Science Explains: Why You Can't Drink Red Wine With Fish

By Brett Israel | October 23, 2009 1:35 pm

red-wine-webSnooty wine pairing rules, such as the edict that one must only drink white wine with fish, now have a little data behind them, according to a new study. Researchers found a correlation between the high iron content of red wine and a nasty, fishy aftertaste when the reds are sipped with seafood. In the experiment, tasters ate a bit of scallop, tasted some wine and evaluated the aftertaste on a scale of 1 to 4. The diners found the unpleasant aftertaste was more intense with wines that had a higher iron content, the researchers say [Los Angeles Times]. The researchers were able to block the aftertaste by adding a compound that masks the iron.

The iron content of a wine depends on the composition of the soil in which the grapes were grown, the dust on the berry, contamination during harvesting, transportation, and crushing, and the conditions during fermentation [Telegraph]. The new research, published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggests that some low-iron red wines are OK to drink with fish. While red wines tend to have more iron than whites, it varies according to the type of grape, country of origin, and vintage.

But the iron is only half the story. The researchers report that they haven’t yet isolated the compound in the scallops that reacts with the wine, but they suspect it’s an unsaturated fatty acid, which could be breaking down rapidly and releasing the decaying fish smell when exposed to iron [ScienceNOW Daily News].

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Image: flickr / yashima

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain
MORE ABOUT: alcohol, fish, senses, taste
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