Two weeks ago I returned home from The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, held at the Meadowood Napa in St. Helena the week prior to Premiere Napa Valley. I’m still not sure what I was doing there, but no one kicked me out and I sure wasn’t going to say anything.
This past week, Dr. Dipak Das, tenured research faculty at the University of Connecticut, was found guilty of 145 counts of research misconduct by an internal institutional review board. Das’s research findings had strongly supported the idea that resveratrol found in wine is capable of conveying health benefits to wine drinkers. It’s worth noting that even though Das was very prolific—that is, his lab turned out more than the average number of papers—Das didn’t publish in high-profile journals, whether because his work was rejected by the top-tier or because he chose to submit manuscripts only to less competitive publications. For more detail on Das’s scientific misconduct, see Tom Mansell’s piece published on Palate Press last week.
Editors' note: To close 2011, Palate Press: The online wine magazine will be featuring some of our top stories from the past year. Our first piece comes from the talented Erika Szymanski, who lends her passion and background for wine science to the screwcap/natural cork debate.
Search for “cork vs. screw cap” and you’ll find plenty of discussions on reduction-oxidation chemistry, an increasing amount of data, and plenty of arguing. What you won’t find is much comparing corks and screw caps on an environmental footing.
Would you drink fluorescent green wine? Most molecular biologists-in-training experience their first taste of genetic engineering by transferring a jellyfish gene into (harmless) Escherichia coli, making the bacteria glow green under UV light. One slow day this past winter, my lab-mates and I contemplated the ramifications of transferring that same gene into Vitis vinifera. Fluorescent green wine? Fluorescent green wine! Oh, wait a minute. Do we seriously want such a thing? And has someone already done it?