Chinese scientists zap wine-ageing process
It is not quite up there with the biblical miracle where water gets turned into wine but Chinese scientists say they have developed a technique for turning undrinkable plonk into a nice drop of vino.
Their idea of passing wine through an electric field to soften and age it has sparked the interest of one of New Zealand's leading wine scientists. New Scientist magazine reports on trials done by a team led by chemist Xin An Zeng at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou. The team found that a few minutes of exposure to an electric field can soften harsh red wine and produce the hallmarks of ageing - a more mature "nose", better balance and greater complexity.
Auckland University wine scientist Paul Kilmartin was interested in the Chinese study, saying he had been doing some work along the same lines. In his case they put carbon electrodes and very low electrical charges into barrels of wine for 12 weeks to slowly mature the wine, replicating the oxygenation process already used by winemakers to get their wines ready to market more quickly. Dr Kilmartin said a lot of maturation and softening processes that normally take months and years could be accelerated. "But winemakers are very worried about putting in large doses of oxygen or something where things change too rapidly." They could give the impression of an aged wine but could generate aldehydes - chemicals that give wine an "off" flavour. He said the Chinese technique could improve aspects of a wine that made it difficult to drink otherwise but it might not work for all wines.
Alan Rimmer of Stonecroft Winery in Hawke's Bay was sceptical of the Chinese research, saying electrical devices that claimed to speed up the ageing process had been around for some time and had never really taken off.
Meanwhile, an Australia doctor has created what is claimed to be the world's healthiest wine by boosting a naturally occurring antioxidant said to clean blood vessels and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Sydney's Phillip Norrie says they have put 100 times more resveratrol than is normally found into each bottle. By keeping arteries free of fatty deposits the wine infused with the odourless, tasteless anti-oxidant acted as a "vascular pipe-cleaner".
Wine food pairing ... it is all about the wine and food .... CHEERS!