Though Hackaday scribes have been known to imbibe a few glasses in their time, it’s fair to say that we are not a wine critic site. When a news piece floated by about a company getting into trouble for illegally submerging crates of wine though, our ears pricked up. Why are vintners dumping their products in the sea?
Making wine, or indeed any alcoholic beverage, starts with taking a base liquor, be it grape juice, apple juice, barley malt solution, or whatever, and fermenting it with a yeast culture to produce alcohol. The result is a drink that’s intoxicating but rough, and the magic that turns it into a connoisseur’s tipple happens subsequently as it matures. The environment in which the maturation happens has a huge influence on this, which is one of many reasons why wine from the cellar of a medieval chateau tastes better than that from an industrial unit in southern England. The Californian company was attempting to speed up this process by leaving the bottles beneath the waves.
Having something of an interest in the finer chemical points of the maturation process we were fascinated by the idea that an undersea maturation can lead to a better wine, and while the explanations we found online provided an answer involving higher oxygen content we have to admit to being unsatisfied. The low light and constant temperature we can understand, but the idea that the water pressure might also have a bearing on the final result we’re less satisfied with. The whole point of a wine bottle is that it has an impermeable seal which can take significant pressure differences — see a champagne bottle for an example — and which lets nothing in so the wine can’t spoil. The curiosity of an engineer is not limited only to electronics or machines, so we have to ask whether an underwater maturation system could be replicated in a hackerspace without the need for a diving tender. Can we turn supermarket plonk into something that would fool a somellier? We’re guessing that finding out could result in inebriation.
Looking for more wine? Check out our 2016 Hackaday Prize best product winner, vinduino from [Renier van der Lee].
Header: Bottles, Shipwreck Museum by Oast House Archive, CC BY-SA 2.0.