Wine Wizardry: Can a gadget age wine?

It seems we’re just not satisfied with time; creams abound to slow down the march of time in our faces and now there’s a new gadget which claims to do the opposite for wine.

age wine 1

The makers of a new gadget called the ‘Wine Wizard’ are taking the adage ‘time is money’ at face value: ‘ageability’ is the property of wine that makes auction prices skyrocket. They claim their gadget is able to mimic the passage of time in a few minutes, improving the taste of the wine and making it mellower. If tests in the US prove successful it could be on sale by the end of 2013. Suppose you could open a bottle of immature, harsh, tannic cabernet sauvignon half an hour before dinner and by the time you sit down to eat the wine has aged, as if by magic, into a soft fruity wine, tasting as though it had been matured in perfect conditions for a decade.

Dumbeldore Wine Wizard

Unlike most consumable goods, wine has the potential to improve with age. It’s still perishable and capable of deteriorating and not all wines improve with age, but those that do are highly-prized. Complex chemical reactions which happen over a number of years which involve a wine’s sugars, acids and phenolic compounds (such as tannins) can alter the aroma, colour, ‘mouthfeel’ and taste of the wine in a way that improves it. Not all wines should be aged, it really depends on the grape variety, vintage, viticultural practices, the wine region and the style in which the wine is made. And of course the condition that the wine is kept in after bottling is crucial to how well wine ages. Done properly with the right bottle, it can take some time but will improve the wine…and the value of your cellar.

The Wine Wizard uses electro-magnetic pulses and acoustic waves to increase the pH of the wine (reducing acidity) and reduced sulphite levels. The process takes 15 minutes to an hour depending on how much ‘aging’ the bottle needs.

old-wine-bottles-r4

In 150 blind taste tests, a whopping 97% of amateur wine drinks noted that the device improved the flavour of red wine and 90% felt that the aroma had been improved. White wine scored slightly lower but nevertheless an impressive 85% or testers decided the flavour had been improved. It doesn’t work so well on wine with high sugar levels or carbonation so isn’t well suited to sparkling or dessert wines.

wine cellar

The tests were only conducted on wines between $6-12 a bottle under non-controlled conditions so maybe there’s an element of the placebo effect? With red wines in that price bracket it’s also often the case that a bit of air works wonders and it may be that the wine wizard allowed increased aeration.

There is some evidence to suggest that magnets of this nature are able to help mellow wines quickly but, like one’s face, it’s probably better just to let it age gracefully.

wine improves with age

Sources and further reading:

Decanter – New gadget can age wine in minutes inventors claim

BT.com – New gadget ages wine in minutes

The Daily Meal – Can gadget age wine?

Wikipedia – Aging of wine

The Wine Club – A new device that claims to age wine in minutes

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