Man, Evolution, Intervention, Energy and Wine

By David Molina

DNA. Source: Shutterstock

Man and Evolution
Homo Sapiens Sapiens is a work of art of Mother Nature itself; each cell is a treasure that stores privileged information in a kind of bar code, DNA. The entire evolutionary process from the origin of life of the first cell is chemically encoded in the genome; it is the Oxford Wine Companion of evolutionary biology. All living beings share this same base of chemical coding (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine) with millions of different combinations, an irrefutable proof of a common origin for all living beings on earth. It is the result of the work of many and gifted scientists: Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell, Gregor Mendel, Francis Crick and James Watson, Francis Collins, who directed the decoding of human DNA in 2016, without forgetting Rosalind Franklin, the woman that history must recognize as a sapiens that contributed in an important way to the discovery.

Tree of Life, Haeckel 1910

With due respect to all religions, humanity is undoubtedly the ultimate expression of biological evolution on earth and has no equal. Today, epigenetics, a branch of genetics, helps us understand why. The spectacular evolutionary leaps, from the first cell in its adaptation to the environment, have positioned humanity at the top of the biological pyramid. Man is the amazing result of a long process in the form of a highly sophisticated and intelligent multi-cellular eukaryotic organism that has positioned itself as the dominant species on earth in all senses. Its powerful presence is of such importance that its impact has evident effects on the unique and wonderful blue planet, but in this paper we will not enter into debate about the collateral effects of its existence.

As individuals and society we have achieved impressive things, leaving life in trees for the prairies, the discovery of fire, the use of stones as first tools, articulated language as a means of communication between individuals (key aspect in the advance as an organized species), the development of agriculture, the first civilizations, the creation of the wheel, wine, graphic writing (the first emoticons) and a never ending list of amazing creations and discoveries.

Charles Darwin

Curiosity, inquisitiveness and ambition are unique characteristics of our species and this has led us to land on the surface of Earth’s small satellite, the moon; to eradicate diseases that seemed incurable, to come close of being able to fight cancer and perhaps eradicate it in the near future; to communicate at a distance in space and time, something that almost seems like science fiction films’ special effects, or perhaps magic. It is an endless number of great things.

Humanity with its characteristic intelligence has created an infinite intellectual universe thanks to science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics, reasoning and evolutionary thinking. It seems that almost everything is possible for Homo sapiens sapiens, even to condition him/herself. A single individual may be able to modify and influence the needs and behaviours of society, creating new and changing trends or fashions. Applicable in all aspects, it also occurs in the wine industry and market… Without doubt society is very clever, but also very vulnerable and malleable.

Intervention, Energy and Wine
Although sometimes it does not seem so, there is a point of balance between all things… just as it also happens between the artisan/ancestral/craft movement and the use of scientific knowledge and the latest advancements in technology.

Wine, decisions, interventions

It is relevant to clarify that vines themselves do not make wine; interventionism is necessary for the wine to exist and become drinkable and enjoyable from a sensorial and even intellectual hedonism. Wine is not made by itself. The intervention of man is essential at all times. Intervention begins in an obvious way with the decision of where to set up the vineyard, what variety and what clone and rootstock to use, how to cultivate, how many kilos of grapes to grow, when to harvest, where and how to produce are just some key points of a long human process. Interventionism is not considered correct nowadays in the world of human process. Intervention is looked down upon today in the world of wine, but a minimum microbiological control in the process allows guaranteeing to drink wine and not vinegar. Fermentative microorganisms do not understand about sensorial hedonism, which is why a few centuries ago oil, herbs, honey and even resin were added to the wine so it would taste good, since it spoiled very easily and quickly once spring arrived after the harvest. Many of the adaptations applied in the processes are the result of trial and error.

The scale of intervention in the winemaking is not solely a romantic or historical issue, which can be a very beautiful and attractive idea; the concept on which a wine is created is important, but the main issue is the economic sustainability of the production. Few people make wine just for the pleasure of it if there is no economic reward at the end, which is totally fair, one must survive. How many bottles do you want to produce, what kind and style of wine and the final quality sought or desired for a specific segment of the market require economic sustainability, without it the future does not look good.

Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, discíple of Carl Seagan
Source: Bruce F Press/Wikimedia Commons

Leaving behind practicalities and logical thinking, we begin the search for the most beautiful part that most consumers fall in love with, we enter the most ethereal and intangible section of wine, which we cannot see, nor touch, but perhaps feel. Moving forward on the path towards the purest and minimalist essence of wine production, we find producers who conceptually seek the link between wine and cosmic spiritual energy or simply seek pure energy. This is at first difficult to associate or understand for the more analytical, pragmatic or more hypothalamic thinking. From here we will try to clarify the link between energy and wine in the most reasonable, simple and understandable possible way for the reader. With this premise the message onwards is based on the story of Neil de Grasse Tyson, disciple of the reputed scientist Carl Seagan, and renowned astrophysicist, writer and acclaimed world-famous scientific publiciser.

For some people energy has a clearly spiritual aspect and for others it is definitely physical. The first is difficult, almost impossible to argue with data; the second is based on facts and data scientifically proven and explained.

But how does the cosmic energy ends in a wine glass?
A journey in space and time…

Understanding that everything and everyone is a result of the sun and the stars may sound weird, but in fact we are energy with a physical form that comes surprisingly from the dust of the stars of the universe. The elements that constitute matter as we know it today, hydrogen, silicon and iron from the rocks and stones of the vineyards, the carbon on which our body is built, the matter with which we can build things (cars, houses, airplanes, etc.), the trunk and the vine shoots, the green of the leaves, the colour, the tannins and aromas of the wine, the entire base of this matter was created in the dark space billions of years ago, in the stars.

Although we do not see or perceive it at first sight, we are surrounded by energy, we are flooded with it, and in fact we are energy. But what is energy? What causes the atoms of the elements that constitute the matter that we can touch and with which we can build things to move and dance? To understand this we must go to the inside of the star that gives off more light in the Milky Way, where we live, a galaxy formed 13 billion years ago and that is part of a group of 50 other galaxies (Andromeda, Magellanic Clouds, etc.). All these galaxies together constitute a group that in turn is part of a cluster of many other groups of galaxies that make up the Virgo Super cluster, and on and on and expansively to infinity, a concept that escapes the understanding of many. But let’s move on and try to understand where the energy comes from.

The Milky Way, where is the source of vital energy, the Sun. Source: Xataca

At the brightest point of the Milky Way is the Sun, the creator of life on Earth. Inside 2 hydrogen atoms fuse together and create helium; this fusion gives off an explosion that generates such an amount of energy that it keeps wandering around the Sun for 10 million years before reaching the surface, and once there it takes off and flies freely from the Sun into space and ends up reaching the Earth in the form of visible light. Once this energy in the form of light reaches the Earth, it impacts on the surface of the soil, the rocks, the leaves of the trees and also the vineyards, that will capture it to do the photosynthesis and save energy that will be used later.

Once the light energy has impacted on the chlorophyll (chemical compound that gives the green colour to the plants) of the vitis vinifera (the vine) leaf, it is converted into chemical energy, which in turn is used by the plant to build vegetal matter uniting (like children when playing to build with Lego pieces) different chemical elements obtained through the air and soil by absorbing water. With all this the small plant is able to build a firm and magnificent vine and bear every harvest beautifully coloured grapes, full of sugar, acids, tannins and aromatic precursors. The grapevine thus becomes a transmitter of solar energy.

Solar energy travelling in space towards the earth // Leaves transforming light energy into tasty grapes

It is then when man comes into play with his knowledge and interventionist decisions; all are necessary for that energy to end up expressing its origin in the glass. He will decide when to collect the grapes will provide the means and thanks to the generous collaboration of our tiny and dear allies, the yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Torulospora) and the bacteria (Oennococus Oenni, Lactobacillus Plantarum), the elixir of the grape (the grape juice) will be transformed into wine. All the light energy that came from the sun through space is converted by the leaves into chemical energy, then into solid matter, and finally into aroma and flavour. 

Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

We can say that wine is transformed pure energy that comes from space; it goes through different stages and forms and finally becomes wine thanks to the controlled intervention of man and his beloved microscopic allies.

When we savour a wine, we are actually receiving its energy and depending on the wine we taste, we also perceive its origin, what the French call “terroir”. Seen this way, there is no doubt that the dust of the stars and the solar light energy has something to do with its origin.

But there does not end the path of space energy… When we taste a wine the energy in our brain converts the energy of wine (visual, olfactory, gustatory and tactile stimuli) into the electricity of our cognitive thinking (perception, interpretation and reasoning), and this same energy is what directs our vocal cords so that they produce sound in the form of a voice (description, language and argument of the wine) by means of a coherent and meaningful verbal message.

All is energy and energy is all
All these transformations of the different states of energy happen constantly and everywhere at once and from the beginning of everything. It is the energy of the stars that comes from space that moves the wind, the waves, the leaves, that generates life on earth and gives shape to all the living beings that inhabit it. The energy is transformed.

The Sun, energy and Life

The sun is synonymous with life and its energy is present in the wine that we drink and enjoy sensually and intellectually, both at the same time. Humanity is very fortunate to receive this energy from the stars. This source of life that happily falls from heaven for free is a true gift of the universe.

As a species, our evolution and everything we have achieved is amazing. I hope that our intelligence and ability will allow us to continue enjoying the energy that the sun gives us and this wonderful planet, with its beautiful vineyards that decorate the land as gardens and the delicious wines that we know how to create willingly and deliberately.

I believe in energy, in science, in evolutionary thinking, in psychology, in philosophy and in many other things that make sense!

David Molina
Although first steps of David Molina as a professional were as a Physical Trainer, he soon decided to get involved in the world of wine. The starting point was gastronomy in the family restaurant and he soon became director of a restaurant in Barcelona center. There he discovered that the wines were his motivation. All this led him to graduate in the School of Sommeliers of Barcelona and from there he worked in Jean Luc Figueres, Sant Pau and elBulli. After his hard years, he joined Vila Viniteca. He combined that work with trips and studies in Viticulture, Enology and Wine Marketing. It was also when he discovered his great passion for writing. The last time he worked for a company was in 2005 and 2006. In 2007 he decided to study at The Institute of Wine Spirit & Education Trust, better known as WSET. David Molina graduated as an AIWS (Diploma graduation in wine knowledge) with great success in 2008. This institution is considered to be the most prestigious, in addition to being recognized throughout the world as the most solid studies and fundamental pillars for access to MW (Master of Wine). Currently, he works in Barcelona advising export projects in Asia and tasting and valuing wines. His latest challenge is Outlook Wine, a project committed to education and training around wine.

Image References:
Photo 1:
http://noticias.universia.es/ciencia-tecnologia/noticia/2017/01/10/1148231/adn-podria-ayudarte-encontrar-empleo.html
Photo 2: https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archivo:Haeckel_arbol_bn.png
Photo 3: https://www.xataka.com/otros/la-historia-de-una-de-las-ideas-mas-peligrosas-jamas-pensada-la-teoria-de-la-evolucion
Photo 4: https://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/is-it-wrong-for-christian-have-drink-alcohol.html
Photo 5: https://interestingengineering.com/25-reasons-neil-degrasse-tyson-is-one-of-the-funniest-scientists-of-all-time
Photo 6: https://www.nvinoticias.com/nota/81711/ya-puedes-hacer-un-viaje-virtual-en-360-grados-al-centro-de-nuestra-galaxia
Photo 7: http://www.e-consulta.com/nota/2017-11-13/ciencia/en-unos-5-millones-de-anos-el-sol-sera-una-nebulosa-y-morira-investigadora
Photo 8: https://www.gob.mx/aserca/articulos/uva-fruto-de-la-vid?idiom=es
Photo 9: http://sobrelatierra.agro.uba.ar/logran-cuadruplicar-la-oferta-de-levaduras-de-cerveza-en-el-pais/
Photo 10: https://tecreview.tec.mx

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