Technological advancements seem to occur every day in all types of industries, and the alcohol business is no exception. To name a few recent examples, we recently welcomed a new version of beer pong and a new personal brewing system. Now it’s time to introduce yet another advancement in the alcohol industry, and this time it is has to do with wine.
Iowa State professor and self-proclaimed “connoisseur of wine,” Daniel Attinger, has created what he calls a “micro winery”. His invention can continuously ferment grapes and produce wine at a rate of one milliliter per hour. What’s the point? To help winemakers fine-tune their wine batches.
So it’s pretty obvious that not much wine is going to be produced at such an astonishingly slow rate. But the fact that wine can be produced so quickly is what is so amazing about this technology. Wine makers typically have to wait weeks at a time to separate the yeast from the wine just so they can taste a batch and make tweaks to the fermentation process. With the new micro winery, which uses small quantities of liquid and variable levels of heat, that taste test can happen within an hour.
Attinger’s invention will allow winemakers to better understand the specific impact that hundreds of yeasts available around have in the fermentation wine. Wine producers can also better understand how different types of fermentation processes work. (Some processes use lower temperatures and some use higher temperatures, so if a wine maker can test multiple different heat levels throughout a single day, he or she can figure out what works best, and quickly.)
It isn’t just a useful innovation—like taking a glimpse into the oven while cookies are baking. It’s incredibly timely. With climate change making grapes ripen earlier, wine production methods have been forced to change. A “micro distillery” could help wine makers around the world better navigate the new terrain. (Or terroir.)