This episode opens by linking Oppenheimer, Covid-19 and wine – and proceeds to go big by focusing on the small stuff.

Microbes. The invisible world of yeasts, bacteria and beyond.

We’re just starting to understand how important microbes are in terms of defining wine style and quality.

Sure, yeasts ferment grape sugars into alcohol. But they also do a whole lot more, as fascinating new research is revealing.

Previously, many definitions of ‘terroir’ (what might be defined as a wine’s ‘sense of place’ or perhaps ‘distinctiveness’) were limited to the role of soil and climate. If you were lucky, human influence garnered a passing mention.

Now it’s becoming clear that biology – and in particular microbiology – has more of a say in how a wine turns out than what was previously thought. Time for the textbooks to be re-written…

In this episode, we talk to world-leading researchers Professor Matthew Goddard and Ignacio Belda, to get to the heart of the latest thinking and science.

Turns out there is such a thing as, ‘the microbial face of terroir’ – even single vineyards have unique microbial signatures, and there’s a proven percentage we can put to how much a wine’s chemistry is influenced by that microbiome from the vineyard to the fermentation and beyond.

In short, wine is the product of invisible bugs as much as it is the product of human hand or climatic and geographical phenomena.

The implications are profound.

Not just regarding how we define terroir. But also in terms of how winegrowers should farm to protect their unique vineyard microbiomes, how winemakers should best manage their fermentations, even how we wine drinkers should appreciate our wines (while protecting our own human microbiomes – the two can work together!)

There’s even talk of synthetic yeast being developed that can not only craft specific flavours in wine but also inform a winemaker when a fermentation needs to be checked…

This is a fascinating field of research, one currently reaching fever pitch right now, so we report on and discuss the latest findings, which will be sure to make you think about wine in a new light.



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