Why wine and tea taste so good

Wine and tea are both delicious, this we know and have always known. But, new research has finally given us the precise locus of just where their deliciousness comes from.

Today, we took a look at the most amazing scientific breakthroughs that this year has seen in a pretty incredible year in science. And commenter Sparrowgrass gave us one more breakthrough to add to the list: "The [discovery of the] tannosome, the plant organelle where tannins are stored. Finally we might see some science-led advances in tea agriculture, brewing and technology."

Yes, scientists finally found the source of where the tannins in our tea and wine come from this year. Why is this important? Well, two reasons, one of which we've known about for a long time: taste. When they come up against our tastebuds, tannins import a quick shock of bitterness. But, when they're allowed to mellow with age (perhaps as part of a nice Malbec), we start to experience the taste of tannins as an almost textural sensation — the famed "dryness" of wine.

The second reason this discovery is important is that, although we've known what tannins do for a long time, just where in the plant they come from has remained a mystery — and finding their source opens up a lot of possibilities for bioengineering. "People have been trying to figure this out since the 1960s," Ian Burbulis, a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Virginia explained to Scientific America. "By understanding the molecular mechanism, we can engineer systems that direct payloads within different compartments of the cell, which could be used in anything from biofuels to changing the content of wine."

You can check out the whole paper over in Oxford Journals' Annals of Botany. Cheers!

Image: ralphunden