October 20, 2008

Don't go into the light, Carol Anne

If you're up to date in your Lab Reports, you'll know that we have been bombarding a bottle of Pacific Rim Dry Riesling with Ultraviolet radiation in hopes of recreating the "lightstrike" wine fault under laboratory conditions (the original FINDING FAULT Lab post is here).

We subjected the bottle to 10-12 hours of UV-light each day over a six day period.

Now there's an argument to be made that we'd have been better off irradiating our wine in a tanning bed. As it may be that radiation in the UVA/B spectrum is more effective in this regard.

But we're a scientific lab, not a tanning salon. So we went with what we had, namely, a SterilGARD III ADVANCE class II Biological Safety Cabinet.

Lightstrike occurs through a reductive process which creates a number of sulfuric compounds, among them something called thiols. Thiols are the same chemical component used to give natural gas it's rank smell. They make old beer taste skunky. They actually make actual skunks smell skunky. Trying to get them into your wine is clearly ill-advised.

So we held our noses (figuratively; wouldn't be much of a test if we'd actually held our noses) and blindly tasted our thiol-thick wine against one not similarly abused.

It wasn't easy to tell the good from the bad. The wine from the sterilization tank had a strong odor of rubber bands, and a burnt rubber taste apparent on the palate as well.

When not abused the Pacific Rim Riesling is a competent, if somewhat boring, expression of the grape. (I believe we already mentioned it's a "great value"). A nose of mandarin orange and citrus zest with hints of honey and straw. A straightforward palate of pear (sweet) and lime (acid).

Someone did note the irony that the goût de lumière was slightly phenolic. And so could almost pass as goût de pétrole in a Riesling. We've asked the Baker company to alert us if they have an upswing of sales of SterilGARD cabinets in the Mosel river valley.

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