Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bottling and the Moon

I was thinking this morning about something that Anselme Selosse told me a couple of weeks ago, when I asked him about the lunar cycle and its influence on his work. We were talking about the optimum time for bottling, and he noted that the phases of the moon have an influence on the yeasts, with yeasts becoming more active as the moon waxes, and less active as it wanes. Therefore, he said, the best time to bottle champagne is just before the full moon, as the yeasts are at their most active—with champagne you want the yeasts to be active because of their role in the fermentation in bottle. With still wine, on the other hand, bottling takes place just after the full moon. Presumably there are no yeasts going into your bottle when you're making still wines, but apparently the principle is that you want activity of all forces to be on the decline, allowing the wine to settle down.

Or at least that's how I understood it.


Chris Kissack said...

All delightful and charming. My problem with this sort of process, though, is that if the yeasts are there - as they most certainly are with the Champagne, with the still wine it depends on what racking, filtering and other treatments you have done - and you believe they respond to the phases of the moon, then even if you bottle as the moon wanes, two weeks later it will be waxing again. So won't the yeasts just do their work at that point?

Very nice blog, by the way, Peter. Do please keep it up.

Peter Liem said...

Thanks, Chris. I had actually thought the exact same thing about the yeasts, since the process takes place over a long period of time. Or also, to look at it a different way, if you bottle just before the full moon, then during the following two weeks the moon is actually waning, right? So doesn't that decrease yeast activity? But I'm sure there are other factors, and that it's more complicated than just this. I don't pretend to understand it. I just thought that what Selosse said was quite interesting, and I'd never heard it explained that way before.

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