About us

Tom Mansell: Wine & Science Department

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Tom sampling habañero-infused vodka on Nantucket

I’m a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering at Cornell University.  When I came to Ithaca, I promised myself that I would take this unique opportunity to learn as much as I could about wine in the heart of the 3rd biggest wine-producing state in the US.

Under the tutelage of some enologists, microbiologists, and viticulturists in the newly created Program in Vitculture and Enology, I’ve learned some of the basics of wine science and winemaking.  These scientists have taught me that a little understanding of microbiology, plant biology, and chemistry can go a long way towards decoding the world of wine.

There is so much more to know, though, and I haven’t even scratched the surface.  That’s why I invite you, fair reader, to come along with me on an enological journey through the Finger Lakes and beyond.


Richard Pliny: Beer Department
Richard Pliny

From his first sip of beer, Richard Pliny was captured by the fizzy drink’s allure. Through years of research and experimentation he has sought to understand beer’s secrets, as indeed he still does. Now an amateur brewer and professional scientist, Richard seeks to share his passion for the drink with others.
Currently, Richard is pursuing his PhD in Chemical Engineering. He exploits his university’s resources to further his knowledge of brewing and fermentation whenever he can, drawing heavily on the strong food science program. Like Tom, Richard has found that a basic understanding of biology and chemistry greatly elucidates the beer making process.
In contributing with Tom, Richard will take you on a tour of not only the beers of Upstate New York, but also the fundamentals of fermentation itself. There are many beers to be sampled and much more knowledge to be gained, so come join Richard on his exploration of beer.

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6 Responses to About us

  1. Chris Stamp on 18 May 2009 at 11:54 am

    Dear Tom:

    I just discovered your site through Lenndevours. I really enjoy the chemistry aspect you provide. There are so many wine blogs popping up yet so few that offer anything new. Yours is a breathe of fresh and interesting air. Thanks!

    Sincerely,
    Chris Stamp
    Lakewood Vineyards

  2. ithacork on 19 May 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Chris,
    Great to hear from you. It’s great to have winemakers reading and especially commenting. I hope to get to the west side of Seneca for a proper wine tour sometime soon.

  3. [...] at work:  Tom Mansell, V&E alumnus, Chemical Engineering PhD student at Cornell and wine blogger recently contributed [...]

  4. EnjoyFineWines on 12 November 2009 at 12:03 am

    Thank you for discussing the scientific aspects of wine and wine production. I really like your recent article at Palate Press about Malolactic Fermentation.

  5. Betsy Powers on 3 October 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Tom,
    I’m wondering if I could have your opinion on something. I’m a red wine drinker. Most of the time I can have 4 or 5 glasses during an evening out and I feel fine the next day. Usually no hangover or anything. Every now and then (like this past Saturday night)I can get an awful hangover (headache, nausea etc.) even if I only have two glasses. I’m wondering if it matters how long the red wine has been opened and hanging around the restaurant. What do you think? Does the fact that a bottle of wine has been opened for awhile cause some kind of ‘chemical’ reaction that causes my hangover?
    Thanks for your help!!
    Betsy

  6. Tom Mansell on 7 October 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Betsy:
    Open wines will start to accumulate acetaldehyde as ethanol is exposed to oxygen. Acetaldehyde (ACHO) is an intermediate in alcohol metabolism (accumulation of ACHO is why your cheeks turn red when you drink) and it’s possible that wines with more acetaldehyde might cause it to build up in your system which might contribute to your hangover.

    HOWEVER, headaches and hangovers are very poorly understood and there could be any number of other reasons for your issues, including the food you ate, your caffeine intake, and a million other things.

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