A Natural History of Wine by Ian Tattersall, Rob DeSalle PDF

By Ian Tattersall, Rob DeSalle

ISBN-10: 0300211023

ISBN-13: 9780300211023

A great bottle of wine could be the spark that conjures up a brainstorming consultation. Such used to be the case for Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle, scientists who often collaborate on publication and museum exhibition tasks. whilst the dialog grew to become to wine one night, it nearly necessarily led the two—one a palaeoanthropologist, the opposite a molecular biologist—to start exploring the various intersections among technological know-how and wine. This ebook provides their attention-grabbing, freewheeling solutions to the query “What can technological know-how let us know approximately wine?” And vice versa.

Conversational and obtainable to all people, this colorfully illustrated publication embraces nearly each that you can think of quarter of the sciences, from microbiology and ecology (for an figuring out of what creates this complicated beverage) to body structure and neurobiology (for perception into the consequences of wine at the brain and body). The authors draw on physics, chemistry, biochemistry, evolution, and climatology, and so they extend the dialogue to incorporate insights from anthropology, primatology, entomology, Neolithic archaeology, or even classical heritage. The ensuing quantity is indispensible for somebody who needs to understand wine to its fullest.

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But in many other molecules the angles at which atoms are connected to one another are not as clear. This is important to biologists because, at the molecular level where fermentation occurs, nature likes shapes. It doesn’t necessarily care what makes up the shapes, taking its cues from the molecules’ external form. So now, with these tools of scale and chemical equations in hand, let’s follow how a carbon atom in a grape is transformed into alcohol. So far it’s been pretty straightforward, but atoms actually bind at different angles to one another, and representing carbon dioxide on a single line does not mean that the bonds made between carbon and oxygen in the physical molecule lie on a 180-­degree continuum—a distinction that obviously affects their shape.

There are many ways in which the various elements we’ve been discussing can bind to one another, and it is this diversity that makes our world so complex, for it is the shape and spatial orientation of a molecule that largely dictates its behavior under various circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at one of the most basic of those elements: oxygen. This is the most abundant element on the surface of our planet, and it is incorporated into the bodies of all of earth’s living beings because they are almost entirely made up of water, which contains oxygen in a ratio of 1:2 with hydrogen.

To make the energy their cells use, plants capture sunlight, and the hallmarks of fruits such as the grape is that they are packed with polymeric sugars derived from photosynthesis, the chemical reactions that occur in the chloroplasts of plant cells. Plants acquired these organelles in the remote past through the cannibalistic engulfment of a bacterium. The photosynthesis chloroplasts make possible is crucial to producing the sugar molecules that are such an important component of wine. Photosynthetic cells in plants depend on various small molecules, the most abundant of which is chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green color.

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A Natural History of Wine by Ian Tattersall, Rob DeSalle


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