A weekly roundup of interesting wine news on the blahblahsphere:
Loud music makes alcohol taste sweeter, and may help explain why we drink too much in bars, according to a British study reported in the Daily Mail. The researchers concluded that the music distracts us so that we lose track of how much booze we’ve swilled. I dunno, if I was in the bar pictured here, I think I’d be distracted more by those women than whatever music was playing. But this does raise an interesting question for wine critics – does music influence our perceptions of wine? Let’s get some writers together, crank up the hip hop and the Mozart, and see if one group prefers New World fruit bombs while the other likes those dirty Euro wines.
The Academic Wino reports on another study in which new, extra-sensitive detection methods succeeded in measuring small amounts of egg white proteins in bottled wine. Egg whites are commonly used to “fine” wines by attracting impurities as they float down through the liquid (think of the “boat” of whipped egg whites used in clarifying consommé). But the egg whites supposedly aren’t in the finished wine. The implications of the study are significant, as egg white proteins are allergens, and many countries require any allergen content to be labeled. This article does not, however, raise the question of other additives commonly used in winemaking. How many of those reach our glasses? Velcorin, for example, is a rather nasty substance added to wine to counter brettanomyces, those yeasty beasties responsible for the bandaid-barnyard flavors that ruin too many wines. Velcorin is approved for use in wine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because it breaks down into harmless chemicals in wine. But do we really want to risk drinking its residue, especially when careful winemaking and sanitation would eliminate the need for using such drastic treatments?
The National Organic Standards Board last week rejected a petition that would have allowed certain wines containing small amounts of sulfites to be labeled as “Organic.” This simplification would have removed the need for the confusing “made with organically grown grapes” designation. Alder Yarrow and W.Blake Gray are stinging in their criticism of the board’s ruling. After all, why would we want to make wine more understandable for consumers?
Trying to figure out what to buy the wine lover on your holiday list? Never fear, The Wine Curmudgeon – my buddy Jeff Siegel – offers helpful do’s and don’ts for wine gift giving in his annual holiday guide.