UK wine-sellers declare that wine has horoscopes, advise wine-drinkers to avoid certain moon-days

Credulous wine-sellers in the UK are encouraging their customers to avoid drinking wine on certain days of the month on the grounds that the lunar cycle will alter the taste of the wine. Horoscopes for wine -- now that's a whole new kind of dumb.
The idea that the taste of wine changes with the lunar calendar is gaining credibility among the UK's major retailers, who believe the day, and even hour, on which wine is drunk alters its taste. Tesco and its rival Marks & Spencer, which sell about a third of all wine drunk in Britain, now invite critics to taste their ranges only at times when the biodynamic calendar suggests they will show at their best.

Marks & Spencer has gone a step further and is advising customers to avoid disappointment from the best bottles by making sure not to open them on "root" days...

In other quarters, doubts remain. Waitrose's wine department has investigated the idea and cannot see a correlation. Many scientists have little time for biodynamic wine, pointing out that the movement's guru, Rudolf Steiner, claimed to have conceived the concept after consulting telepathically with spirits beyond the realm of the material world. Among his other works are claims that the human race is as old as the Earth and descended from creatures with jelly-like bodies, and a belief that men's passions seep into the Earth's interior, where they trigger earthquakes and volcanoes.

Tesco and supermarket rivals go for wine tasting by moonlight


  1. Hopefully this will coincide with the evenings I turn into a werewolf, and therefore don’t drink wine anyway.

  2. [..] the movement’s guru, Rudolf Steiner, claimed to have conceived the concept after consulting telepathically with spirits [..]

    I don’t doubt that he communed with spirits.

  3. Do you know what is a new kind of *really* dumb? Consulting a psychic before you invest your money.

    I stopped at a deli yesterday morning and they had some morning show on where they were talking about it, they even had this guest psychic who does that for a living.

  4. Sounds like a plot from the beer industry.

    I will note that I’ve always believed we were descended from gelatinous ancestors, though I suspect my time line differs. The invertebrate wing of the family tends towards the gooey.

  5. This calls for serious investigation. Somebody send me a few cases of Sauvignon Blanc and I’ll report back in a month. Maybe.

  6. “And with that measure, Timmy, the world cried out the idiocy of the people living in the UK. 10 years later, the idiots all died after the disease got worse and they forgot what terrorists looked like. They began attacking each other in groups, thinking they were their own terrorists. It was encouraged by the politicians, who had long been at the source of the disease, and by proxy, the media who covered them so often. The constant presence of cameras in the streets only exaggerated this paranoia, themselves installed under the influence of the disease.

    Because in that very parlament, Timmy, the world found on investigation that they had stored all of their nuclear weapons under it, and many of them leaked. The toxic gas mixed with the stale curry spice floating in the air, and mutated into the first example of human stupidity virus, HSV-1. It gradually infected the populous for years, starting with the politicians, and then the citizens. It was only the wine incident that finally made the outside world notice, as the Italians began complaining about the misuse of their products.”

    It was later revealed that Kim Jong Il had contracted the proto-form of the virus, after visting Brittain early in his youth with his father, who suffered from dementia.

  7. um ok.
    anyone who has ever made wine knows that the wine breather goes like mad when there is a full moon. (no joke)
    So actually makes sense that the wine could taste different on different days.

  8. Actually, it’s probably true, for some very, very shakey value of true.

    It’s been known and repeatedly double-blind tested for decades that people who are told that food A is special and food B is not will, all other things being equal, find food A to be significantly tastier. This is why restaurant menus use fancy french names: “vichyssoise” simply tastes better than “leek and potato soup”; and “a patty of the tenderest American beef, garnished with fresh onion, crisp lettuce, and hand-cut pickle, all between two soft, warm, new-baked buns” tastes better than “a burger”.

    So wine by moonlight on a special night *will* taste better, if you buy the hype.

    What’s simply bad marketing, though, is saying there are *bad* days.

  9. This is only possible because wine-tasting is itself, by and large, a gigantic fraud:

    In total the wine tasters had four wines to taste, although in reality there were only three different wines, with one sampled twice by each taster. I gave them a rating sheet and each person rated each of the four wines. The results could not have been better for me. There was no significant difference in the rating across the four wines; the cheap wine did just as well as the expensive ones. Even more remarkable, for a given drinker, there was more variation in the rankings they gave to the two samples drawn from the same bottle than there was between any other two samples. Not only did they like the cheap wine as much as the expensive one, they were not even internally consistent in their assessments.

    You can overlay any false pattern on an essentially stochastic process so long as you provide appropriate social legitimacy to those who practice the fraud well (i.e., speak the language game fluently, though it hardly connects to reality). It’s more about demarcating group membership than anything else.

    Why stop at astrology? Wine taste could fluctuate by the blood type of the person consuming it, the music played in the background while drinking, the colour of the walls or the relative proximity of Barbara Streisand. Get someone convincing (winning smile, nice suit) to argue for any of this nonsense and you’ll get armies of people swearing up and down that their 40$ bottle of red is the best choice given their blood type or interior decoration.

  10. Well. . . I HAVE noticed that Night Train tastes better under a full moon, when I’m sleeping under a railroad bridge with a goonie stick by my side.

  11. Dear God, some people will believe anything. They’ll be telling us the sea moves in and out because of the action of the Moon next.

    And these crazy folk who say you can’t fall off the edge of planet because it’s round. Yeah, right.

  12. For a lot of wine geeks, “root” days and “fruit” days have been part of the vernacular for years; using it as a marketing technique is the only new thing about it.

    And biodynamics, founded by Steiner, is in place in many established wineries, including the most expensive wine in the world, the Domaine de la Romanee Conti, in Burgundy.

    Steiner was in all likelihood nuts and an alleged anti-semite to boot, but many vignerons passionately believe he was on to something profound with biodynamics (which also subsumes organic growing, as well)

  13. Rudolf Steiner was actually a really awesome, pseudoscientific guy.
    You have to remember that back in 1890 spiritualism, astrology, and amazing alternative history was rather in style and he was one of the most forward thinkers of the time on the dissonance between religious notions and science. If Joseph Campbell were a product of the late 1800s, he would be Rudolf Steiner.

  14. I drank red wine almost daily for thirty years. It definitely worked better at night. As for tasting better, who cared?

  15. Perhaps the wine industry in the UK decided to take a leaf from the books of the audio industry. This take on wine tasting is no wackier than the spooky, special seekrit-ingredient cables or gold-plated fuses.

  16. Wine generally tastes better in good company, and a nice full moon only adds to the atmosphere. Although the neighbors may be using it as an excuse to act even nuttier.

  17. The “horoscope” aspect of biodynamics is one of its least-weird parts. There was a great SF Weekly article on it last year I kept intending to suggest to BB. Now I have.

  18. What anyone has failed to mention is that he doesn’t just have stupid ideas. He has ideas that formed the sort of reactionary insanity that is Fascist Germany. The Weimar republic’s descent into the insanity that is Nazism can be traced back to a lot of the notions that Steiner takes. Anti-Semitism is one of the nicer things you could label Steiner. He was a right-wing facist, corporatist racist reactionary. Just read his shit about yellow-people and the “atavistic” african races. His racist stupidity doesn’t stop at hating Jews. Fuck Steiner.

  19. They should join forces with those wackjobs who were selling the New-Age Water you guys posted about a while ago.

  20. “How is this sillier than normal astrology?”

    Err, how could -anything- be, really? But I’m sure some folks will lap it up.

  21. If not happy, I am willing to attract your derision by saying that the scientific approach to an assertion that the phases of the moon affect the quality or taste of wine is NOT to heap scorn upon the people who make the suggestion, but to investigate the claim.

    People who live with the biological rythyms of moon phases and see the effect on living things and the tides are not so quick to assume that they know better.

    As Daniel Boorstin said: the main obstacle to discovery is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

  22. @Jacobian you seem to have a very narrow and twisted view of Steiner and what he believed. He had a much more complex view of race and identity than you give him credit for and blaming him for the fall of the Weimar Republic is more than a little harsh!!
    I wasn’t aware of him being anti-semitic, so just checked Wikipedia, where, in fact, it says he published a series of articles ATTACKING anti-semitism. So either what you are saying is complete rubbish, or you ought to fix wikipedia up based on your superior knowledge.

    Personally, I think Steiner and his beliefs are very interesting and thought-provoking, despite the fact that I don’t agree with them all.

  23. “I wasn’t aware of him being anti-semitic, so just checked Wikipedia, where, in fact, it says he published a series of articles ATTACKING anti-semitism. So either what you are saying is complete rubbish, or you ought to fix wikipedia up based on your superior knowledge.”

    Wikipedia does not trump Steiner in terms of authority on the stupid ideas that Steiner holds. I suggest you read Steiner instead of accusing me of saying things which are untrue. What I’m saying isn’t complete rubbish and the outcome isn’t necessarily that I should fix the wikipedia entry. (Think perhaps who might benefit from repeatedly white washing wikipedia on this point, then look at the people who make contributions to his page).

    It’s fine to ask for proof, but it’s not ok to say that my ideas of his concept of race and identity are more nuanced than I give him credit for if you haven’t actually read his unbelievably reactionary crap.

    He didn’t cause the fall of the Weimar republic and I never said he did. However the bizarre incarnation of nationalism that was a major current in Nazi thought definitely had a lot to do with Steiner’s ideas.

    Read Steiner’s collected documents which are largely online and read this for references into those documents:

  24. Astrology for agricultural products doesn’t seem all that odd to me. I myself use palmistry to evaluate dates…

  25. jacobian- I agree with you mate.
    Any twat who believes wiki is gospel deserves to fall for the woo woo of Steiner’s gnomes and devils and be sucked into a world of knitted lentils and racial beliefs.

    Reading Steiner is indeed an education into the brain and mind of a loony, or should I say “luny” as he believed humans were once on the moon – which had, according to this great mind, a surface like boiled lettuce.

    But for sure beware… this is serious.

    His ludicrous ideas don’t just manifest themselves in biodynamic wine, but in the education of children and the care of people with learning difficulties-(camphill).

    His ideas on racial hierarchies , karma, and “child development”- (which is more about astral and etheric bodies, spirit and soul forces) than the usual definition of growth of the intellectual and emotional cpacities.

    Read his work. Don’t just listen to the followers of the lune doctor….it’s at the Rudolf Steiner Archive….enjoy.

  26. anonomous- before you add more derision to the impecably well read jacobean, I sugest you read some more about the “Very Interesting Herr Doktor Steiner”.
    If you can’t get to the Rudolf Steiner Archive, where some of his work is for all to see ( but not of course, the most unsavoury of the racila work- that is for top anthroposophists to chew the cud on so to speak)
    An eminent historian has done reasearch for you here
    Herr Doktor Steiner was a leetle beet crazee, and so, therefore, must be those who follow his leetle crazee beliefs

  27. Has anyone in this thread actually looked at a biodynamic calendar?

    Do the moon and planets & stars have a gravitational effect on the earth? Are the ideas encompassed by biodynamic agriculture (which by the way have been developed by many, many other people than Steiner, who simply came up with a basic theory as a starting point) any more crazy than pouring harmful chemicals on the earth and proclaiming that this is a good idea and “normal” agriculture?

    Are there any other philosophers who proclaimed certain ideas that we find interesting or useful and others that we find odd or abhorrent?

  28. The idea of biodynamics may have originated with Steiner, but it has become a lot more scientific. If you want to read a good layman’s introduction to some of the ideas, read some Wendell Berry.

    So many vineyards may use biodynamics, but that does not mean they believe in some sort of mystical connection between horoscopes and plants. In fact, the only thing in biodynamics that is related to lunar cycles is that biodynamics entails what is called astronomical planting cycles. But astronomical planting cycles have always been a part of farmers lives, thats how they measured the seasons. I’m not so sure that they are because of “subtle energy” from the stars and moon, but more just a historical development of planting seasons based on a lunar calendar.

    Making wine is simply chemistry. Growing grapes is simply biology, there is nothing spiritual about it. I’ve been a home brewer for years and I know there is no way the moon could affect the chemical composition of alcohol to change its flavor. Anyone making homemade wine
    will tell you the same. I have respect for the Rudolf Steiner Waldorf schools, and what some of steiner’s followers are doing today, but if you delve too deep into the rabbit hole of Rudolf Steiner it just gets weirder and weirder.

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