I am writing about wine and the moon under a clear night sky in a blast of lunar light (augmented by the illumination of a laptop). And I’m looking at the moon differently because I am told the moon can affect how wine tastes. With Best in Glass month just around the corner and, with it, the opportunity to taste a variety of wines over several days, that is just too cool a concept to miss.
A hundred years ago, a philosopher and educator named Rudolf Steiner came up with the elements of what today is called biodynamic agriculture. Steiner thought the pull of the moon affected the flow of sap in plants, and took that belief farther to postulate that where the moon was on an astrological chart affected its influence even more.
Steiner believed certain days, called “fruit days,” were good for picking fruit plants (like grapes) and other days better for picking root plants (carrots and turnips) and still other days for flowering plants and leaf plants. For us wine drinkers that means (according to Steiner proponents) that some days allow wine (a fruit for all intents and purposes) to show its best, or hardly show at all.
The idea is that fruit days (when the moon is, astrologically speaking, in one of the three fire signs – Aires, Leo and Sagittarius) are when a wine shows its fruit to greatest advantage, while root days (when the moon is in one of the earth signs — Capricorn, Taurus and Virgo) are not at all good for wine. Leaf days (when the moon is in one of the water signs – Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) are ho-hum and flower days (when the moon is in one of the air signs – Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are great for aromatic wines.
The BBC (based in a country of gardeners as well as wine drinkers) reports that the wine buyers for both Tesco, an enormous grocery store chain, and Marks & Spencer, a luxury goods purveyor, will only taste wine and make purchasing decisions on fruit days.
Now, I’m not about to rule out wine for half the days of the month while the moon languishes in one part of the astrological sky, but my friends at Wine Folly have carried out some taste tests and, against their better judgment and expectations, conclude that red wine does indeed taste best on fruit days, and aromatic wines, like torrontes and gewürztraminer, do seem best on flower days while most wines taste less vibrant on root and leaf days. Is it enough of a difference that you will notice it and push away that proffered glass of Château Lafite? If someone else is buying there is nothing that would have me push away a glass of Lafite, but this could still be fodder for idle chatter at a wine bar.
I’m intrigued enough by the concept that I’m going to start keeping a log, but here’s the catch – it’s not enough to say one wine tastes good on a fruit day and another wine tastes bad on a root day. You have to taste the same wine (not the same bottle, but the same wine) on successive days to see if it turns out differently. And this is where we return to Best in Glass – what better opportunity is there to taste a variety of wines by the glass? Stay tuned as we announce the restaurants participating in Best in Glass month. I’ll have a summary next week on the blog, and Best in Glass month begins March 15. And in the meantime, get your log ready, and download a lunar calendar. A handy one can be found at Rhythm of Nature.
This is what I love about wine – the research is such a treat.