Friday, June 30, 2006

Soften your tannins with... magnets?

What will they think of next? A California company, Inventive Technologies Inc., is marketing a pouring spout - the "BevWizard Wine Enhancer" - which they claim will take the edge off of rough, young, tannic wines. The $30 BevWizard apparently works using powerful magnets embedded into a plastic pouring spout which is inserted into the neck of a wine bottle. Only the wine that is poured through the BevWizard is "altered." The company claims that wines poured though the BevWizard are exposed to high-intensity magnetic fields that render the wine softer, fruitier, and seemingly more aged. (The company also has a disclaimer that the magnets in the device are extremely powerful and can affect pacemakers, credit cards, cell phones, TV's, etc.) There's an interesting article in the LA Times about this device, and its inventor- a California physician.

I consulted with Norman Latner (my dad), who worked for over 40 years for the US Department of Energy as an electrical engineer, and is something of a magnet expert. I was hoping that he could debunk the idea that a magnetized pouring spout could affect the taste of wine, but although he had many concerns about the device, he felt that he's not enough of a wine connoisseur to debate the testimonials in the LA Times article. "This device flies in the face of common sense and scientific knowledge that a magnet would have an effect on tannins in wine," he said. And, despite the company mentioning that there is a patent on the device, there was no further information or patent number provided. "I would have been happier seeing a real reference to the patent," said Norman. The magnets used in the device, according to the company's website, are "Neodymium" magnets -- according to Norman, there is nothing special about "neodymium" magnets, except their size. They are the only magnets that would fit in a device so small, and are commonly used in things such as electric toothbrushes. Even if there were something special about the magnets, Norm went on to question whether the wine is actually in contact with them for long enough to make a difference. "It only takes a few seconds to pour several ounces of wine," he said. He also pointed out that similar products are being sold for the gas lines of cars, with claims that the magnets alter the large molecules of gasoline, allowing the car to run farther on a tank of gas. These claims, he pointed out, have been debunked by Consumer Reports and others.

Could the BevWizard possibly work? Norm couldn't say conclusively that it couldn't, but he advised that a more sensible system would be a magnetic stirring wand with holes in it to create aeration of the wine. "A magnetic stirrer," he said "would be in contact with the wine for a longer period than a spout, and the holes would introduce oxygen into the wine." When I asked him to consider taking a patent out on this idea however, he declined.

Thank you to Bruce B. for finding this article for me, and to my dad for his comments.


Blogger knowlengr said...

Where is the double blind test? Perhaps the wine tasters became momentarily confused by a nice Russian River concoction and imagined themselves to be chemists.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Keya said...

Magnets are more powerful than we knew from the textbooks and they are also powerful than you know, the
neodymium magnets in particular.

2:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home