The grapes of research
Maxine Myre | March 17, 2014
Following ‘The invention of a wine’ post on this site in October 2012, I caught up with researchers at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute to see what’s new in the world of appassimento wines.
Debbie Inglis, director and researcher at CCOVI, provided me with a quick crash-course in oenology, the study of wines.
“In wine production, there are different techniques that one can use to bring out the best of the grape,” said Inglis. “The technique that we’re focusing on is the appassimento wine production [to create] wines with an Ontario signature.”
The appassimento-style is used to further ripen the grapes off-vine, useful in overcoming increasingly erratic weather that affects the sustainability and growth opportunity for local wineries. Drying the grapes in a protected and controlled environment serves the dual purpose of minimizing fruit waste and providing an opportunity to develop a distinct wine style for Ontario.
The five-year project is currently in its fourth year. To date, the group has compared five drying techniques – in a barn, refurbished tobacco kilns, local greenhouses, drying chambers, and prolonged time on the vine – to assess the biochemical and microbial changes occurring in the grapes, as well as sensory profiles of the wines. They’ve found that each technique varies in grape drying time and flavor attributes.
The next steps will be determined in collaboration with industry partners. Their plan is to manipulate variables within each drying technique to optimize the overall production process. Overall, the research done to understand these wines, along with cost-analyses of the techniques, will bring appassimento wines into higher quality brackets that can be sold at a higher dollar value.
All present studies are being conducted with Cabernet franc grapes, the main red grape variety grown in the Niagara region. “We’ve also got interest from our partners in looking at one or two more grape varieties, potentially looking at Merlot as another grape variety to dry, and maybe even branching off into a white,” added Inglis.
The project will provide baseline data for the industry, as well as build interest in the appassimento technique.
Inglis points out that while there are many basic and fundamental questions being asked, their results are directly applicable in industry. “It’s just been a great project to show how much we can achieve when industry, government and academia come together on a focused area to assist industry in their growth potential,” says Inglis.
From manuscript to search ...
Guest blog by Chris Nighman | October 23, 2014Long before the advent of the Internet, and well before Gutenberg invented moveable type, medieval intellectuals devised information technologies to take advantage of a growing mass of Big Data repositories known as “manuscripts.” read more »
If you’re happy ...
Cathy Majtenyi | October 22, 2014Brock University recently launched a series of monthly podcasts covering a wide range of themes. As part of our own package of “Belief” related blog posts, Research Matters is pleased to present this exclusive interview with Brock Associate Professor of Psychology, Michael Busseri. Busseri will join two other colleagues to explore this topic in Brock’s January 2015 podcast, “What gives us a sense of wellbeing?” read more »
Lucid dreaming depends on ...
Trent University Staff | October 21, 2014New research by Trent University Oshawa Anthropology professor Roger Lohmann and graduate student Shayne Dahl indicates that cultural learning shapes the kind of awareness and control people can experience while dreaming. “Scouring the ethnographic record on dreaming for hints of lucidity under Professor Lohmann’s guidance, I found something surprising: that lucid dreaming is widely thought to have serious consequences,” said Dahl, who completed his M.A. thesis, “Knowing Means Connecting with the Source of Life: Knowledge and Ethics among Blackfoot Traditionalists” at Trent in 2012. (He is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto.) “As one of my Blackfoot informants put it, ‘You could die in your dream.’” Lohmann and Dahl’s findings were published in the 2014 collection, Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep. Lucid dreaming – waking consciousness arising during a dream – has been a hot topic of scientific research in recent years. According to Lohmann and Dahl, the common assumption that dreams are products of isolated imaginations has distorted our understanding of lucidity’s variation in form, function, and real-world outcomes. Pop culture portrayals in films such as Avatar and Inception present fantasies where lucid dreaming enables marvelous real-world powers. Many traditional and religious cultural worldviews take the relationship between waking and dream worlds as reality rather than fantasy. Lohmann’s fieldwork in Papua New Guinea among the Asabano people explored how they used dreaming as evidence for and contact with supernatural beings. “Asabano converts often told me that seeing dreams of Jesus or Heaven convinced them that what the missionary told them was true,” said Lohmann. “It struck me that they had to believe their dreams were more than figments of their own imaginations to reach that conclusion, and that I, for example, would not be convinced by the same experience because of my different cultural background.” Similarly, Dahl’s fieldwork in Alberta included encounters with Aboriginal medicine men who practiced lucid dreaming. “Shayne’s field experiences and his search of ethnographic literature brought home to us that lucid dreaming has profound potential for people who think it’s more than just a fantasy. We found that descriptions of lucid dreams are radically different in form, function, and outcome depending on the cultural assumptions of the dreamer,” said Lohmann. Their research revealed evidence that in some cultures, lucid dreaming is unknown, while in others it is a commonly taught skill. In some, lucidity is tacit rather than acknowledged, but people nevertheless believe that they actively undertake goals in their dreams. Lohmann and Dahl found that this implicitly lucid “volitional dreaming” commonly appears in ethnographic accounts of dreaming. In cultures where “generative” theory holds sway, dreaming of something is understood to cause it to happen in the waking world. This leads people to experience lucid dreams as opportunities to create or do magic. By contrast, people who believe dreams are what one sees during “soul travel” use lucid dreams as an opportunity to spiritually visit real places. “Even when we consciously disbelieve our dreams,” Dahl said, “They still affect us at a deeper, emotional level that we can’t easily control with reason.” “All of this shows that cultural dream theories are multiple, that people invoke them in complex ways, and that they are at the very core of what lucid dreaming is and what it makes possible,” said Lohmann. This story was originally published by Trent University on, July 15, 2014. Is has been edited for style, brevity and clarity and appears here with permission.
In money we trust
U of T Staff (With introduction by Patchen Barss) | October 20, 2014A few years ago, late, late at night, I was tooling around the streets of Ottawa in the back seat of a Jeep being driven by former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge. American economist and Nobel Laureate George Akerlof was riding shotgun. read more »