Well, we could use some comedy around here these days, and here’s someone from the Napa Valley wine business to help us out. Let’s work up to this one slowly: do you drink wine? If you do, do you swirl it around in the glass at any point? Do you think it matters, for the taste, which direction you swirl it?

Didn’t see that one coming, did you? But never fear, answers are at hand. (Thanks to LeighJKBoerner on Twitter, via Chemjobber.

. . .When you swirl your wine to the left (counter clockwise) the scent you pick up is from the barrels over the grapes, what we call the spice shelf. When you swirl the wines to the right (clockwise) you pick up more flavors from the fruit. . .The question comes up, why is that? Now, as a master herbalist and aroma-therapist, and as someone who has lectured extensively on natural health, anatomy and physiology I know a thing or two about plants, and how people perceive them. So, based upon what I know about how living cells function, these are my insights.

Let’s pause a moment, because I want to make sure that everyone’s braced for those insights. Make sure that you’re ready to keep up with a master aromatherapist and natural health lecturer, because it’s going to get pretty, um, technical at this point:

Like all living things wine cells have a magnetic polarity, just like humans and the Earth. The positive pole is more highly charged, just like the North Pole of the Earth, which is why there are Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle, but not Southern Lights in the Antarctic. (Link added for clarity, and because I just couldn’t resist – DBL) This polarity tends to keep wine cells generally upright, spinning on their axis when they are being swirled. This magnetic action within a liquid is commonly demonstrated in laboratories. Because plant molecules are mostly liquid, when they form they are also subject to the electromagnetic forces that are a component of the rotation of the Earth. As a result, the pores on the surface of the molecules develop based on that rotation, like the shingles on a roof.

He probably lost you at “wine cells” – see, I told you it was going to be hard to keep up. Note that a follow-up to this adjusts that language, saying that “The proper term would be molecule or even atom”, which is surely pretty much roughly the same thing as a cell, right? When you’re talking about wine? That second article is worth reading all by itself, by the way, for the kind of check-out-my-credentials display that would do well for a bird of paradise during mating season. But let’s get back to the science:

“. . .when you swirl the wine clockwise the pressure of the surrounding fluid forces the fruit flavors out through the pores. It also pushes any flavors concentrated on the surface down onto the skin of the molecule. . .. . .Everything has a polarity right down to the atomic level, and when put into suspension in a liquid it rotates in relation to that pole. Because we are on a planet that has both a polar system and a consistent rotation, everything forms with a pole and a circular patterning. Wind it one way and it tightens and wind it the other and it unwinds.

Honestly this is just basic physics related to molecular science and plant chemistry, something which herbalists and herbal researchers deal with all the time. A pretty sober group of people. . .

So there you have it! Those herbal researchers, they must be right up there on the edge of knowledge if they deal with this kind of stuff all the time. All of this, and it’s all half-understood second-hand gibberish, of course, reminds me of the biodynamic wine movement, which from what I can tell is stuffed just as full as it can be with, well, let’s just call it half-understood second-hand gibberish.

Check out “Preparation 501”, a key part of the process: “Ground quartz is buried in cow horns in the soil over summer. The horn is then dug up, its contents (called horn silica or ‘501’) are then stirred in water and sprayed over the vines at daybreak.” You don’t need much, though – it’s reputed to be very powerful stuff. But honestly, I think I’d rather deal with the mystical-life-force cow horn buriers than with people who try to tell me that it’s all just simple physics, all the while yammering about magnetic fields and the skins of molecules. Or atoms. Whatever.

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