Skunked Wine

My college RA imparted many words of wisdom, but none were heeded so vigorously as the proscription against letting cold beer get warm.  This, he confidently stated, caused beer to “skunk.”  These words hit home for our entire floor and we carefully planned our purchases of warm or cold beer accordingly.  But no matter how careful we were...

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Unnatural Selection: Mankind's Longstanding Interference in the Genetics of Wine

Centuries of selecting the choicest vines for cloning, or layering as it was called, yielded a similar result as the selective breeding of wolves and dogs: a plethora of different varieties that look, taste and act differently, but which are all the same species.  However, even with all of the human effort expended on intentional selection and propagation of vines, nature, unperturbed, continued its own experiments in tandem through cross-pollination.  As is often the case in wine, it is the combination of human labor and natural chance that yields the greatest rewards.  

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The American Roots of Viticulture: How the U.S. Saved European Viticulture

For the next 20 years, phylloxera ravaged European vineyards -- France’s in particular -- and wine production cratered 70%.  Panic.  Thousands of farmers were watching their lives and legacies die in front of their eyes, and once the enemy became known, a frantic search for solutions began.

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Wine as a Tool For Appreciating Smell

The human body is incredible.  Everyday, millions of individual processes are needed to simply wake up, get out of bed, and make coffee.  It’s easy, even necessary, to overlook this complexity, but every once in a while, a little appreciation for the capabilities of the body is in order, especially when it comes to one of the more overlooked senses -- smell.

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Teach the Controversy: Are Sulphites in Wine a Problem?

Sulphur, sulphites, or, to be precise, sulphur dioxide, is much maligned in the wine industry.  This is somewhat understandable.  Sulphur dioxide in low concentrations smells terrible and in high concentrations is quite toxic.  And if that isn’t enough, sulphur, also known as brimstone, is strongly associated with hell.

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