Device Invented to ‘Speed Up’ Wine Aging

A group of students at Auckland University have invented a fascinating device which is designed to speed up the aging process of red wine, the Ideal Wine Company recently learned.

Better with age?

According to popular opinion, wine gets better with age. The Ideal Wine Company has previously explained that this isn’t always true – it depends on the quality of the bottle. The rule of thumb tends to be that the more superior the bottle, the more likely it is to improve as it gets older.

This is why if you purchase the Hermitage La Chapelle 1985 from the Ideal Wine Company, for example, you need to store it correctly. You can’t just buy a vintage and expect its quality to appreciate as it ages – if you store it improperly you could expose the bottle to outside agents, such as air, which may damage its overall quality.

Wine Grenade

Alternatively, many wine makers choose to age their wine in the barrel, so they can develop a quality product for their customers – this can be a costly process. Five students at Auckland University, New Zealand; Hamish Elmslie, Jonathan Boswell, Philip Cockrell, Jorg Kampschreur and Mike Moore, have created a device to hasten the aging process for commercial wine producers.

The five students developed a product they call the ‘Wine Grenade.’ The Drinks Business wrote that they turned their idea into a reality after securing NZ$100,000 in funding in 2014, via a Dragon’s Den-style business competition run by the University. The resulting device can slash wine ageing time from two years to six months, via micro-oxygenation.

Cost-cutting device

Elmslie told that “the Wine Grenade is a simple device that puts the process of micro-oxygenation within reach of all winemakers.” He added that “studies have shown that the cost of ageing wine in a barrel is in the dollars-per-litre while the Wine Grenade will cost just cents-per-litre.”

The Wine Grenade has been designed to work only in tanks at the moment, but there’s potential for it to be adjusted, so it can be used in barrels as well. It’s currently being trialled at Hawke’s Bay winery Sacred Hill with Pinot Noir and Merlot.

Mixed reaction

Industry experts have had a mixed reaction to the device. Matt Dicey, who works at New Zealand wine maker Mt Difficulty, admitted that it may prove popular with smaller wineries that can’t afford expensive micro-oxygenation systems, but’s unlikely to be used by fine wine houses. He commented, “if the wine is a premium one, traditional winemaking can’t be beaten, but if it’s for value purposes, then absolutely use it (the Wine Grenade).”


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