Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Biodynamics is Out, Phrenology is Wine's New Trendy Pseudoscience!

HoseMaster of Wine's™ Cabinet of Curiosities

Biodynamics is so 2000’s. It’s just not interesting anymore. I’m as big a fan of pseudoscience as anyone, even POTUS (Prevaricator of the United States). I find it yugely encouraging that wine has finally embraced the pseudosciences vigorously. I’m the guy who only drinks wines on a fruit day. Wine on a leaf day? Gack! How stupid is that? Leaf days are for drinking Bud, obviously. I live my life by the pseudosciences. Like I drove my old Ford in reverse downhill the other day because my wife told me Mercury was in retrograde. I even believe in the tongue map, though I almost choke every time I try to re-fold it. There’s comfort in believing things just because you need to despite convincing evidence to the contrary. Like aerators work, and wines taste better in expensive Riedel stemware, and “Sideways” was a good movie, and the wine business treats women equally. Science is about the quest for truth. Screw that. When you think about it, the internet is the most powerful force on the planet right now, and the internet is the death of truth. Which side do you want to be on? Science is for losers.

OK, sorry, all that preaching just to introduce the newest thing in the wine business that I, personally, am really excited about. Phrenology!

Rudolf Steiner? Aren’t we just a little sick of that wacky Austrian? Steiner didn’t even drink wine; though, when you think about it, that’s probably smart when your national variety is Grüner Veltliner. I’d rather stuff cowshit in horns, too. Steiner is out, my friends, and Franz Joseph Gall is in. Gall originated phrenology, so among people who make shit up, he has few peers. Phrenology was the 100 Point Scale of its day. Yet another triumph of subjectivity over objectivity. It seems right, so it must be right. Only recently have wine experts realized that you can’t even spell “phrenology” without “enology.” Oh, maybe those were spelling experts. Either way, I can’t think of more conclusive proof that it works.

After becoming certified biodynamic by the Demeter Association, vintner Gio Desic determined that, frankly, his wines weren’t that good. He had a fantastic vineyard in the best part of Fruili, so he knew it wasn’t the climate. He spared no expense on the finest barrels, even bringing in an albino to burn sage in every new barrel in order to rid the barrel of evil spirits, like bourbon, and provide much needed jobs for albinos. And then it hit him. His winemaker, Alberto V. Ofive, had a very unattractive and misshapen skull. Desic knew that the shape of a human’s head, in the hands of a trained phrenologist, reveals nearly everything about the person’s personality, her strengths and weaknesses, not to mention the shape of mom’s birth canal. Gio’s father had been a gondolier in a famous birth canal, so he was familiar with the concept.

Desic decided to hire world-renowned phrenologist Sarah Bellum to take the measure of Alberto V. Ofive’s skull. “Just as grapes need to show phenolic ripeness,” Bellum told Gio Desic, “so do humans need to show phrenolic ripeness.” It made inarguable sense.

Sarah Bellum spent hours taking measurements of Alberto V. Ofive’s head. Placing her calipers carefully and meticulously around the winemaker’s skull, she took notes on the various “Organs” on his skull, the bumps and depressions giving her insight into his suitability as a winemaker for biodynamic wines. A picture began to emerge.

“His Organ of Sustainability isn’t prominent enough,” she told Gio Desic. “And there’s a very large protrusion on his Organ of Davis, which indicates he’s read too many winemaking textbooks. There’s a significant bump on his Organ of Self-Esteem, but that’s very common in winemakers. And I was impressed with his engorged Organ of Chapoutier, but that’s another story.”

Gio Desic, after Sarah Bellum’s assessment, was forced to fire Alberto V. Ofive. As Bellum predicted when she gave the big thumbs up to his next hire, Angelina Joly, daughter of the famous proprietor of Coulée de Serrant and Jon Voight (long story), the wines at Gio Desic’s estate now garner scores in the high 90’s from every major wine critic, as well as Jeb Dunnuck.

Sarah Bellum is the first phrenologist to make her mark in the wine world, but she won’t be the last. Already, wine writers like Alice Feiring are praising her work. “Great wines are as much about the winemaker as they are about the climate and soil,” Feiring has said. “Genuine natural wines are made by winemakers with the right bumps on the right Organs of the Skull. Close inspection of winemaker’s Organs is critical to appreciating wine." I think anyone with any common sense would agree with that.


Pam Strayer said...

Not to throw water on your parade, but have you ever even read the biodynamic farm standard? There's not a single mention of Steiner. It's an organic, regenerative agriculture standard, you twit! If we're not going to die today from industrial ag, what options do we have? For the sake of our survival, if we have a chance, we need to change how we farm and how we grow wine grapes. Don't just feed the industrial vit machine by writing this twaddle.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I love it when you're angry, Pam. All I ever write is twaddle, by the way.

No mention of Steiner, I actually do know that. And yet you must admit it's filled with pseudoscience, you being the scientist and all.

I have a hunch I'm not aiding industrial viticulture much, but I'm flattered you think a lowly satirist has any influence at all. I'm all for organic agriculture, and against greenwashing. Not much for pseudoscience.

Phil Hicks said...

Wow, Ms. Strayer couldn’t make (or take) a joke if she knew one! I guess organic isn’t enough for you and you need to embrace voodoo, pseudoscience. You probably never will understand much less, appreciate the HoseMaster.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Don't misread my snark. I love Pam, she's honestly one of the best people in the biz, a watchdog over wineries and their use of pesticides and herbicides. Her blog is absolutely reliable and honest. I have huge respect for her integrity and work. And she has been a great supporter of HoseMaster. Don't go by this comment. She's a stickler for accuracy, which is what we need her for. I'm always thrilled to hear from her.

achalk said...

Pam: That's a cheery thought. But now, what kind of manure do we fill our cow horns with?

WV.AVAs said...

I have absolutely No idea why this idea came to me after reading this, but I now want to have a t-shirt made that says "Ron Washam is my spirit animal" and wear it at IPNC this year.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Wear a bulletproof vest underneath. Isn't IPNC an incontinence disease?

Marcia Macomber said...

I've had this page open for a week w/o time to read it. An excellent way to launch the weekend. Now I must go find all that head-measuring equipment. It will surely prove my head and its Organs are much too small for this work. LOL Thanks, Ron!

Paul Wagner said...

Wait! Biodynamics without Steiner? Isn't that like the Book of Mormon without Moroni(c)? What next? Is ural marriage dead?

Paul Wagner said...

Ahem. Plural marriage...but ural marriage is good, too.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Marcia Love,
Either you're really busy, or a very slow reader... Phrenology won't help the reading part, though having someone read the bumps on your head for personality traits has some appeal to me. Skull Braille. I like it.

We call it polyamory now. Marriage is always plural. Polyamory is when you have sex with multiple parrots.

Pam Strayer said...

Phil Hicks - I actually am a writer who's been paid to write comedy - ha ha! To much acclaim, and high pay, I might add. But I would never want to mess with anyone's stereotypes! They're so handy!

And Ron - I am humbled by the support! Wow! I never knew! THANK YOU.

As for pseudoscience - don't be misled by the media's fake news on Biodynamics. Really. Science is showing that these herbal and mineral spray activate microbial life. Much of Biodynamic viticulture predates Steiner, as you can see if you read some of the early 1800's viticulture texts in French. But modern studies are also confirming some of these results.

Look at where we were with Chinese medicine 50 years ago - people thought acupuncture was pseudoscience. Today it is a $26 billion industry (https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/08/09/1549445/0/en/Acupuncture-Market-USD-24551-6-Mn-Revenue-Poised-to-Exceed-by-2023-Market-Research-Future.html)

More than 25 major natural food brands have launched biodynamic products, which are growing exponentially in the marketplace. Whole Foods is giving the biodynamic food movement a great deal of support, as consumers increasingly become dismayed with the weakening of organic standards.

Even bigger food brands will be debuting biodynamic food products very soon.

Biodynamic is the next evolution of organic, in the consumers' eye and is laudable for marrying organic materials standards to regenerative ag practices. Be careful what you dismiss - regenerative ag standards are not pseudoscience. They're quite real. And just because some sensationalistic writers have a field day writing insane weird stuff about BD (and wine pubs don't tend to actually fact check), one should look at the actual farm standard.

Demeter will not be lobbied by Monsanto. While the poor FDA is under constant attack on organic standards, and corrupt EPA caves to most of Monsanto's pressure, I have faith that biodynamic standards (which are currently the highest) will remain immune from Big Ag bullies and that consumers are embracingan organic and regenerative standard that isn't controlled by the wine industry (unlike sustainability standards) - i.e. biodynamics.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

There you go bringing facts, sorta facts, and science to my stupid wine blog.

What I like are the folks who say they follow BD principles, but aren't Demeter certified. We're just supposed to believe them.

So you know, I'm rarely careful about what I dismiss. It's the joy of being a satirist. I just try to reflect the zeitgeist. And I don't even know what zeitgeist means.

No need to be humbled by my support, Pam. What you do is important. What I do is deeply meaningless.

Pam Strayer said...

I enjoy what you do! You have incredible talent. I only wish you were writing scripts for a new Netflix series of the Hosemaster 1, 2 and 3, which would offset the unintended comedic value of Somm 1, 2 and 3. Say it's so!

David Larsen said...

Yes Pam, we need to keep the pressure on Ron to share his hosemaster posts in the right forum, e.g. Nextflix!