Pocket Micro Winery Can Produce an Endless Stream of Wine
A micro winery that fits in your pocket sounds insanely impossible, but it actually exists—and it’s one of the latest innovations in the winemaking industry.
Iowa State University professor and self-proclaimed wine connoisseur Daniel Attinger developed a micro-winery-in-a-chip—a miniature device that ferments and produces wine continuously. Essentially, the small device could produce an endless supply of wine.
Before you go out and lay on the couch waiting for your drink to drip, know that endless does not directly mean the container is always full. The microchip is only capable of pumping out about a millilitre of wine every hour. If you’re patient enough, though, you could have a glass every other day.
Works like a Tea Bag
The micro winery chip has a main channel where grape juice is pushed through. Yeast is placed in adjacent chambers that feed into the main channel through thin membrane holes (called nanopores).
They almost work like tea bags. When the grape juice reaches the yeast, sugar is absorbed, and alcohol and carbon dioxide is released. Voilà!, you have wine.
Surprisingly, the process is simple, and works quickly as well—especially since the sugar and yeast are confined in a really tight and small compartment in the chip.
Combating Climate Change
An infinite stream of wine is basically heaven for wine lovers, but that’s not exactly why the micro-winery-in-a-chip was invented. It wasn’t created so you could conveniently reach for your pocket to get a microchip that ultimately gets you drunk on a daily basis.
Interestingly, Attinger’s concept was a result of climate change.
“Climate change is having an impact on the quality of grape crops around the world. Due to the heat, some crops ripen too quickly, the harvest takes place sooner, and the wines end up with higher alcohol content or a different taste,” said Attinger via a press release published by École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
His idea was that an extremely tiny object would quickly identify the most excellent temperatures and yeasts for fermentation processes.
Traditionally, alcoholic fermentation takes around 7-21 days and requires large volumes of liquid, which is one of the reasons creating the best wines is a time-consuming process. Since the micro-winery-in-a-chip uses only small amounts of liquid and produces results in less than an hour, it allows winemakers to explore and test hundreds of other flavours and yeasts around the world more efficiently. Plus, because of its small size, temperatures could be increased or decreased quickly when necessary.
Not as Fine as You Think
Wine lovers are probably tempted to get themselves a micro-winery-in-a-chip for a dose of their own fine wine. However, Philippe Renaud, head of EPFL’s Microsystems Laboratory said, “…that’s more of a gimmick. It uses a simplified process and the result is currently not as good as normal wine.”
Apparently, you may drink the wine, but it wouldn’t be the fine wine you expect it to be.
The micro-winery-in-a-chip is definitely a promising innovation that still has a long way to go. In fact, it has already attracted the attention of some of the top winemaking schools in the world.
With the advances in technology, who knows what lies in the future of winemaking? But for now, unless you don’t mind waiting an hour to drink a millilitre of experimental wine, perhaps you should leave the nonstop wine stream chip to the wine experts and winemakers.