Let me say straight off the bat that I'm a fan of modern science and medicine. We're doing some amazing things when it comes to understanding many aspects of the world around us. I'll even go so far as to say I'm not entirely against genetically modifying some foods, especially when it's done with humanitarian or critical health goals and is absent the draconian, ahem, corporate politics of folks like Monsanto.
But sometimes, science just seems stupid.
This little experiment seems like it started with the best intentions: an effort to understand the genetics of tannin production in wine. A byproduct of the experiment seems to be an understanding of which genes are responsible for the creation of vitamin C in grapes. Instead of just saying, "Oh, that's interesting" and going back to figuring out useful stuff about tannins, these researchers seem to have been possessed with the ghost of Linus Pauling, and are now off trying to see if they can genetically engineer wine grapes to produce large quantities of vitamin C.
Um. Hello? I'd prefer to get my vitamins ANY other way than from wine. Most of the things I really enjoy eating and drinking are bad for me and I'd prefer to keep them that way. OK, so there are some health benefits already from drinking wine, but for pete's sake, there are a lot of things that grape scientists could be figuring out instead of this.
What could those be you ask? In case there are any grape scientists reading I'd like to now present Vinography's Top Five Areas for Scientific Inquiry into Wine:
1. Do the Biodynamic preparations and voodoo like mystical practices like stirring 50 times in one direction and 50 times in another direction actually do anything that can be measured or quantified?
2. What are the physio-chemical manifestations of terroir when it comes to the chemical composition of the grape?
3. Do corks really let oxygen into the bottle and does that oxygen really play a role in aging a wine?
4. Based on trends in global warming, where in Norway will be the best place to grow Cabernet in 30 years?
5. How can we make Carmenere actually taste good?
Spend some time on those, please. And leave the vitamins to the Flintstones.
Elsewhere in the world, scientists have decoded the entire genome for the Pinot Noir grape, a task which promises to have many more beneficial effects than increased vitamin content in the wine. The useful prospects of knowing the entire genetic blueprint for Pinot Noir include the possibility of developing more disease resistant varietal clones as well as better understanding how to make lower impact pesticides that will be better for the grapes and for the environment.
Now THAT's real wine science. Read the full story.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune