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Lunar cycles and other wobbly factors that affect wine tasting


I don’t know much about lunar cycles. Hell, here in Oakland you can barely see the moon, even when it’s full. But this article from states that “wine changes its taste with the lunar cycle.” Seems that when the moon is in a “Root period,” wine will taste yucky, whereas a “Fruit” or “Flower” period is more favorable to the tasting experience. Think that’s whack? Pierpaolo Petrassi doesn’t. He’s an MW and Senior Product Development Manager at, one of England’s biggest wine retailers. “Our first choice [to taste wines] is a fruit day. We seek to avoid root and leaf days,” he told the publication. Another British MW, Jo Aherne, who’s the winemaker for the big online retailer, Marks & Spencer, told that he, too, has become convinced moon cycles affect tasting. “I was really unconvinced, but the difference between the days was so obvious I was blown away.” As a result, says the article, “Tesco and Marks & Spencer, it emerged yesterday, now only invite critics to taste their ranges when the moon-related biodynamic calendar dictates that wines will be at their best.”

Well, if the moon can affect the tides, I guess it can impact our bodies. But there are lots of things that influence how wine tastes, which is something that the hardest-working critics well know. If you’ve eaten a lot of salt (smoked salmon, anyone?) within the previous day, wines may taste salty. On some days, you may be more sensitive to residual sugar than on others. Sometimes, the palate may just be fatigued or dulled, for whatever reason. Allergies that clog sinuses can certainly throw you off, but if you’re a working reviewer, you can’t just wait for allergy season to end. In a bad mood because of a fight with your significant other? That may not be helpful to your ability to taste wine. Lost a ton of money in your retirement account? Get over it. And let’s not even talk about brushing your teeth or sucking on a breath mint before tasting.

I could go on. Tasters are only human, not machines. My computer is a machine, but even it breaks down on occasion. (Calling technical support…) This is why, as I’ve said before many times, it’s important for a professional taster to establish a tasting routine, and stick to it. Taste at the same time, every day, under the same circumstances, from the same glasses, and with the same procedures. It won’t eliminate all the wobbly factors completely, but it’s the best you can do. Even when the moon is Root.


  1. Rather than looking up to the skies, I recommend looking at the wall – where the thermometer and barometer are.

    Ambient temperature, humidity and pressure have much more to do with the way a wine expresses its aromas.

    …and don’t get me started on magnets (too late!). Look up the magnetic power of a diagnostic MRI in Teslas and then compare that to the power of all the gadgets being alleged to affect wine taste. If you feel no different in an 1.5T to 3T diagnostic magnet of an MRI, then the wine won’t change with a magnet that can’t event keep my kid’s report card up on the fridge door.

    I feel better now….

  2. “I was really unconvinced, but the difference between the days was so obvious I was blown away.”

    How does one compare the two days? By memory? Sounds about as scientific as burying a horn full of crap in the vineyard.

  3. It would be tough to get funding for a double-blind random study on the effects of the biodynamic calendar on taste, but it would be interesting if for no other reason than it might debunk this claim.

    I can tell you that I have two Pinot Noirs in release right now; either one alone tastes quite yummy, but side-by-side there are notable differences. And which one is “best” seems to alternate on a two-week cycle. Maybe one is a “root” wine and one is a “fruit” wine. Or maybe there is natural chemical oscillation in the bottle – like a redox couple.

    But I would argue that if a taster believes that the moon affects the taste of wine, then it does.

  4. Ted

    The only way is to find some quantifiable data points to represent the way the different components are expressed.

  5. Wow….

    I’m surprised that people are listening to an MW when it comes to something like astrophysics. Unfortunately, I’m not too surprised that an MW (which is NOT a college conferred degree) would be taken into the bunk which biodynamic theory concocts and promotes.

    Frankly, if you really want to rid yourself of bias in a situation like this you need to taste double-blind, and replicate it over several days to eliminate or minimize interferences from food, allergies, domestic squabbles, etc.

    None of which the followers of biodynamics will probably ever subject themselves to for fear of exposing the lie!

  6. Fred Nickel says:

    Certain anointed folk seem to get bent over a biodynamic agrarian lifestyle or mindset. Me thinks they protest too much.
    You will never find BD growers and producers ever needing to defend their cultural practices, or attempting to convince anyone that their way is ‘better’. They really don’t care what others think. It is a belief system that comes to each in their own way…. or not at all.
    To each their own! That’s what makes life so fun.

  7. I think any MW who promotes this BS should be stripped of his title. It only serves to call the MW certification into question to hear tripe like this espoused from those we should be trusting for guidance.

    Fred Nickel can say they don’t care what we think, but I won’t believe that’s the case until they stay out of the press and stop using BD to market their wines! Sort of like saying “Oh, the 95 that I got from Parker isn’t really that important to me. Did I mention he gave me a 95?”

  8. Well put, Steve. In a way, a wine reviewer is doing a scientific experiment. It is best practice to reduce as many external variables as possible.

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