LITERATURE

Engraving by Francis Bacon

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Old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

Engraving by Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was a politician, lawyer, philosopher and writer, but above all he was the first modern scientist. He listed the rules of the experimental scientific method in his work Novum organum (1620) in which he puts observation, technique and empirical results ahead of the Aristotelian logic in use when describing nature. As a curiosity, he was a contemporary of William Shakespeare and at the end of the 19th century the theory spread that it was actually Bacon who wrote some of Shakespeare's plays, since otherwise the variety and quantity of knowledge exhibited in the plays would be inexplicable. themselves.

Literature and wine have been inseparable companions throughout history. The act of reading is an intimate act for the most part, in which the reader is absorbed in an imaginary journey to the scene proposed by the writer. And on that journey, the best roommates are those who will help you travel that path in a friendly way, savoring each stage and comforting you at the end of it. A good wine is a faithful, discreet and strengthening support, which allows you to enjoy the trip without distracting the reader.

As not all books are the same, neither should the accompanying wine be. Fresh books, innocent in their development, may require the power of aromas of a young, sparkling wine; reflective books can be enjoyed with a glass of a crianza whereas a great classic, deserves the elegant sobriety of a reserva.

And to close the circle, what if the book contains a story related to the world of wine? So here are some interesting proposals accompanied by Spanish wines:

  • The Winemaker, by Noah Gordon, set in the Penedés, a region famous for its white, light and fruity wines and especially for its cava, in which the Xarel·lograpes are the undisputed protagonists.
  • Taste, by Roald Dahl, where everything revolves around a funny satire around the ability of a taster to discover the origin of a mysterious wine through a bet. I propose a recognition of the work of many winegrowers who strive to recover great varieties that are almost forgotten today, such as fresh reds made with Mencia (Bierzo) grapes.
  • El genio de la botella, Miguel Ángel Aguirre Borrallo, a fun collection of stories and anecdotes narrated by a peculiar genius named Tempranillo. Nothing better than a young rosé from Navarra to enjoy it.
  • La bodega, by Vicente Blasco Ibañez, a tale of revenge in which sherry has a prominent role. A fine “manzanilla”, from the same Jerez region as sherry, made with palomino grapes, will provide the subtle sour and bitter aroma as well as perfume with which to accompany the story.

Cheers!

Illustration of an open book next to a glass of red wine

Sinatech: Teamwork.

PASTEURIZATION

Image of Pasteur at his laboratory

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There is more philosophy and wisdom in a bottle of wine, than in all books.

Image of Pasteur at his laboratory

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) is considered the father of modern microbiology. He definitively refuted the theory of spontaneous generation and developed the principles of sterilization. He showed that the fermentation processes were caused by living microorganisms and that, by neutralizing them by the effect of temperature, these processes were stopped. The method that bears his name, pasteurization, allowed the preservation of products such as milk, beer or wine, being an essential element for the development of these industries.

Before reaching the consumer, it is necessary to carry out some treatments to the wine to ensure its stability over time. The elimination of microorganisms that could alter its organoleptic characteristics is one of the most relevant ones. The traditional methods is the addition of sulfites to control their growth thanks to its bacteriostatic effect. However, the use of sulfites is controversial since its allergenic capacity has been demonstrated and the global trend is to look for alternatives that reduce its use.

An effective option is flash-pasteurization (or HTST method) that recovers the treatment already described by Pasteur. By heating the wine for a short time (around 20s) at temperatures between 50 and 70 ºC, the bacterial flora is destroyed without altering the organoleptic characteristics of the wine. Bacteria are especially sensitive to heat in an acidic environment such as wine; at the same time, the equilibrium between free sulfite and sulfur anhydride shifts towards the sulfite form, which is the one with bactericidal properties, as the temperature increases, allowing the use of smaller amounts of metabisulfite.

Another interesting use is pre-fermentation flash-pasteurization (flash-détente) which was introduced in France just a decade ago. Through this process, the grapes are squeezed and de-stemmed to be immediately subjected to heating (30 seconds, 70-80 ºC) and cooling immediately afterwards, in less than a second, by means of a vacuum chamber. This combination eliminates in a single step all the bacterial and yeast flora in the must (which also allows the winemaker a specific selection of the yeasts that he wishes to use later), inactivates enzymes such as laccase (that favors oxidative damage), breaks the cell wall releasing the components of the grape and removes up to approximately 10% of water due to the effect of the vacuum together with potentially annoying volatile aromas (smell of smoke or herbal aromas) that may (or may not) be returned to the must. The result is a must that is more concentrated in aromas and phenolic compounds, optimal for the production of quality wines even from harvests affected by mildew or botrytis, without affecting varietal characteristics of the grape. The oenologist can then proceed (directly or with a previous settling) to the fermentation in the tank, without additional maceration since the extraction of polyphenols has been complete or carry out much shorter macerations (24 hours) with the consequent saving in time and energy.

Sinatech: Teamwork.

GALILEO. TECHNICAL MATURITY OF THE GRAPE

Image of Galileo contemplating a star

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The sun around which so many planets revolve ... does not forget to ripen a bunch of grapes.

Image of Galileo contemplating a star

Galileo Galilei

With Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) lay the foundations of modern science based on experimental observation and systematic data collection. The invention of the telescope led him to propose the heliocentric model. His arguments oppose the Aristotelian conception of the world, upheld by the Church and lead him to more than 15 years of confrontations with her, until, in 1633, he was forced to abjure his theories under penalty of perpetual imprisonment ... "E pur si muove".

Harvesting at the optimum moment is probably one of the most important decisions that the winemaker makes. Choosing the right time to pick the grapes has a direct effect on a multitude of parameters that evolve within the grain and have a direct impact on the final result. The maturity process begins at the end of the growth of the branches, at the beginning of summer; from that moment on, the sugars migrate towards the grains and shoots, initially in the form of glucose which, as ripening progresses, is transformed into fructose. On the other hand, acids (mainly malic and tartaric) degrade as the surrounding temperature increases. Increasing the water content in the berry also has a dilution effect. The skins begin to produce anthocyanins; the seeds and stalks, tannins and the pulp will accumulate phenolic acids.

The winemaker has to assess the appropriate moment of maturity of the grain that depends, among other factors, on the amount of sugars (industrial maturity), the evolution of color (phenolic maturity), the production of aromas (aromatic maturity) … No all these elements are developed at the same time so the result is always a proposal for a balance between them depending on the type of wine to be produced. The monitoring of different physical-chemical parameters from the time of veraison to the date of harvest is expressed in the form of indices that are monitored until the right moment is reached.

The most commonly used indices use parameters such as the concentration of sugar, polyphenols, potassium or organic acids that are collected periodically in the phases prior to harvest and are compared with empirical curves obtained based on previous experience. This predictive work is complemented with specific monitoring of the weather, since unexpected rains or a sudden rise or fall in temperature can precipitate the decision to harvest since each day that the grape passes in the vine is an additional uncertainty factor compared to to adverse weather conditions.

The need for a quick result, together with the variety of parameters evaluated, make the laboratory work in this phase especially intense and valuable because each plot and variety constitutes its own universe that can evolve slightly differently. A fact that the winemaker must assess appropriately when coordinating the harvest.

Sinatech: Teamwork.

BEETHOVEN. SOUND PAIRING

Image of a cup receiving wine and transforming it to a musical note

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Music is the wine that inspires new creations and I am Bacchus who presses this delicious wine for men and intoxicates them spiritually.

Image of a cup receiving wine and transforming it to a musical note

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) needs no introduction. Considered one of the greatest musical composers in all of history, he is also an example of overcoming and genius in which, despite his deafness and continuous health problems, he was able to compose a multitude of masterpieces, both orchestral and chamber among which its nine symphonies stand out.

According to Greek mythology, Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape harvest and wine, once invited the Olympian gods and the senses (taste, smell, sight, touch and hearing) to a banquet. In this banquet, a wine was served that delighted the attendees, particularly the senses of taste, smell, sight and touch, who were immediately seduced by the pleasures of wine. However, the sense of hearing seemed to feel somewhat pouty at the impossibility of enjoying like the rest of the senses. To remedy this, Dionysus proposed establishing the custom of toasting every time wine was drunk, so that the sense of hearing could enjoy the sound produced by the clash of glasses.

The concept of sound pairing is one of the latest upward trends in the enjoyment of wine. It is about raising the hedonism inherent in listening to a good piece or drinking a glass of wine, looking for the combination of both that best complements their respective virtues. At the end of the day, in both cases it is about stimulating our sensory perception appropriately to achieve the maximum degree of satisfaction. The Scottish Heriott Watt University of Edinburgh published in 2012 (1) that, in expert tasting sessions, the perception of wine changed depending on the background music in the background. Subsequently, other studies have completed this initial observation in an attempt to explain the neurological and psychological bases of it (2,3). In these studies they evaluate the effect of different characteristics of music (tempo, volume, articulation, phrasing, timbre, …) against different wines.

Thus, a powerful wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon has its expression enhanced when we have sound rhythms of equal power, such as Rock, while a velvety Merlot is best enjoyed listening to Soul or R&B. The elegant and balanced Syrahs are the perfect companion for an evening with classical music and the light Chardonnay, are best enjoyed with soft Dance.

It may be a new trend (or not), but what is certain is that good music and good wine are the ideal accessories for a perfect evening.

(1) Wine and song: The effect of background music on the taste of wine. Adrian C. North. B. Journal of Psychology 103 (3) (2012):293-301. https://bpspsychub.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.2044-8295.2011.02072.x

(2) Naomi Ziv, Musical flavor: the effect of background music and presentation order on taste, European Journal of Marketing, 10.1108/EJM-07-2017-0427, 52, 7/8, (1485-1504), (2018).

(3) Pia Hauck and Heiko Hecht, Having a Drink with Tchaikovsky: The Crossmodal Influence of Background Music on the Taste of Beverages, Multisensory Research, 10.1163/22134808-20181321, 32, 1, (1-24), (2019).

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SOPHIA LOREN. THE AROMAS OF WINE

Image of a person inspiring the aroma of wine in a glass

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Perfume, like silk, wine, and flowers, is one of life's necessary luxuries. Its aroma is like a good wine, which needs to be oxygenated before reaching the point of perfection

Wine and health: for a lower cardiovascular diseases

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren (1934-) is one of the leading actresses of Italian cinema and a reference of world cinema. She put her undeniable beauty aside to indulge in her acting side and revealed herself as an actress with an impressive dramatic capacity in films such as “Two Women" (Vittorio de Sica, 1960) or "Italian Marriage" (by V. de Sica, 1964)

Smell is one of the most complex (and largely unknown) senses. It works on the basis of chemical receptors that trigger a strong stimulus in the receptor cells. In the case of man, despite having a minimal olfactory sense compared to that of other animals, it is possible to distinguish more than 10,000 different smells.

Wine is a complex mixture of numerous compounds capable of stimulating different olfactory receptors, some of them in very low concentrations, but which strongly contribute to its specific aroma. One group of these compounds, terpenes, are polymers of isoprene (2-methyl-buta-1,3-diene). Among them, monoterpenes (2 isoprene units) and sesquiterpenes (3 isoprene units) stand out. In the former we find some of the most widespread plant aromas, whether they are alcohols such as linalol (rose), a-terpineol (herbaceous), citronellol (citrus), geraniol (pelargonium) and ho-trienol (linden) or their aldehyde derivatives. In fact, there are thousands of these compounds and, in grapes, we find a good number of them, in concentrations ranging from 500 to 1500 µg / L either in free form or combined with glycosides, mainly in the grape skins, but in highly aromatic varieties (such as Muscat, Albariño or Riesling grapes) they also appear in the pulp.

Along the ripening of the grape, the concentration of both free and combined terpenes increases progressively until about 15-20 days after veraison. From that moment on, the concentration of free forms stabilizes while the combined forms continue to increase significantly for an additional 20-25 days, to finally stabilize for another 15-20 days until the grain is fully ripe. From that moment on, during the overripe phase, the free forms decrease, while the combined ones increase.

Other relevant non-terpenic compounds are methoxypyrazines, which come from the metabolism of amino acids and are characteristic of some grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, especially rich in 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine (green pepper smell).

We also find substances in general with an unpleasant odor such as mercaptans, but which also form compounds with relevant aromas, as in the case of Sauvignon (4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one and 3-mercaptohexyl acetate (A3MH)) and that are released during the fermentation process by the action of specific B-lyases. Also during fermentation, some phenolic compounds (caffeic, p-coumaric and ferulic acid) are released, forming aromatic tartaric esters.

The aroma of wine is always your letter of introduction, something that, with proper training, will give us information about everything we hope to discover when drinking it.

Image of a person inspiring the aroma of wine in a glass

Sinatech: Teamwork.