Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How do you hold a moonbeam in your cup?

When I was a house dweller, as opposed to my current condo life, I gardened more extensively. At some point I noticed the lunar planting tables in the Farmer's Almanac. Hokum, surely — but I tried it. I didn't keep detailed records (I'm more a scatter-and-cocktail kind of planter), but the year I planted and harvested according to the moon cycles was noticeably more bountiful than the year before.

I mention this only because I've begun seeing this kind of discussion revived in the world of wine. The UK Guardian, for instance, recently had this story about whether the phases of the moon affect not just how a vine will grow but how the wine itself will taste on certain days. According to a lunar calendar devised by Maria Thun, there are so-called "fruit" days and "root" days – those days in the lunar calendar when water and saps rise or fall.

"I was sceptical at first, but then had a eureka moment," says Jo Aherne, winemaker at Marks & Spencer. "Our wines showed beautifully at a press tasting one day and far less well the next. We couldn't understand it. The wines were all favourites of ours and the bottles were all from the same case. Someone checked the calendar and we found that the first day had been a fruit day, when the wines were expressive, exuberant and aromatic, and the second a root day, when they were closed, tannic and earthy. Further rather unscientific tests have confirmed our view."

I've hunted for information about other beverages, including tea, and come up short. Is there a tide in the cup?

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