Drinking With Steiner: Tesco, M&S and Biodynamic Boozing

Today’s Guardian is carrying a story about biodynamic wine drinking on page 7.

The idea that the taste of wine changes with the lunar calendar is gaining credibility among the UK’s major retailers, who believe the day, and even hour, on which wine is drunk alters its taste.

Ben Goldacre is on page 11. But perhaps this is beyond his remit, since wine tasting is surely subjective? Not when the Guardian’s report tries to give it a scientify veneer:

Jo Ahearne, winemaker for Marks & Spencer, became convinced of the theory when she sampled more than 140 wines over two days. “Before the tasting, I was really unconvinced, but the difference between the days was so obvious I was completely blown away.”

So, 140 wines?  Assuming this wasn’t just a really colossal bender, and therefore her judgement was not impaired, that’s a reasonable sample.  But two days?  The Guardian decided further testing was needed:

The Guardian tested the theory this week and tasted the same wines on Tuesday evening, a leaf day, then again on Thursday evening, a fruit day. Five out of seven bottles showed a marked improvement.

It must be true then.  The Guardian does note that Steiner:

claimed to have conceived the concept after consulting telepathically with spirits beyond the realm of the material world. Among his other works are claims that the human race is as old as the Earth and descended from creatures with jelly-like bodies, and a belief that men’s passions seep into the Earth’s interior, where they trigger earthquakes and volcanoes.

But that’s not what makes it nonsense.  If Einstein had claimed to conceive of special relativity because he’d consulted with spirits, it wouldn’t have invalidated the theory. Newton was a religious nut.  It’s just not a good week for science and technology writing in the Guardian (on page 8 Matthew Weaver explains how electronic cigarettes work: they have “a clever-sounding atomiser inside”).

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more…

6 thoughts on “Drinking With Steiner: Tesco, M&S and Biodynamic Boozing

  1. Wow.

    I read an in-depth piece of research on Biodynamic wine some time ago in… maybe Skeptic or Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

    It’s quite stunning what people will believe. Filling cow horns with small quantities of ineffective compounds and burying them in the ground and such. Makes homeopathy look like science.

  2. Wow.

    I read an in-depth piece of research on Biodynamic wine some time ago in… maybe Skeptic or Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

    It’s quite stunning what people will believe. Filling cow horns with small quantities of ineffective compounds and burying them in the ground and such. Makes homeopathy look like science.

  3. Perhaps the real story is… Mm, Wine: Some Days It Tastes Nice, If You’re In The Mood.

    Going to see Ben Goldacre at Bom-Banes on 13th May, are you interested?

  4. Perhaps the real story is… Mm, Wine: Some Days It Tastes Nice, If You’re In The Mood.

    Going to see Ben Goldacre at Bom-Banes on 13th May, are you interested?

  5. Or rather: after testing 7 bottles, 5 tasted more nicer on some days that the others.

    You’ve got to have the scientific rigour, see?

    (Have emailed you about BG)

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