Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Waiter, bring me a bottle of your cheapest wine... And an extension cord.

I am a big fan of wine, and although there is nothing I like more than a really good bottle of, say Kenwood Jack London Zinfandel, my budget doesn’t usually fit with this. When it’s not a special occasion, I have no choice but to drink wine with a smaller price tag.

This has lead me to some interesting discoveries. While perusing the bargain bins of my local wine shop, I’ve found some excellent wines in the $6-$8 range. Occasionally I’ll even take a risk and try one of those $3-$4 bottles of wine that nobody has ever heard of.

Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. I have found a few excellent wines very cheaply, and watched as they quickly became popular and their prices went up. This was especially true in the mid-nineties, as vineyards from Chile were just getting noticed.

Sometimes I am not so pleasantly surprised. I have bought a few bottles of wine that were just way too young to be on the shelves. Then again, I should have known that little good would come out of that $2 bottle of Hungarian Cabernet.

This may no longer be a problem, if the claims of Japanese scientist Hiroshi Tanaka turn out to be true. He claims to have invented a device that, through the use of an electrical current, ages wines instantly, making them more complex and indistinguishable from older, more expensive vintages. From the article:

Without diluting the wine, the electrolysis causes a rapid rearrangement of the hydrogen and oxygen atoms around the alcohol molecules, which would normally take place over years if the wine were ageing naturally.

The device should become commercially available in January, and it’s a machine I want at my house. If nothing else, it could make for really fun wine-tasting parties. Have a glass of the cheap stuff, and then compare it to a glass of the same wine that’s been instantly “aged”. I’m really hoping to find this machine at a local shop very soon. I’m thinking it could even lead to a price drop in some of the more expensive vintages. If this thing really works, there will be no need to go for expensive bottles, unless you’re an absolute purist.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

if you get the wine-zapper I'll be interested to hear your opinion of it. Just one thing-

The wine zapper rearranges the hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Isn't that how they turn vegetable oil into Crisco?

If a person (not necessarily me, but maybe me, maybe sometimes) consumes four times the amount of wine recommended by Mayo clinic in an evening, and this "zapped" wine turns out to be full of a new scary thing called trans-alcohols, the public health repercussions could be very serious.

I await your opinion of the wine zapper as eagerly as I await the news that "trans-alcohols" are nothing to worry about.