October 21, 2008

Struck By The Light

posted by mark in Snooth, Wine

Way back in June, we talked about running a little experiment. The details are here. The basic idea was to test how light and heat effected wine.

We used the 2006 Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc for the test. The control wine stayed in my wine fridge. The heat struck wine sat in a closed space outside, exposed to heat but not light. The light struck wine was exposed to UV beams from a few small lamps we purchased. I measured the UV output, which was roughly equivalent to what you might experience from the sun on an average day. (Before you cry foul, the UV lamps had this effect directly next to the lamps, and the sun is 1 AU away.)

How did it go? Here are my tasting notes for each wine. We blind tasted them so we wouldn’t be swayed by knowing which was which to start with.

Wine A) Flat and watered down. Flabby with no flavors. Fruit is completely washed. Heat damaged.
Wine B) Metallic with slightly more fruit than Wine A but basically still tastes watery. Light damaged.
Wine C) A little more spice / less washed out than the others. Control.

My guesses? Wrong. The real answers were:

Wine A) Heat.
Wine B) Control.
Wine C) Light.

Blind tasting is never easy, so I’m not sure how accurate this was going to be. To be honest, I think light damage is not nearly as bad. The wine was definitely drinkable, and still had some degree of acidity. On the other hand, I found the heat damage absolutely killed the wine. There was no fruit left.

I think we all already knew not to expose our wines to excessive heat or light. But now I do know better what to look for if I do come across an afflicted bottle.

by oceank8 · October 23, 2008 at 9:58 am

Very interesting, glad to finally here the results of this one.

by Dan · October 21, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Mark, that is so awesome you did this. Thank you very much. Wish I was on hand to taste the wines with you guys. May have to try this one at home.

by mark · October 22, 2008 at 9:29 am

No problem! It was a fun experiment. I’d like to try some other experiments like this in the future.

by philip · October 22, 2008 at 2:20 pm

What Mark was too polite to point out was that we had a few people taste the wines. Between us we had over 4 decades of wine experience and had probably tasted over 50,000 wines between us. Yet, out of the 6 of us that took part, only one of us got the answer totally right (well done Rodolphe!)

We thought about a repeat test with yet more light, to see if that would continue to affect the wine to a greater degree…

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