German wine grower has begun playing classical music to his wine, claiming it results in better quality wine with more body and richer aroma.
For one hour every day during the 10-week fermentation process, Christian Butz from Hochstadt in south-western Germany exposes his maturing wine to music ranging from Johannes Brahms' Lullaby to Georges Bizet's Carmen.
The results speak for themselves with all 25 participants in a blind wine-tasting preferring the wine that had been fermented to music.
"There is great demand for the music wine, which sells out quickly," explains Butz.The idea of using music as a part of the wine maturing process was based on scientific studies that show sound waves can produce changes in the human body's autonomic and immune systems.
"If sound wave frequencies can have an impact on our health, then why shouldn't it also work for wine?" he asks.The energy sound system used by the 40-year-old wine grower was developed by musician and health therapist Dirk Kolberg.Butz says that while there is no physical difference in the wines exposed to sound waves, there is a significant variation in taste.
Dornfelder vines exposed to sound waves, for example, produced stronger and more full-bodied wines than normal.Other wine growers in the region have begun to follow Butz's lead while a local third-level institution has even begun to research the subject.
"We have been unable to find any analytical or sensory evidence that sound waves have any effect," says oenologist Wolfgang Pfeifer, although the wine expert accepts that the issue is extremely complex and comprehensive scientific answers are still a long way off.While the scientific analysis has established no significant difference, the question remains as to why this is as the yeast cells are far more active at the beginning of the fermentation process if they are stimulated by sound waves
A stronger fermentation process is the least that would be expected. Some winemakers believe the sound waves that come out of the speaker help to mix the yeast, which then does not have to use its own energy to eat sugar.
Instead, the sugar comes to the yeast which retains extra energy to affect the wine in other ways. "A lot more experiments are necessary to understand what is going on with wine that has fermented with sound waves because, as is often the case, our last test threw up more questions than it did answers," says Pfeifer.
"There are indications that plants are sensitive enough to be affected by different frequencies. We just don't know yet what the consequences are," explains Frantisek Baluska from the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Botanics at the University of Bonn.
So far it has been neither proved no disproved that playing music has a positive effect on plants. "This also means that there is no evidence for the claim that it doesn't work," says the microbiologist.