Thank the Simple Wasp for that Complex Glass Of Wine

The challenge: market differentiation

The solution: create a memorable visitor experience

Give it a moment’s thought and you’ll realize that almost all website writing that comes from wineries or their hired pens focuses on:

  • varietals
  • purchasing options
  • special events

Of course there is nothing wrong with this; in fact, coverage of these topics is expected. But at the same time you have to ask how any of this helps to differentiate your winery in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The answer is: it doesn’t.

Differentiation comes from being different. One way to be different is to provide visitors (real or virtual) with the unexpected. The following article, which discusses the importance of wasps in the fermentation process, is a great example of writing about unexpected aspects of the vineyard and the extraordinary process by which grapes get into the bottle. It surprises, it engages and it educates. In the process, it becomes memorable.

Memorable is what you want your winery to be. Ask yourself what’s special about your vineyard or your industry and you’ll be on your way to creating a memorable experience that your visitors never forget. Mark my words, give them something to talk about and they’ll spread the word for you.

Read on:

Thank the Simple Wasp for that Complex Glass Of Wine

The next time you take a sip of your favorite wine, you might want to make your first toast to hornets. Or, more precisely, European hornets and paper wasps.

That’s because those big scary flying insects whose stings can be especially painful may be the secret to the wonderful complex aroma and flavor of wine. “Wasps are indeed one of wine lovers’ best friends,” says Duccio Cavalieri, a professor of microbiology at the University of Florence in Italy.

Cavalieri and his colleagues discovered that these hornets and wasps bite the grapes and help start the fermentation while grapes are still on the vines.They do that by spreading a yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae — commonly known as brewer’s yeast and responsible for wine, beer and bread fermentation — in their guts. When the wasps bite into the fruit, they leave some of that yeast behind.

Cavalieri says one of the reasons the discovery is so exciting for him is that it’s an example of just how connected the natural world is, and how humans rely on this interconnection in ways we simply cannot perceive.

“It’s important because it’s telling to me it’s crucial to look at conservation and the study of biodiversity,” says Cavalieri, one of the authors who published his findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently.

“Everything is linked,” he adds.

Of course, Cavalieri says, winemakers can add yeast later. But wines would not taste the same without wasps. Different yeasts applied at different times have a big impact flavors. The wasps also introduce other microorganisms to the grapes which add flavors to the wine.

“One of the most beautiful things of wine is the fact that basically it’s complex, it’s made of several parts and it communicates to several parts of your brain,” he says, which could be lost without the wasps and hornets.

Cavalieri comes by his interest in wine naturally. He’s from a family of winemakers in the Chianti region of Italy. He first had the inkling of hornets’ special role when he saw them piercing the skin of grapes during field research in the region 15 years ago.

Insects have long helped out with wine and other crops, we just didn’t know why. At least since the time of the ancient Romans, winemakers have planted flowers near their vines to lure certain insects.

The researchers were able to unwrap the mystery of the insects’ role by using DNA sequencing techniques to analyze the genes of the yeast, then tracing them to the guts of wasps. They even did a lab experiment to see if hornets could pass the yeast to their offspring, and they did.

Other insects and birds also carry the yeast, Cavalieri says.But hornets seem to play a special role because they both harbor the yeast over winters and can pass them along to their offspring.

You can imagine a vineyard might be interested in pest control — but perhaps they should be careful about which bugs they consider pests.

Evolutionary biologist Anne Pringle of Harvard, who was not involved in the study, says the findings have two strong messages — great wines need bugs and people still know almost nothing about ecology.

“If you’d like to have your grapes fermented by local yeasts, which I think many vineyards do, then you have to have these insects around,” Pringle says.

via Thank The Simple Wasp For That Complex Glass Of Wine : The Salt : NPR.

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: