There are a lot of different things that can affect how a wine tastes, but would you believe that the phases of the moon and the stars can affect it as well? I don't, and neither should you — as ridiculous as "mainstream" astrology may be, it's got nothing on the ridiculousness that can be found in the field of "biodynamics" — especially as it relates to wine.
Some people think that wine grapes grow better and produce better wine when they are grown biodynamically. I thought that was a low point until I read about how some UK retailers are now trying to serve wine according to biodynamic principles — specifically, only serving wines for taste tests during certain evenings when the wine is supposed to taste better.
Tesco and its rival Marks & Spencer, which sell about a third of all wine drunk in Britain, now invite critics to taste their ranges only at times when the biodynamic calendar suggests they will show at their best.
Marks & Spencer has gone a step further and is advising customers to avoid disappointment from the best bottles by making sure not to open them on "root" days.
The calendar has been published for the last 47 years by a gardening great-grandmother called Maria Thun, who lives in rural Germany. She categorises days as "fruit", "flower", "leaf" or "root", according to the moon and stars. Fruit and flower are normally best for tasting, and leaf and root worst. ...
Those who believe in the theory admit it has overtones of "druids dancing in the moonlight" but believe the effect can be explained by considering the wine in a bottle as a living organism which responds to the rhythms of the moon in a similar way to human biology.
In some places and to some people, biodynamic farming seems to be little more than organic farming, but people who use "biodynamic" as a synonym for "organic" not only don't really know what they are talking about, but they are actively contributing to misinformation about the nature of biodynamic farming. The fact is, this process has more to do with astrology and superstition than it does with being environmentally friendly.
The concept of biodynamic farming was created by an Austrian philosopher-scientist by the name of Rudolf Steiner. In 1924, Steiner decided that crops needed to be sown, pruned, and harvested according to particular cosmic rhythms — and quite a few other nutty things:
Many scientists have little time for biodynamic wine, pointing out that the movement's guru, Rudolf 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.
Just in case it hasn't been made clear so far, I think biodynamic farming is complete and utter nonsense. It's as valid as traditional astrology, which isn't the least bit valid at all. You can no more decide when it's best to plant crops or drink wine based on the position of the stars than you can tell whom to marry or when to seek a different job.
Insofar as those involved with "biodynamic" wine production are simply involved with organic, sustainable farming, they are probably doing good things. Once the practices moves beyond this and into practices like burying cow manure in a cow horn or fermenting oak bark in the skull of a domestic animal, as if any of this made any sort of difference, they have descended into little more than irrational superstition. I'd rather get my wine from people whose feet are firmly set in the real world, thank you very much.