As previously posted, Pope Francis plans to chew coca leaves and already drank tea infused with coca, the raw ingredient in cocaine, during his visit to Bolivia. Psychedelic historian Michael Horowitz points out that Francis is following in the footsteps of Pope Leo XII who appeared in an advertisement for the coca-infused French wine Vin Mariani, popular in the late 19th century. Read the rest
A Chinese woman reportedly suffered a snake bite when the reptile jumped from her wine bottle and struck her hand. Apparently, the woman from Shuangcheng, Heilongjiang Province had been drinking pickled snake wine to treat her rheumatism, but this particular snake was still living. Snake wine is a common curative in traditional Chinese medicine. (Global Times)
We all know that you can drop red food dye in white wine and get a critic to call it plummy and tannic. But the same holds true for classical music and other snob-infested culture zones. Alex Mayyasi at Priceonomics:
Expert judges and amateurs alike claim to judge classical musicians based on sound. But Tsay’s research suggests that the original judges, despite their experience and expertise, judged the competition (which they heard and watched live) based on visual information just as amateurs do. ... The key to understanding the aforementioned wine research - without concluding that the entire wine industry is a massive conspiracy powered by snobbery to sell identical fermented grape juice - is that just like with classical music, we do not appraise wine in the way that we expect.
If it comes in a bottle and you paid more than $30 for it, you're probably a sucker. Read the rest
I don't know anything about wine, but I like the looks of Vinport's limited-edition Star Trek wine featuring label art by Juan Ortiz. The labels represent classic ST episodes: "The City on the Edge of Forever," "Mirror Mirror," and "The Trouble with Tribbles." Star Trek wine (via Laughing Squid) Read the rest
Winter is here. Which means it's time once again to start science-wanking the climate of George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" series. Back in May, i09 had a great piece on possible astronomical explanations for Westeros' weird seasons, where Summer and Winter can each last a decade. The hard part (which prompted lots of great conversations here) is that the lengths of the seasons are apparently totally unpredictable. Here's an eight-year-long Summer. There's a Winter that lasts five years and another that lasts a generation. The implications for food storage, alone, are enough to drive one batty.
Word of Martin says this is magic. But it presents so many science-related questions that it's really, really fun to speculate about how you might explain the differences between that world and ours in purely naturalistic terms.
Now, at The Last Word on Nothing, Sean Treacy brings up a different sort of food-related problem that I'd not even considered while I was busy trying to figure out the volume of the average Westerosi grain silo. How do you grow wine grapes without predictable seasons?
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... grapevines have a life cycle that depends on regular seasons. In winter, grapevines are dormant. Come spring they sprout leaves. As summer begins, they flower and tiny little grapes appear. Throughout the summer the grapes fill up with water, sugar and acid. The grapes are finally ready for picking in early autumn, then go back to sleep in winter. This cycle is why wineries can rely on a yearly grape yield.