Have you ever been in a tasting room and watched the server open a wine, sniff, sip, and then make a weird, squishy face? Off to the side, the server whispers to a colleague, “Dude, is it a root day?” These “insider” words are derived from the Lunar Calendar—fruit, root, leaf, and flower. The terms have been used by generations of gardeners and farmers who follow the moon cycle for growing the healthiest crops. When the moon sits in certain phases, the success of a crop tied to that phase tends to be greater. For example, according to the Lunar Calendar, when the moon sits in a water sign such as Cancer, these are leaf days and perfect to develop leafy and stem-based plants.
Many believe the Lunar Calendar also can affect how your wine tastes. If you accept the notion that wine is a living thing, then it makes sense that a fruit-based drink won’t taste its finest on leaf day. What’s the outcome? Red wine may taste flat or off—aka funky—on root and leaf days. Flower days are awesome for your un-oaked, aromatic white wines, such as viogniers, albarinos, and rieslings. The home run is a fruit day (given that our wine originates from fruit), so it’s game on and all wines should taste to their potential.
Being a Moon Child, yet considering myself pragmatic, I recently put this Lunar Wine Tasting to the test. I grilled bone-in pork chops and poured a Bodegas Faustino Rioja alongside. Happily, my chops were spot-on with great grill marks, and rich with flavor and tenderness. Eagerly, I chased my bite with the rioja—and made the squishy face! I crazy love rioja, but the wine seemed off. My rioja was funky. Intrigued as to why, I pulled out my phone and hit my bookmarked Lunar Calendar site. Bingo, I learned it was a root day, which isn’t the best day to experience one of my favorite red wines. Like a true wine lover, I still drank it, but it lacked its normal moxie.
The following day, I made a salad chock full of healthy things (still chugging on the New Year’s resolution) including spinach leaves, beets, red peppers, and bit of that leftover pork chop. With the climate change temps we’re experiencing in Orange County, I poured a refreshing Nortico Alvarinho with the salad. Holy smokes! The food, the wine, even the healthy bits were tasty! To confirm my suspicions as to why the wine was so yummy, I checked the Lunar Calendar and learned it was a flower day—a perfect day to showcase my chosen alvarinho.
Nortico Alvarinho 2014
- This alvarinho is from Portugal rather than the traditional albarino from Spain.
- The wine has a light, crisp, freshness with hints of peach, citrus, and tropical fruits.
- Find it at Whole Foods Laguna Niguel for about $12. If you visit this Whole Foods, chat with its wine specialist, Philip Osentin. He’s super-friendly and readily available, stocking shelves and talking to shoppers. Since he joined the team, I’ve noticed a greater inventory of Old World wines at wonderful prices.