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Range Gourmet

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Monday, January 23, 2006


Forget the wine barrels? Japanese firm claims to age wine instantly

Oh, no. Everything I've learned about wine may be obsolete. I'm hoping to figure out how wine experts detect "bouquet of grapefruit and tarragon, Thai basil and ginger; dusty blueberry and biscotti flavors with a brash finish" after only a sip or two of a wine they're trying to convince me to buy. Often, when I get the bottle home, I puzzle at the description that led me to buy it, and wonder if I'll ever be able to either find those flavors myself or write prose like that for a living.

Maybe I can learn to distinguish if a wine spent time in an oak barrel or not. That should be easy. But if this Japanese invention really does what they claim it can, that simple skill will be obsolete.

The Mainichi Daily News reported Saturday that
[a Japanese firm] claims to have perfected a machine that can transform a bottle of just-fermented Beaujolais Nouveau into a fine, mellow wine in seconds, all by zapping it with a few volts of electricity.
See the article for a description and pictures.

Of course, I wondered how a machine could do this. There should be obvious advantages if it really works. The article exclaims
"Think of the savings we'll make. Shorter production time, no need for storage, no need to invest in barrels"
On the other hand, I'm suspicions of the science behind this. How does it work?
[Company president] Tanaka claims the electrolysis treatment instantaneously breaks up water clusters in the wine, allowing the water to more thoroughly blend with the alcohol.
Water clusters??? Hey, I passed my chemistry classes without once hearing about "water clusters." Ok, ok, I'm obviously not a wine expert and not a chemist either, so what do I know.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. And will wine shops describe these instant vintages as "faint bloom of platinum electrodes with just a hint of tarnished electrolyte" or what?


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