The next time you’re popping the cork on a bottle of vino, you might want to spare a thought for the humble hornet/wasp!
That’s because Duccio Cavalieri, a professor of microbiology at the University of Florence in Italy, claims hornets and wasps are one of the secrets behind a wine’s flavor!
Prof. Cavalieri and his colleagues recently made the discovery that wasps and hornets bite into the grapes and help to give the fermentation a jump-start, while grapes are still on the vine. They do so by spreading a yeast called Saccharomyces, which is commonly referred to as “brewer’s yeast” and responsible for wine, beer and bread fermentation . When the wasps bite into the fruit, they leave some of that yeast behind.
Of course, Cavalieri says, winemakers can add yeast later. But wines would not taste the same without the aid of these nasty-flying-yellow-and-black-indiscriminately-stinging-bastards (my words, not theirs). Different yeasts applied at different times have a huge impact on flavors. The wasps also introduce other microorganisms to the grapes, which in turn add subtle flavors to the wine.
One of nature’s great winemakers or not, if there’s one within 6 feet of me, this Sommelier (with the aid of a rolled-up newspaper) will swiftly dispatch it back to the wine god Bacchus!
I was stung by a wasp as a child, after it flew into my can of soda and then when I took a sip, it proceeded to sting me on the tongue. I like to think that I keep my feelings towards wasps well-hidden! …….bastards!