Geologists Say Mineral In Wine Impossible to Detect

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By Courtney Cochran

Another ringer hit the wine industry recently when geologists gathering for the annual Geological Society of America conference in Portland declared there's little evidence the minerals we find in vineyards can be tasted in wines.  Perhaps most shockingly, the geologists said that "the concentration of minerals in wine is below the threshold of human taste and smell."  This all throws a major monkey wrench in the common belief held by critics and tasters-in-the-know (or so they thought) that mineral flavors can be tasted and smelled in many of the wines we quaff.  
Mineral Madness
According to, a goal of the conference was to debunk "mistaken notions about terroir - how landforms, soils, climate and other local conditions define the character of wine."  Their findings fly in the face of common wine instruction, which has long taught tasters that scents like wet stone, slate, granite and the like in wine can be attributed to mineral deposits found in vineyard soils.  A silver lining was offered in the form of quality differences in wine that at least one expert said could likely be attributed to variations in soil texture in vineyards.  As well, water-retention and climate were held up to influence taste and flavor and quality, though a taste test administered at the event and among other audiences failed to show that wines from two different vineyard sites could be consistently differentiated.  

Confounding news like this leaves me scratching my head and wondering why we even bother.  Then again, I KNOW I tasted slate in a Mosel Riesling last week - so I'll stay the course.  I don't care what the geologists say!

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While you may not be able to taste them, a recent blind study found that it was the Iron concentration in certain wines that made scallops taste fishy.

They served a variety of wines with the scallops and analyzed the iron content. It correlated very well with the tendency of the scallops to taste fishy when paired with the wine.

Then to double check, they added iron to the wines that had not caused the fishy flavor and checked the results.

So while you may not taste minerals directly, here is one interesting example where they influence the foods they are paired with.

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