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vineri, ianuarie 27

In vino...

Vintage or vile, wine is all the same after cheese

NEXT time you are organising a cheese and wine party, don't waste your money on quality wine. Cheese masks the subtle flavours that mark out a good wine, so your guests won't be able to tell that you are serving them cheap stuff.

Bernice Madrigal-Galan and Hildegarde Heymann of the University of California, Davis, presented trained wine tasters with cheap and expensive versions of four different varieties of wine. The tasters evaluated the strength of various flavours and aromas in each wine both alone and when preceded by eight different cheeses.

They found that cheese suppressed just about everything, including berry and oak flavours, sourness and astringency. Only butter aroma was enhanced by cheese, and that is probably because cheese itself contains the molecule responsible for a buttery wine aroma, Heymann says. Strong cheeses suppressed flavours more than milder cheeses, but flavours of all wines were suppressed. In other words, there are no magical wine and cheese pairings.

Heymann suggests that proteins in the cheese may bind to flavour molecules in the wine, or that fat from the cheese may coat the mouth, deadening the tasters' perception of the wines' flavours. The paper will appear online in March in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture.

Sursa: Editia 2535 a magazinului 'New Scientist' din 19 ianuarie 2006, pagina 16

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Anonim spunea...

Aging is the name of the game when it comes to fine wine. Top producers mature their brews in oak barrels; connoisseurs will keep a bottle in the cellar for years so they can savour the complex bouquet at its peak.

For Hiroshi Tanaka, all that waiting is just a waste of time - and he says he's got the machinery to prove it.

Tanaka claims to have perfected a machine that can transform a bottle of just-fermented Beaujolais Nouveau into a fine, mellow wine in seconds, all by zapping it with a few volts of electricity.

"We can now electrolyze young wine and ship bottles of fine wine out in no time at all," declared Tanaka, president of Japanese startup Innovative Design and Technology, which runs a small laboratory in Hamamatsu, west of Tokyo.

"Think of the savings we'll make. Shorter production time, no need for storage, no need to invest in barrels," he said.

Wine connoisseurs are skeptical of the whole idea of immediate aging, but Tanaka's company is not the only laboratory chasing instant wine. He says his method is the most advanced and a key part of the machine that accomplishes the process has been patented.

The company is in talks with wineries in the US to start providing its American. affiliate, BW2 Holdings, with young wine to treat and sell, Tanaka said. BW2 hopes to sell the bottles on the Internet later this year for an affordable US$5.

The road, however, won't be an easy one: the company has brought the machine around to Japanese wine producers, restaurants and even sake rice wine and "shochu" sweet potato spirit distillers, but so far only a small shochu maker in southern Japan has agreed to get involved.

In Europe - where viniculture is considered a sacred cornerstone of civilization - the idea of electrolyzed wine makes traditionalists blanche.

"I don't see how a machine could turn low quality wine into a magical and mature wine in seconds. I don't believe in it," said Emmanuel Delmas, Sommelier at the celebrated Fouquet's Restaurant on Paris's Champs Elysees.

Indeed, the techniques at Tanaka's laboratory are a long way from the vineyards of Bordeaux.

In the natural maturation process, the taste of wine is enhanced by the mixture of alcohol with water molecule clusters, Tanaka says.

Though the exact mechanism of water molecule clusters remain a matter of scientific debate, Tanaka claims the electrolysis treatment instantaneously breaks up water clusters in the wine, allowing the water to more thoroughly blend with the alcohol.

His company's machine is a two-chambered device roughly the size of a stereo. Wine passes through one and tap water passes through the other; a membrane the company has patented separates the two.

Platinum electrodes provide the juice, driving negative ions - the cause of acidity - from the wine into the water.

To the untrained palate, a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau 2005 strained through the machine became a more full-bodied, complex wine. Similar treatment to a Sauvignon Blanc 2004 resulted in a drier aftertaste.

The company has its eye on zapping other types of alcohol as well.

"With acceptance, we can do well anywhere - produce good wine for Europe, good sake for Japan, good vodka for Russia, good baijiu (white spirit) for China," Tanaka said. "The possibilities are endless."

On top of a faster production time, electrolyzed wine is healthier because it doesn't oxidize easily and requires no artificial anti-oxidizing agents that are present in almost all wines, according to Akihiro Hishima, another member of the development team.

"Everybody who's tried our wine agrees - this thing is revolutionary," Hishima said, swirling his wine glass and biting into a chunk of Camembert cheese.

Still, Tanaka has no illusions about overturning millennia of wine history.

"I know we'll face a lot of resistance from within the wine industry - we already have," he said, recollecting a time in 2002 the firm took a prototype of the device to a wine producer in Italy. He declined to name the producer.

"We were told to leave the room, leave the country," he recalled. "And never come back."