Saturday, March 05, 2005

High Alcohol Wines Turn to Vinegar
On Thursday a thread appeared on the Mark Squires Wine Bulletin Board under the title Worrying research on oxidation ? The initial post contains material from a “science research site” which describes "A recent study by the research arm of l’Union de Maisons de Bordeaux headed by Dr. Jean-Pierre Varoni, as yet unpublished, appears to have established that high alcohol wines may be at risk of rapidly turning sour in the latter stages of cellar development. The study, prompted in part by the tendency toward higher alcohol levels in New World red wines, concluded that the results were, 'alarming,' and calls into question the suitability of this wine style for medium- or long- term cellaring. "

Unfortunately no link was provided to the “science research site” and the thread originator has not (at this time) returned to provide any additional information. But this is a sufficiently interesting topic to follow up so……..

A little checking reveals that the l’Union de Maisons de Bordeaux site is here. Their Partners, presumably including their "research arm", are here. The study could come from the Oenology Dept of Universit√© Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2. But my French is not good enough to figure out if the work comes from there or if Dr. Jean-Pierre Varoni is a member of the Faculty.

OK, so let’s look in the research literature databases to see where Dr Varoni does publish as this will help locate him. So far I have searched PubMed which is excellent for biomedical literature searches, but its fairly limited when it comes to non-medical related vinous topics, as the original post seems to be. There are other databases that can be searched via Ovid Tech. The most relevant databases are probably Agricola (Index to materials acquired by the National Agricultural Library and cooperating institutions.) and Biological Abstracts (Indexes life science research reported in nearly 5,500 journals. Coverage is international and includes biological and medical research findings, clinical studies, discoveries of new organisms, biotechnology, pharmacology and botany.)

J-P Varoni does not appear in any of these databases. So either Varoni has yet to publish, publishes only in obscure French journals that are not indexed in major library data bases, or the wrong name was given. Googling Varoni’s name or phrases from the text of the original post does not pull up anything.

Is this whole thing a hoax…….?

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