Werewolf in Napa: How the Moon Affects Wine
by Madeline Blasberg
It tugs at the tide, boosts plant growth, and helps put us to sleep, but can it really influence the way we taste wine? For centuries, mystics have turned to the moon to guide them. Its phases have served as a reference point for sailors, doctors, farmers, and now… wine lovers?
Spend a few days around wine industry insiders and you’re sure to hear the word biodynamic tossed around in conversation. Though the word rings of scientific study, it’s really more of a blend between agriculture and astrology. Biodynamics provide “a unified approach to agriculture that relates the ecology of the earth-organism to that of the entire cosmos,” according to the Association of Biodynamic Farming and Gardening. But what does that mean to us? It means we should look to the moon.
Biodynamic practices are based on the belief that the best wines are produced when vineyard tasks – planting, pruning, harvesting etc. – coincide with specific dates of the lunar calendar. And though these practices have long since been used to govern the production of wine, there are some biodynamic believers who insist that the moon also impacts how a wine tastes. After all, the moon affects the world’s oceans, plant growth, and even our bodies… why should a bottle of wine be any exception?
Maria Thun, biodynamic researcher and full-on believer, created her first biodynamic calendar in the 1950s, which was used to direct farmers to the best time to plant their crops. More recently, she created When Wine Tastes Best 2014: A Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers, which was released on November 1, 2013.
According to her wine drinking guide, and the school of mystic science behind it, the year is broken down into four types of days: fruit, flower, leaf, and root days. Not every day is created equal, certainly not when it comes time to fill up your wine glass. The key to deciphering a biodynamic calendar is knowing the characteristics of each day:
• Fruit days are ideal days to uncork a bottle of wine. Wines tend to express ripe, full fruit notes and appear full-bodied and rich in the mouth.
• Flower days are generally considered neutral. They bring out aromatic floral notes particularly in white wines, and are the second-most auspicious days for wine drinking.
• Leaf days tend to emphasize a wine’s earthiness and minerality, so much so that the wine is thrown into imbalance.
• Root days can derail a wine tasting altogether. Wines tend to be closed, unexpressive, and flat, as though someone had turn downed the volume of the wine tasting experience.
Madeline Blasberg is a Certified Wine Consultant currently working for Etching Expressions as Official Wine Commentator & Reviewer. She has spent time living in Mendoza, Argentina where she was surrounded by wine, both personally and professionally.