• The History and Science of Malolactic Fermentation

    The History

     Brad Webb with Ambassador Zellerbach

    Brad Webb had landed the dream job. It was 1956, and he’d just been appointed winemaker at a new winery, Hanzell, founded by James D. Zellerbach, the wealthy US ambassador to Italy. Zellerbach had spared no expense in pursuing his dream of making classically styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to rival the wines of Burgundy. Webb had at his disposal an array of shiny new tanks…

    • 1 Jun 2016
  • How Does a Better Understanding of Wine Science Fit with Understanding Wine?

    I came to wine from a background as a scientist. I spent six years at university—three each for my undergraduate degree and doctorate—and so I became pretty good at thinking scientifically. Many of you will have come to wine from careers or studies that are similarly quantitative. You can measure things; you can formulate hypotheses; if you study enough you can nail down the answers. Cause and effect. 

    And…

    • 27 Oct 2015
  • The Taste of Wine: Acid, Sweetness, and Tannin

    Continuing on from my last article for the Guild, which looked at the visual appearance of wine, this time I’m going to focus on aspects of taste.

    Here the term taste is used to refer to the experience of wine in the mouth, but we can’t discount the sense of smell here, because it is pretty much impossible to taste a wine without smelling it at the same time. This is because of retronasal olfaction: volatile molecules…

    • 11 Mar 2013
  • The Visual Assessment of Wine

    It has often been said that we taste with our eyes. How a wine appears in the glass matters a great deal, because ‘taste’ itself is a multimodal perceptive event involving a number of senses, including vision alongside touch, taste and smell. Even the information we have about a wine influences the actual perception of the wine: brain-scanning studies have shown that experienced sommeliers process the taste of wine in…

    • 12 Jul 2012
  • Questions on Chemistry and the Flavor of Wine

    I was really pleased with the response to my first article here on wine flavour chemistry. Some of the comments raised interesting questions, and to do these justice I thought I’d use them as the basis for this second piece.

    ‘As amazing as this article is we must not for forget the statement that the interaction between the wine and the taster has a huge influence on the final outcome and ultimately the perception…

    • 20 Dec 2011
  • Wine Flavour Chemistry

    Wine. It’s a liquid made of chemicals. And some of these chemicals have smells and tastes. That, in a nutshell, is wine flavour chemistry—a dauntingly complex but utterly engrossing topic. It’s my goal with this article to try to introduce the subject, outline some of the emerging concepts, and make sure that you stay reading to the end. 

    There are two ways of approaching wine flavour chemistry. One is…

    • 7 Sep 2011