Connect with us

Food Tech

Ancient art of winemaking embraces science

South Africa remains at the forefront of winemaking science and art, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

It is one of the oldest crafts known to humanity, yet winemaking keeps surprising the world with new techniques in both its creation and its marketing.

South Africa remains at the forefront of both. Earlier this year, the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild worked with composers, neuroscientists and winemaking proteges to create a piece of music called Tasting Notes, which was scientifically and creatively designed to interact with the brain to enhance the tasting notes of a Cabernet Sauvignon wine.

The thinking behind it was that, with the wine industry severely damaged by Covid-19 lockdowns, it was time to change the experience of drinking wine. Tasting Notes drew heavily on wine’s “organoleptic” properties – aspects that create an individual experience via the senses.

“We all know wine pairs with food, but could we tap into our collective love of music and create a literal wine-and-music pairing to achieve our goal of opening up wine to new audiences?” Nedbank group executive for marketing and corporate affairs Khensani Nobanda asked at the time. “‘Music is a universal language and the right wine can make any experience more pleasurable.”

This week, Guild member Andrea Mullineux, a winemaker at Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, put the initiative into a historic perspective.

“Wine has been around for 5000 years, yet we continue to work towards understanding its complexity and nuances,” she told Business Times. “This is best done on a global scale of developing expertise and sharing knowledge. South Africa has led the way in many aspects, yet we can grow our wine-world understanding by incorporating research from around the globe to truly bring our wine understanding to the next level.”

She describes the wine as a “cultural elixir, meant to be appreciated for its combination of science and art, and enhanced when shared” – both in sharing a glass or bottle and when sharing knowledge.

In South Africa, science has come a long way, says Mullineux.

“Technology has evolved the wine industry in ways we cannot imagine, and the progress in what we know and how we use it will perpetually alter our understanding and how we use it. Even if wine is being made in the most traditional sense, what we have learned about the microbiology and chemistry of winemaking in recent years can be appreciated on a multitude of levels.”

The astonishing aspect of this multi-millennial evolution is how much is still unknown. And uncovering new secrets remains not only a goal but also a necessity, she says.

“When one has a better understanding of vineyard health, soil science, grape varieties, climate change, microbiology or wine sensorial sciences, and can apply that knowledge or new technology into creating a better product or better experience, the consumer will feel more connected with the sense of place that is meant to be expressed in wine.”

Tasting Notes, she believes, play a key role in this innovation.

“Tasting Notes takes an artistic yet scientific approach to wine appreciation through a wine sensorial experience. The vinous journey is enhanced through an innovative and futuristic approach that was recorded and reinterpreted while using the next generation of South African winemakers to generate the essential data, taking an age-old product and new technology, while using the future of the wine industry to launch it forward.”

Clearly, there is more to come. From Mullineux’s perspective, the potential is infinite.

“There is an unlimited amount to learn about wine, how it grows and what makes it great. There are still key elements of Terroir – the sense of place in a wine – which is still a mystery. In the winery we see new concepts being presented every year. Some are brand new and some are reinventions that have been tweaked.

“We are only on the cusp of creating new ways to communicate wine’s organoleptic experiences.”
* Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter  @art2gee

Subscribe to our free newsletter
Continue Reading
You may also like...
To Top