, but merely tests the central tenet of the published wine drinkers’ calendar.
 
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