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Jul 29, 2013 06:36 AM

"Minerality": Drilling Down on Wine's Buzzword

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  1. I kinda use mineral and chalky interchangeably.

    1. That is such a loser article.

      Teague misses the two major points. First, she doesn't describe the flavors of minerality: chalk, baking soda, flint, slate, stone, wet stone.

      Second, she totally misses that minerality in wine doesn't come from the soil or terroir.

      You'd think Teague would have time to do a little credible research before writing a story rather than writing all this BS about "energetic buzz" and that it is usually found in wines that have high acidity.

      The article below is from the New York Times, but several other wine soil scientists and wine DNA experts have commented on this phenomenon:

      "“Plants don’t really interact with rocks,” explains Mark Matthews, a plant physiologist at the University of California, Davis who studies vines. “They interact with the soil, which is a mixture of broken-down rock and organic matter. And plant roots are selective. They don’t absorb whatever’s there in the soil and send it to the fruit. If they did, fruits would taste like dirt.” He continues, “Any minerals from the solid rock that vine roots do absorb — sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, a handful of others — have to be dissolved first in the soil moisture. Most of them are essential nutrients, and they mainly affect how well the plant as a whole grows.”

      "Most of the earthy and mineral aromas and flavors that we detect in wine actually come from the interaction of the grape and yeast. Yeasts metabolize the grape sugars into alcohol, along the way freeing up and spinning off the dozens of aromatic chemicals that make wine more than just alcoholic grape juice. It’s because of the yeasts that we can catch whiffs of tropical fruits, grilled meats, toasted bread and other things that have never been anywhere near the grapes or the wine. The list of evocative yeast products includes an organic sulfur molecule that can give sauvignon blancs a “flinty” aroma. And there are minor yeasts that create molecules called volatile phenols, whose earthy, smoky flavors have nothing to do with the soil but are suggestive of it, especially in wines from the southern Rhone. "

      Continue reading this article called "Talk Dirt to Me" at:

      7 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        I thought you'd "enjoy" that one, ML1 ;^)

        1. re: maria lorraine

          Okay Maria Lorraine, here is a query for you (whose entries I value greatly on the SF Bay board): I note your reference to flavors of minerality, including "chalk, baking soda, flint, slate, stone, wet stone". I have often wondered about such descriptors applied to taste. I can see them as aromas, but who has tasted flint? or slate? or wet stone? I could add graphite and gunpowder which I have seen used frequently in wine writing. Have you actually tasted these substances? I ask this purely as a fact-finding question with so criticism intended whatsoever. Your response would be very meaningful to me. Others are encouraged to reply as well, of course.

          1. re: alfairfax

            Yes, for me, too, some or most of these things are apprehended by smell. But for others, smell and taste.
            Have you ever drunk a bit of baking soda dissolved in warm water to settle a stomach? The taste is certainly mineral.
            How about a mineral supplement (vitamin)? Metallic.
            Ever taste the iron in your blood when (for some reason) you have blood in your mouth?
            Ever sucked on a (clean) pebble (in boy/girl scouts days) to increase saliva when thirsty?
            Ever lay on a warm river stone after swimming, and the wet of your body caused steam to come off the stone? Ever put your nose close to the steaming rock?
            Remember the smell when you spray the dusty concrete driveway or patio with the garden hose?
            Ever tasted the sparkling water Gerolsteiner? That's the taste, purely undiluted, without wine to mask it.
            Ever get a flint wet?
            Ever smell knife sharpening stones, especially after you get them wet?
            Ever taste the metal in food cooked in a cast iron pan?
            That's my general sense. Things like this.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              Forgot about graphite. Ever put the tip of a pencil in your mouth, to wet it for writing? That taste/smell shows up in wine often.

              Ever smell pencil shavings? Graphite is very close to that, obviously.

              Ever eat an fresh oyster? or get a tiny piece of shell in your mouth accidentally? Minerally.

                1. re: Chinon00

                  I mentioned Gerolsteiner, prolly the best example.

            2. re: alfairfax

              The short answer is yes, I have tasted a number of these things. And in all probability, EVERY child has tasted a wet stone or two (or three or four)...let alone ML's examples.