When you gaze up to the sky at night, the moon is inevitably the first thing that will catch your eye. This enormous celestial body is Earth’s natural satellite and there are few things better (or more romantic) than a moonlit night.
The moon also has a startling effect on what happens here on Earth.
The obvious example is that the moon’s gravitational pull affects the tides. Without the moon, our seas would be a lot stiller than they are.
Plenty of legends have also arisen that relate to the moon. The ancient “threat” of werewolves is that they transform under the light of the full moon. And the moon, in general, has always been linked with witchcraft and the occult.
But it’s never been linked to Italian wine…
There’s a growing contingent of people who will tell you that the moon has an effect on the quality of your wines. They claim that waiting until the moon is in a certain state before consuming your wine allows the drink to achieve a higher level of quality.
Is there any credence to these claims?
This article examines the concept that the moon affects Italian wine.
What Does the Moon Have to Do With Wine?
The theory goes that the moon can affect how you taste your wine. And it stems from the creation of the biodynamic calendar. Developed by a woman named Maria Thun, the calendar works by determining the position of the moon, with the idea being that this allows wine producers to figure out the best times for planting and sowing their produce. The calendar charts the lunar cycle, assigning root, flower, fruit, and leaf days as it goes.
According to those who follow this theory, wines tasted during the flower and fruit days will offer something a little extra to the drinker. The idea seems to be that these are the two types of days that match closely with the notes and taste of the wine.
By contrast, drinking wine on a leaf or root day will lend it a more mineral quality, dampening the fruity and floral notes in the process.
The question now is whether there’s any truth to the theory.
Unfortunately, it’s likely that there isn’t.
A 2017 study published in the PLOS ONE journal examined the idea of drinking wine based on the biodynamic calendar. The researchers gathered a group of wine professionals and had them blindly taste a variety of Pinot Noir wines at different stages of the calendar. Key here is that the professionals weren’t told which type of day they were drinking on. This assured there was no unintentional bias created by the knowledge that the professionals were drinking on a flower or root day.
The study concluded that the professionals judged the wines they were tasting based on a wide range of factors. However, it seemed that the type of day had little effect on their opinions on the flavour profile of the wine. As such, it appears that the biodynamic calendar may not be as effective as those who subscribe to this theory claim it is.
So, does the moon affect how we taste our wines?
A wine scientist named Jamie Good digs into the issue a little more when speaking to the BBC:
“Wine tastes different on different days but the differences are not that huge and the differences are more about atmospheric pressure.
“And we are part of the equation when it comes to tasting wine. We are not measuring devices. The taste of the wine is something we generate in response to the wine.”
This is an interesting statement.
Jamie points out that the type of day does affect the taste of our wines. However, it’s not the type of day as ascribed by the biodynamic calendar. Instead, differences in atmospheric pressure, coupled with our own tastebuds, seem to make a big difference in how we taste.
Should Winemakers Bottle Wines Based on the Position of the Moon?
The studies suggest not. As romantic as a notion as it may be, the moon appears to have little effect on the taste of Italian wine. As such, winemakers should probably avoid following the biodynamic calendar when bottling, especially if that calendar causes issues elsewhere in the winemaking process.
Instead, there are a number of other key components of the process that take precedent over the type of day it supposedly is. These include the following:
- The clarity of the wine. If a wine does not appear perfectly clear, it is not ready to be bottled. Attempting to bottle an unclear wine ahead of time based on the biodynamic calendar leads to a murky product that loses much of its quality.
- Exposure is a big issue too. Allowing the grapes to stay out in the open creates the possibility for various types of bacteria to develop inside the juice. For example, Acetobacter, which is a bacteria carried on the feet of fruit flies, can lead to the wine developing a vinegary taste. As such, it’s best for the producer to get the wine into barrels for ageing before ensuring a smooth transition to the bottle to ensure as little bacteria as possible makes its way into the wine.
- The temperature also has a much larger effect on the wine than the moon. Ideally, a producer will want to cold stabilise their wine before bottling it. This process involves storing the wine at a temperature below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which means it occurs quite naturally during the winter months.
Italian Wine and the Moon
Unfortunately, the admittedly small amount of scientific research conducted on the biodynamic calendar appears to indicate that the moon has very little, if any, effect on the quality of Italian wine.
Instead, the biggest impacts come from the producers sticking to tried and tested production methods. Deviation from what we know will work can actually lead to the wines tasting worse than they should. So, as romantic as it is to enjoy a glass of wine with a loved one while gazing at a full moon, the moon should probably not determine how we enjoy our wines.
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