Ever wondered if you could turn tap water into wine?
Well now you can, according to San Francisco based company Ava Winery, who are planning to offer ‘designer wines’ based purely on water and no grapes are required.
A recent article in Chromatography Today describes how a couple of former classmates, with backgrounds in biotechnology and science education, visited a winery in Napa Valley, California, and were shown an expensive bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay – famous for being the first Californian wine to be judged better than French Chardonnay. The realisation that they could never afford such a bottle of wine prompted an idea to challenge the conventional method of wine making. Wine is essentially made up of many compounds, so what if, instead of picking and crushing grapes, the essential compounds could be replicated in a lab?
After a few attempts to add the necessary flavourings to ethanol, they utilized the analytical methods of gas chromatography & mass spectrometry, to find out what molecules make up wine and ultimately what effect they have. After the key ingredients were identified, they were added to ethanol to make up the typical wine composition of approximately 13% ethanol & 85% water, flavour, texture and colour molecules. You are probably interested to find out how it tastes? New Scientist magazine had a couple of their sommeliers to test one of Ava Winery’s synthetically produced wines and you can find out what they thought about it here.
Next on Ava Winery’s agenda is to produce an engineered champagne – a copy of a 1992 Dom Perignon. Will synthetically engineered wine & champagne become mainstream in the future? Watch this space!
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