Author: deborahparkerwong

The New Gold Rush

The San Francisco Bay Area has long been a destination for the wine world’s movers and shakers; you can read about those I meet in my new column, Date by the Gate. This cycle, winemakers and authors made their way to the the area with tastings and book signings that were nothing less than awe-inspiring.

Biogenic amine toxicity a reality for histamine-sensitive consumers

By now, most informed wine consumers have accepted the fact that sulfur isn’t the root cause of wine-derived headaches and instead place most of the blame on alcohol. Meanwhile, what has been identified as a source of adverse reactions to no- and low-sulfur red wines, particularly by histamine-sensitive consumers, are biogenic amines. What are they and why can they be a problem?

Flavor-tripping with the miracle fruit

As a species, we’ve been eating and drinking to intentionally alter our states of perception ever since. For generations, the indigenous peoples of the Congo, Nigeria, and Ghana have used the fruit (and leaves) of Synsepalum dulcificum, a shrub indigenous to West
and Central Africa, in ethnomedicine. The taste-altering properties of this flavorless, bright-red berry—dubbed “the miracle fruit,” it’s about the size of a coffee bean—make for a fascinating sensory experience.

Learning to Perceive

While perceptual learning plays an important role in evaluating wine, there’s another phenomenon related to perception that arises from the wine itself: perceptual interaction. When our olfactory system
is confronted with complex aromas, we often perceive them as a single aroma due to odor blending in a process known as
configural perception (our perception of the smell of coffee as a single aroma is just one of many examples).

Alvarinho’s Authentic Terroir

Alvarinho produced in its native terroir is incomparable to expressions of the variety grown elsewhere. But it may ultimately prove to be on a trajectory similar to that of Pinot Gris, which is renowned for producing light, delicately floral wines in Italy’s Collio region and wines of great mineral intensity and fruit purity in Alsace. Time will tell.