Cheating aging

In my previous post I talked about using NDT methods to discover new things in old paintings. During my research about that, I came across something that is almost the opposite of this: making something new older by using NDT methods. Scientists have discovered that it’s possible to age wine at an accelerated rate using ultrasonic waves. Making wine has been around for centuries, without much changes to the basic process, letting grapes and water ferment so the sugars turn into alcohol. This process takes a while, so a large part of winemaking was storing your liquids for an appropriate time in the right containers.

Wine Barrels
Wine aging the traditional way

In the last decade however, scientists shook things up by accelerating this process. Applying 20 kHz ultrasonic waves can induce cavitation in the wine: small bubbles that implode and create very localized high temperature and pressure. This simulates the aging of wine. Biggest difference is that this method of aging can be finished in less than 10 minutes.

Wine aging the non-traditional way
Wine aging the non-traditional way

This seems like a great new innovation, making wine easier and faster, increasing productivity,…  but there is of course a catch: the results aren’t always predictable. Using the same ingredients, same production methods, 1 bottle can turn out great while a different bottle is worthless. In my opinion, this method makes wine less special. Winemaking is some sort of art, requiring knowledge  about which sorts of barrels to use to store the wine, how long the wine should rest before being bottled,… making the critical part of winemaking something that can be achieved in minutes instead of months/years opens the doors for everyone to start producing wine, with no way of telling whether the bottle of wine you just bought was made with love and patience or in just a few minutes with cold, hard science. Do you think science can be a threat to traditional ways that have been around for ages? And would that be a bad thing? Sources: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814602002261 http://inventorspot.com/articles/wineing_goes_ultrasonic_enter_coolness_magnetic_aging http://www.hielscher.com/sonication-of-wine-innovative-applications-of-ultrasound-in-wineries.htm http://www.wineaging.co.nz/wine-aging/

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3 thoughts on “Cheating aging

  1. My parents do know quite a lot about wine and I’m pretty sure that if I told them about this, they wouldn’t even want to try tasting it. Winegrowers use special containers to ferment the wine, which also is part of the flavour. This isn’t something that can’t be acquired in a measly 10 minutes.

    For some traditional methods, I believe that science should be used to enhance the method, not replace it. And I feel that a lot of people think this way (take a look at protest against GMO, for example).

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  2. I agree with driesholeman. I don’t think real whine lovers would buy this. Maybe it is a ‘fun’ whine to show people when you have a party: a 20 year old wine that was made in 10 minutes. Besides this I don’t see a big market for it. The technique is pretty impressive tho.

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  3. I agree with driesholeman. I don’t think real wine lovers would buy this. Maybe it is a ‘fun’ wine to show people when you have a party: a 20 year old bottle that was made in 10 minutes. Besides this I don’t see a big market for it. The technique is pretty impressive tho.

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