Extra Shows of the Wine Science Show at MICF

Following great reviews and sold out shows the Wine Science Show is adding two extra shows during the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Click here for link to tickets and Melbourne International Comedy Festival information: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/the-wine-science-show

Here’s the blurb about the show:

This is a wine science talk with jokes, answering questions about how much wine you can drink, why you drink, and how come Hungarians are dangerous with Champagne.

The show tells the story of Dom Perignon, an often lied about icon of Champagne. A name now associated with decadence, though as a pious monk he achieved great things without knowing why and by being a bit of a kill joy. He probably wouldn’t like the fizz his name is now synonymous with.

The Wine Science Show tells this story, gives a few great laughs, and explains how wine, and alcohol in general, impacts the body, mind and bladder.

The show is hosted by Luke Morris. After helping to plant vineyard at the age of 17, Luke has worked in wineries and wine sales in Australia and abroad for over 20 years – specialising in old and rare stock.

Now Luke studies Psychological Sciences at La Trobe University, and has written humour columns for Fairfax Media. He also writes comedy stories for the stage and manages stand-up comedy nights in Bendigo.

The Wine Science Show combines this work and study history, and is presented by Crowded, Pilgrim Bar and BucketofWork.

“…be inspired, entertained and educated.” Weekend Notes.

“…I felt the delicious abandon of a belly laugh.” Any The Hoo Rah.

“A lecture featuring copious amounts of Microsoft Paint and self-deprecation.” @PaulOfFame.


February 15 Thursday – The Wine Science Show in Nottingham

For those friends in the UK, I’ll be at No.17 Castle Gate for a slightly unconventional tasting.

It’ll begin with a discussion on wine production whilst tasting through the different styles hosted by the Weavers staff.

Then I’ll take over, with the Wine Science Show, an entertainingly funny talk through all things wine.

Tell someone you like, and come along yourself.

Book here: https://www.weaverswines.com/the-wine-science-show.html

Buy Tickets for the Wine Science Show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

The Wine Science Show is going to be at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

It’s a wine science talk with jokes, answering questions such as how much wine you can drink, why you drink, and how come Hungarians are dangerous with Champagne. Drawing on biology, psychology and MicrosoftPaint, this is the perfect pre-dinner, post-work, or intra-drinking show.

Buy tickets now via the MICF web site: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/the-wine-science-show

Laborastory: Dom Perignon Story

This was read at Laborastory on October 4, 2017. It is written as a script, so the spelling errors and grammar don’t matter. I haven’t bothered to fix them either ’cause I don’t have time and this is unpaid anyway. For more on Laborastory visit https://thelaborastory.com/

Imagine you’re in the French wine region of Champagne. Surrounded by decadence a vineyard owner holds a glass of wine, and they mutter, as all Champagne owners did in the early 1600s, (now I don’t know much French but I’ll use one word here, see if you can pick what it means).

“Where the merde did these bubbles come from, and how the merde do I get rid of them!?” (merde is french for shit)

Of all the massive embarrassments in wine, none are matched for reversal of fortune as the story of Champagne.

For hundreds of years Champagne was a framing area. Then someone got the big idea that they could compete with Burgundy and takeover the table wine market. They’re closer to Paris, and being only a little bit further north shouldn’t make much difference to growing conditions. As a result, Champagne was planted to pinot noir and chardonnay, the main grapes of Burgundy, and production was set to increase.

Things were going okay. The bubbles that Champagne is famous for today were not quite evident early on. Oxidative handling was releasing the Co2 gas, as wine was stored and transported in drums and vessels that were sealed by loose rags and irregular cork plugs.

Then bottles started to get used as a quality control, and these weren’t great bottles. Have you seen wicker baskets around bottles of Chianti, the Italian wine? That’s how they used to hold fragile glass together, and with better corks, gas was now being trapped inside and bottles began to explode.

This was an OH&S disaster.

In one year up to 50% of wine was lost to exploding bottles, and if this wasn’t bad enough, bubbles were a known sign of poor wine making. Something had gone terribly wrong and needed to be fixed.

Enter Dom Perignon.

Born Perrie Perignon (1638), and as far as names go it’s better than Tom Tomlinson, but not as funny as Neville Neville. Perrie’s father was a local town clerk who’s family owned vineyards. At the age of eighteen Perrie joined an Abby to begin life as a Benedictine monk. Those are the ones that wear hooded robes, don’t talk much, work long hours, and are self-sufficient.

The self-sufficient part is very important. It is why the monks ran a vineyard, and why the quality of their wine was crucial to their survival. In 1668, when Perrie was 30, he was sent to manage Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers. He had to oversee everything, the other monks, land renters, and wine production. He was the general manager. The Dominus. The Dom.

He got the job “on account of the purity of his taste and the soundness of his head”, which translates that he could drink a lot of booze and not go whooo. You know, he was a keg on legs, and knew plenty about the drink.

And he really did.

Each vineyard is different, and Dom Perignon could identify the farm of each grape from the quality of the fruit. He would also blend fruit from different vineyards to make a seamless wine. A process now known as assemblage, to produce a cuvee.

The Dom had his favourite vineyards, and to make his wine better, Perrie implemented stringent protocols on harvesting and pruning. Apparently he was stressful to work for. Perrie Perignon was exacting. The kind of boss you wouldn’t work for unless you had to. And yes, the monks in the Abby had to work there.

One of the things the Dom did was to remove foot treading. Now, the purpose of foot-treading is to softly break grape skins and mix the must. You get in a big tub with your mates, have a smoke, a glass of wine, and walk along in a row singing songs. Smoke, drink, sing, smoke, drink, sing. It’s romantic, communal and modern day winemakers hate it. You can imagine all the impurities. Fermentation gets rid of harmful bacteria, but it’s not a good starting point.

Either the Dom stopped this to prevent his monks having fun, or because he didn’t want his sweaty and dirty monks mixing in the juice. Regardless, the exacting Dom devised a paddled press to split the grapes in a more sterile environment, and this practice has been modified and adopted the world over. This is the 1670s, by the way. He’s reducing staff long before automated checkouts.

With improvements in harvest, blending, and wine purity, Perrie Perignon was able to double the sale price of Champagne wine. His name became surnomous with excellence, mistaken as an exceptional vineyard rather than a winemaker, and his wine was favoured in the court of Louis the Fourteenth, King of France. Importantly he had reduced the bubbles. Almost eradicated them.

But the problem Perignon was working against was this. Yeast eats sugar, breaking it into alcohol and carbon dioxide – this is fermentation. To be fair it wasn’t understood until 1857 when Louis Pasteur discovered yeast. Before this it was even considered a magical gift of gods. What’s important here, is that yeast likes temperatures of around 20 digress centigrade, and it goes dormant in cold weather.

Since Champagne is to the north of Burgundy, and gets colder earlier, what was happening, was during vintage the yeast on grape skins were eating the grape sugar, making carbon dioxide, and then going dormant as the weather got cold, the vat of wine would stop bubbling, assumed to be finished, get bottled, shipped, and in a warmer temperature the yeast would wake up and start to eat again.

This second fermentation was happening within a trapped vessel, and causing problems. Dom Perignon didn’t fully understand this. What he did was devise ways around it, trying to minimise a natural process, even avoid it.

Well, not avoid. What he did was find ways to limit/control the bubbles and make a better drink. People didn’t mind the fizz so much. The big issue was bottles exploding in their hands and corks flying into their eye sockets.

If you wanted fizz, there was already a bonified scientist for that. Dom Perignon started work in 1668, but in 1662 Christopher Merrett, a founding member of the Royal Society in England, a bottle making enthusiast, and a very stubborn academic, presented a paper on how to purposefully put bubbles into wine. Merrett showed that adding sugar to wine and closing the seal could make bubbles. It is a process called capitalisation. It is what Champagne houses do today to ensure a fizz.

Perignon would have been aware of this, but he didn’t want to add bubbles, he wanted to remove them. What made matters worse was that glass production was improving. In the early 1700s stronger bottles that Merret was involved in were available. These could withstand the pressure of the secondary fermentation, and since The Dom had developed a capsule to prevent cork firing out (which is the metal cage you see today), if you add the two, you get wine with more uncontrollable fizz.

In 1715 Dom Perignon died, a blind man still making wine by taste. Random extra fizzy wine were getting to the market, and soon a revolution came to overthrow the King. Champagne was once again on the outer. It went though some lean times.

By 1821 the Abby that the Dom had worked in was near financial ruin. Because the fizz was too hard to fight against they used it as a marking difference, and the Abby promoted the Dom as an inventor (which he was), and a discover of making better wine (which he was), and created the quote “Come quickly, I’m drinking the stars” (which he never said) as a tribute to the local legend, and to help sell some of the bubbling merde.

It wasn’t until the late 1880s that sparkling Champagne was being produced with intended consistency, and the myth of the Dom was used again. Mineral baths and a gin with tonic water could be seen as healthy at the time, why not Champagne with its bubbles. After all it is an “all-round remedy, good against depression, appendicitis, and typhoid.” And it followed logically that the French would use Champagne to improve the courage of troops in World War One.

Because nothing says courage like drunk men firing guns (cheese eating surrender monkeys).

Later the Dom was used to promote fizz in America at the end of prohibition. This time there was a claim of a 250th anniversary of the Champagne invention, highlighting the historic link with French Royalty, and Dom Perignon’s name became the brand of a high price wine. All this advanced Champagne as a luxury item devised by a pious monk that makes you happy.

Today bubbles are sprayed at celebrations. You don’t hold back on the stuff. Who cares if you break a few bottles. Let’s party.

In fact you could imagine a modern Champagne owner, surrounded by decadence, holding up a glass and saying, “We love the merde out of these bubbles. Bless this merde for Dom Perignon.”

Tips to Identify Wine

AGD table with bottles on it
Options left overs, people removed for fear of exposure

There is a game called Options, played by wine-wankers. What we do (yes I said “we”) is each take a bottle of wine to dinner, the label and any other identifying marks covered. The goal is to taste each wine and, by answering questions, to deduce exactly what it is. This is achieved by selecting the correct option from a range provided by each wine’s owner.

One wine is quizzed at a time, and there are usually three options offered with each question. These questions classically concern the wine’s nationality, region, vintage, grape(s), and winery (in no regimented order, though the winery’s name comes last).

While absolute masters, freaks, and extremely dull people can identify wine in complete isolation, most of us mortals use the following tricks of the trade… Continue reading “Tips to Identify Wine”

The Strangest Food and Wine Experience

It is important to remain professional in the face of stupidity. One must always remain professional. Imagine if Michael Caine, sprawled on the floor of a seat-less bus and stretching between a gabble of crim mates and a palate of bullion, lost his cajoles while hanging over the edge of the Andes. If he started blithering gibberish and whinged in truly unbecoming self-pity, like a school child with a cheese and vegemite sandwich instead of plain peanut butter like he asked for and offered to make himself mum you never listen, he wouldn’t have got anything done.

Michael Caine in the Italian Job
Behave like Michael Caine as much as possible

Yes, as the astute of you will gather, it is important to remain calm no matter the circumstances. Britton wasn’t built by cry-babies (it was mostly done by the Romans) and Australia wasn’t founded by fly-swatters (they had hats).

One such situation of calm in the face of bewilderment happened upon this writer in the not too distant past. It occurred while discussing the menu for a food and wine function. Food and wine – you will understand – can be jolly good bedfellows, or can be as prone to agitation as a mongoose and a cobra stuck in a pit with a chicken holding a blade surround by a ring of fire lit by a scorpion.

Anyway, thusly the conversation began… Continue reading “The Strangest Food and Wine Experience”

Top Ten Things to do with Sauvignon Blanc

A Good Drop - sauvignon blanc a weed that bears fruit
sauvignon blanc, a weed that bears fruit

Considered by many in the wine industry to be a noxious weed, sauvignon blanc has infiltrated wine circles much the same as Kim Kardashian has infiltrated the news cycle—by being completely devoid of legitimate worth but (somehow) being popular among the plebs.

Still, despite the accompanying bile, since it is popular we must talk about the best things to do with it.

1. Run it through an RO (reverse osmosis device to remove alcohol), copper (to remove phenolic characters) and charcoal (to remove its basic poisons aka flavour).

This way you can drink the pure water that remains.

2. Graft it with cabernet franc to make cabernet sauvignon

The only good sauvignon blanc has done is to remove itself from the food chain and become something supremely better. The grafting of SB with CF to produce CS is G8 for all M8’s of wine, OMG.

3. Cook the bejesus out of it

The acid in Sauvignon Blancs make it perfect for pasta’s and broth’s, and you wont miss the lack of wine flavour if you overcook.

A Good Drop - early tests with sauvignon blanc were not encouraging
early tests with sauvignon blanc were not encouraging

4. Weed out guests

If the guest says, ‘I’ll have a glass of sauvy b thanks’, then you know you can put away the good china.

5. Put Semillon in it

For hundreds of years the French (and then Australians) blended sauvignon blanc with semillon to give the wine some taste. Then the lazy kiwi’s couldn’t bother with the semillon (possibly because they didn’t read the instructions) and started selling semillon devoid sauvignon blanc to an unsuspecting, and kindly, international market. What cheek!

6. Get kick backs

Apparently, owing to Australian/New Zealand Fair Trade Agreement NZ producers can claim the Small Winery Tax Rebate from the OZ government. In other words, if a New Zealand winery sells one million dollars of wine to Australia, the Australian government pays them three hundred thousand in tax rebate. Choice eh bro?

7. Eat Smelly Cheese

A sauvignon blanc is very acidic (that crisp character which is shown better in riesling). This means the wine cleans the mouth a little before it can get smothered in something tasty, that being the cheese.

A Good Drop - recent tests with sauvignon blanc have not been encouraging
recent tests with sauvignon blanc have not been encouraging

8. Taunt homeless people

Standing around drinking completely useless semi-alcoholic crap aka Sauvignon Blanc really gets the ire of homeless people. They watch your brown-paper bag with lustful imaginings of spirits, or beers, or real wine. Seeing the label of Sauvignon Blanc is an insult! You’re rubbing in their face your total disregard for the money you have and the options they desire.

9. Remember Your Evil

Barbarian, mass murderer and warlord Genghis Kahn loved a tipple of sauvignon blanc. Consider him when you drink it.

10. Hurt Children

Like rubbing betadine into wounds, pouring sauvignon blanc into children’s open eyes really smarts. It is also a more practical use for the muck than drinking it.