AWRI Residency Week 12

My final blog post undoubtedly needs to include the images created from all this wine research and testing. Of the six red wines tested and included in this body of work, two are represented below – one wine was made in Canberra, the other in South Australia.

My previous posts have elaborated on why these artworks have been created, and their use in the scientific method at the AWRI. Now that my highly collaborative residency comes to a close I ask myself how these images might be further developed through the creative process.

Looking at art and drinking wine at the same time is a familiar experience to me, the art world pairs the two in an almost obligatory manner. Yet for the regular consumer, wine is served and consumed at home, probably while sitting at a table. So I am suspicious of turning these artworks into purely wall-based images, when it seems there is a perfectly good alternative surface in the mix – the table top. Beyond this notion my ideas are too unrefined to try and lay out here. Over the next 12 months I hope to develop the images into new forms which speak of not only the scientific context in which they were made, but the site of hospitality in which they could be used.

AWRI Residency Week 11

I was surprised at the reliance on the ‘poster’ format in this corner of the scientific industry. Posters using information design are a quick and accessible way to communicate often immense bodies of research to a viewer.  Posters are rolled up in suitcases and flown to conferences around the world, new fabric-like printing surfaces even allow for ironing in the hotel room.

A poster in one of the AWRI halls caught my eye, acting as a visual reminder of a piece of information shared with me at the beginning of my residency. In this poster (Wilkes and Wheal) I was reminded of the composition of wine, which the graphs reveal is 84% water, 14% alcohol, and the final 2% a mixture of metals, sugar, tannin, acid, and glycerol. The 2% will have some effect on taste (sweetness, acidity, bitterness, etc), but not necessarily the flavour of wine. The flavour (a combination of taste and aroma) requires interactions with air-borne volatiles, or aromas, an even smaller percentage of the wine, so small in fact that it was not even listed on this poster. *

How astonishing that wines, in all their variation, across all the grape varieties, wineries, and price points, are largely differentiated by compounds that make up around 0.1% of the product. ** It makes the connoisseurship within this vast international industry seem even more extraordinary. This vital 0.1% is formed on the vine, in the winery, through fermentation and storage; each facet carefully honed by industry experts in order to develop that fraction of the wine that carries the sensory attributes.

“ …a part-per-trillion of certain compounds may be enough to affect flavour.” (xxi, 2016, Waterhouse, Sacks, Jeffery)

This brings me back to one of my earlier posts in which I was trying to understand and articulate the diversity of influences on wine flavour. In the process I developed a wallpaper design which features drawings of some of these influences. Grape seeds for example if crushed too much release bitterness into the wine, beneficial bugs amongst the vines such as the Green Lacewing or Trichogramma Wasp naturally improve the health and therefore quality of the grapes without the addition of chemicals, and the yeasts and bacteria that are added to the winemaking process will process the sugars in their own subtle ways. This is just a limited snapshot of the complex interactions between natural and human interventions in the winemaking process which form the accumulation of flavours in wine… representing just 0.1%.

Below is an image of that wallpaper.

*The delineations of taste/aroma/flavour are too immense to delve into further here. For more information you can see the article Confusing Tastes and Flavours 2015, C Spence, B Smith, M Auvray.

**This is an oversimplification of the complexity of flavour