Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

In his column for the New York Times Dining section, Harold McGee investigates whether various products on the market (and materials in his kitchen) can improve the taste of wine. Most wine-science products are based on pseudoscience, McGee concludes, and do no better for your quaff than letting it sit in a decanter for an hour or so. Worse still, they cost as much as, well, a lot of good wine. Aerating the wine by agitating it can soften the flavor, McGee writes, but oxygen reacts with compounds in the wine very slowly. Dipping pennies, a carbon steel knife, and other metals in wine caused its voltage to go up (yes, McGee measured it) but didn’t improve its flavor.

The coolest tip in the article comes from Andrew Waterhouse, a professor of enology at the University of California, Davis. If your wine gets corked, leaving it with a dank flavor that makes it unsuitable even for cooking, you can pour it into a bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap.

“It’s kind of messy, but very effective in just a few minutes,” he said. The culprit molecule in infected corks, 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, is chemically similar to polyethylene and sticks to the plastic.

McGee is the author of the classic guide to food science On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. For more on the science of wine, read our 2007 article on the sequencing of the pinot noir genome.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Materials, food science, wine

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me