October 16, 2008

Goût de lumière

The "taste of light." Sounds sexy doesn't it? Like a gift from the fairies. Or a something you eat on the way to Nirvana. But goût de lumière -- lightstrike in English -- is actually a fault that makes tainted wine taste like rancid rubber bands or damp sheep.

Amongst the flaws in our FINDING FAULT series, we voted LIGHTSTRIKE as the flaw with the best name (see THIS NOTE on voting at the Lab).

According to wikipedia:
Lightstruck wines are those that have had excessive exposure to ultraviolet light... Very delicate wines, such as Champagnes, are generally worst affected, with the fault causing a wet cardboard or wet wool type flavor and aroma... The fault explains why wines are generally bottled in colored glass, which blocks the ultraviolet light, and why wine should be stored in dark environments.
Good to know why wine bottles are green. But what does lightstrike really taste like?

At the Lab, we are determined to find out. So we jammed a bottle of Pacific Rim, NV, Dry Riesling into a SterilGARD III ADVANCE class II Biological Safety Cabinet (manufactured by the Baker Company) that we use to sterilize instruments. We plan to bombard the bottle with a massive dose of ultraviolet radiation (254nm/UVC), and then taste it blind against a bottle stored carefully in our cellar.

No doubt, several questions come quickly to mind. First of which must surely be: Who makes non-vintage Riesling?

Randall Grahm is who. Grahm is the eccentric genius of Bonny Doon Vineyard. He has scaled back his business significantly to focus on the production of single-vineyard wines driven by our old friend the magic mud. Which means this non-vintage Riesling is a vineyard by-product. Whether or not this is left-over juice is pure speculation on my part, but I do know that this wine is made from grapes grown in Washington state and then blended with additional wine sourced from the Mosel region in Germany. You can buy it at Trader Joe's for $9.

What? It's not like we were going to irradiate something expensive.

You won't want to miss the results. Stay tuned...

(girl with wings: © George Mayer | Dreamstime.com )


Montalcino Report said...

That is so interesting. I'm looking forward of reading the tasting notes

Anonymous said...

that is so cool. when do we find out?
my dad says that his beer tastes "foxy" if it goes between room temperature and chilled too many times. Can you have some of your team investigate that?

Chief of Lab Research said...

Foxy like Charlie's Angels? Or foxy like a fox peed in my beer?