A personalized blend of wine made by a robot might soon be yours for just a few thousand dollars (wine not included).
On Nov. 2, Cambridge Consultants, a product development and technology consultancy firm, announced a new winemaking gadget called Vinfusion. It’s a keg-shaped, tablet-guided machine that promises all the magic of the food-making microwave in “Spy Kids,” but for wine.
Put simply, Vinfusion allows everyday people to play winemaker. VinePair is all for that — we even have a guide for how to make your own Bordeaux-style blend. But instead of guessing the amount of each wine type you should put into your homemade blend, Vinfusion does it for you.
It all starts with a tablet. The hypothetical uber-rich wine drinker (or a thirsty friend of an uber-rich owner) makes a few choices — like full or light-bodied, dry or sweet. The answers are passed through a flavor algorithm, and a blend of the “perfect wine” is spit out of the tap.
Based on an analysis of the chemical makeup of a selection of different wines, Cambridge Consultants determined “what imparted the most distinctive characteristics,” according to a press release. Based on this analysis, they chose a set of four base wines from which the Vinfusion system will deliver “hundreds of different flavors on demand.”
“Blending wines to achieve a certain flavor or aroma has been around for centuries and this is at the heart of Vinfusion,” Sajith Wimalaratne, a manager at Cambridge Consultants, says in the press release. “One of the challenges is understanding the complex relationship between the taste and the proportions of the blended wines.”
Daniel Cooper, a writer for Engadget, had a chance to test a Vinfusion for himself before its Nov. 8 debut. He asked for a medium-bodied dry wine from a blend of Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Merlot and Muscat. Vinfusion took the wines from its underbelly, blended them and aerated them in a glass container before letting the robot empty its creation into Cooper’s glass. Cooper was impressed, even though he ended up with something like a Pinot Noir after the tablet told him he had asked for a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Technology isn’t always the devil in the winery. In many cases, it improves wine to the nth degree. A wine-blending machine takes that technology one step further. If you want a blend without the cost of the robot, that’s what skilled — human — winemakers are for.