Engineers have built a device that automatically blends wine to the user’s taste, letting them customize their tipple based on simple terms like full-bodied or light, dry or sweet. Matthew Stock reports.
Matthew Stock: It’s a device that may have wine aficionados spluttering into their claret. Vinfusion is a robotic sommelier that helps you blend a glass of wine to your specific taste. It’s pre-loaded with four distinct base wines that can be mixed together into hundreds of new flavor combinations.
SAJITH WIMALARATNE, FOOD AND BEVERAGE COMMERCIAL MANAGER AT CAMBRIDGE CONSULTANTS: “We took about 30-odd wines into the lab and analysed the chemical profile of those individual wines… we narrowed it down to four base wines; these are a Chilean Pinot Noir, a Chilean Merlot, an Australian Shiraz and a French sweet wine which is a Muscat. And we chose these wines to represent the extremes of the flavour space that we developed.”
Matthew Stock: Using simple terms like full-bodied or light, and dry or sweet the user simply adjusts the parameters on a sliding scale. Vinfusion also makes recommendations based on the wine you’ve created.
ANDREW STRATTON, FLUIDS AND MECHANICAL ENGINEER AT CAMBRIDGE CONSULTANTS: “I’m going to blend my own wine. So I’m going to have quite a full-bodied wine, pretty soft and fairly sweet. And it says that this wine is similar to a ruby port. And now I’m going to blend this wine; so you can see we’ve got four wines blending in the chamber here, they’re coming in the top and they’re also being aerated to open up the bouquet of the wine, just as you would open a red wine for a while before you drink it.”
Matthew Stock: The wine dispensed – while certainly quaffable – would be unlikely to pass muster with serious wine lovers. The makers deliberately chose base wines priced around the 10-dollars the average consumer spend on a bottle.
SAJITH WIMALARATNE: “Wine is a complex beverage. And a lot of people just tend to stick to one or two that they know. But what we wanted to do was actually make this amazing range of wines out there, and make it more accessible to the consumer.”
Matthew Stock: Winemaking is steeped in history, largely defying technological interference. Vinfusion could, in theory, be loaded with finer wines producing a higher quality beverage. For wine snobs, however, any Vinfusion vintage might just be too unpalatable.