SFSL Podcast Roundup: Frozen Heads and Fine Wine

I don't know about where you are, but things have been pretty sweltering here in Atlanta. It's been so hot, in fact, that we decided to chill things off a bit with this week's podcast topics. First, how about a little cold, cold wine? And don't worry -- we're not going to hit you with the typical wine-making science. That stuff's all fascinating in its own right, but we decided to approach the topic from jazzier directions. In this podcast, you'll learn what to expect at a neuroscientist's wine tasting, what varieties of super wines come from Chinese laboratories and we'll even discuss a couple of wine-related mysteries that only science can solve.

Science and Wine

Is the sense of taste subjective? Why are some wines bad news for people with particular allergies? If you're anxious for the answers, never fear: In this episode, Allison and Robert take a look at science and wine.

American Wine from American Grapes?

Perhaps one of history's most experimental gardeners, Thomas Jefferson documented his cultivation failures as often as his successes. In the summer of 1809, his squash "came to nothing," as did his Old World grapes, the famous wine fruit, Vitis vinifera. The squash may have just been unlucky -- Jefferson had plenty of success with his favorite vegetable, peas, or with imported plants from Italy or Mexico. But with the vines at least, he may have just needed to think more creatively.

What is the coldest place in the universe to drink wine?

I recently received an invite from some friends for an evening of grilled clams and "cold, cold wine." As the chef in question is marvelous, I'm sure the grilled clams will follow suit. But the mention of wine got me thinking. How cold is "cold, cold," and how chill can a glass of sauvignon blanc get? Lets travel around the globe and into space for some answers.

Boxed wine may seem synonymous with poor, imbibing college students and more specifically, the low-end brand Franzia. Until recently, that's a pretty on-base assumption. According to Forbes, Franzia has led case sales of wine for 14 years and monopolized the "don't mind if it's cheap; don't care if it's in a bottle" market. Apparently, though, there's room for change. As consumers with slightly more refined tastes become less concerned about packaging elegance and more interested in packaging efficiency, they're buying up new crate wines. Several small companies (including respected Italian labels) have begun packaging their products in boxes instead of bottles. While their superior quality chips away a bit at boxed wine's somewhat dodgy reputation, their lighter packaging and square size reduces transportation emissions by as much as four times. The only major challenge facing boxed wine (besides that cheapo stigma), is that plastic bags and cardboard aren't suitable packaging for wines that require long aging periods.