A modern miracle within three days that promises to turn water into wine has been created by Philip James, former CEO of the wine website Lot 18. The aptly-named Miracle Machine offers to make a 750ml bottle of wine, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The device attached with a smartphone app is involved to guide you through the winemaking process whilst monitoring progress. The app allows you to select and water and some ingredients from a list of pre-defined wine types, each listing the grape concentrates and recommended type of yeast as well as other ingredients that are required.
Described as the world’s first affordable accelerated winemaking device for the home, the £300 device is the brainchild of two wine industry veterans: Philip James, British founder and former CEO of the wine website Lot 18, and his sommelier friend Kevin Boyer. Its makers claim the results “rival some of the best wines on the planet” and will “change the face of wine production forever”.
At the heart of the miracle machine lies the fermentation chamber. Philip James explains: “Obviously we’re keeping the exact science under wraps, but we can tell you the chamber uses an array of electrical sensors, transducers, heaters and pumps to provide a controlled environment for the primary and, as needed, secondary fermentation stages. For example, while a digital refractometer measures the sugar content of the liquid during the fermentation process, a custom-designed ceramic air-diffuser pump filters air under a regulated micro-oxygenated environment, aerating the wine and thus softening the tannins. Meanwhile an ultrasonic transducer, positioned directly underneath the chamber, resonates effectively speeding up the flavour development of the wine. Each of these components, and others, are connected to an Arduino microcontroller that ensures the Miracle Machine is doing its job of making a fine wine of your creation in just a matter of days.”
The developers say the Miracle Machine will produce a quality wine for £1.20 that would normally cost at least £12. They say the idea came after “one too many glasses of wine over dinner”, and a casual remark by Philip that ‘Jesus made water into wine; with all the technology we have available today why can’t we do the same?’ The very next day they began the process of investigating whether it could be done. They spoke to their friends in Silicon Valley and explored the possibility of accelerating the winemaking process using a low amount of heat and a computer controlled environment. They also looked at the precise chemical breakdown of some of the finest wines in the world and realised that just as the scent industry is able to simulate smells, it is possible to replicate the delicate flavours of highly sought-after vintages.
Because the wine will be produced and bottled under air, not an inert gas, the wine will only keep for 1-2 weeks. However, the wine will be made to taste pre-aged so there’s no need to age it any further.
How the miracle machine works:
Simply add the concentrate and yeast into the machine, add 600 ml of water and then use the app on your smartphone to start the process. The water, concentrate and yeast sit in the Miracle Machine’s “fermentation chamber” while the Miracle Machine app monitors progress in the background. Near completion, the app will direct you to add the small sachet of finishing powder, which contains the oak and other flavors that will allow your wine to taste as if it has been aging for several months to a year. 24 hours later, the app will then notify you through an alert letting you know that your wine is ready to drink.
Kevin Boyer told Wine-Searcher: “Our Kickstarter campaign will launch in a couple of days in which we hope to secure funding for building of the first 2000 Miracle Machines. We hope to have those completed and in market by May. Currently we have a couple working prototypes that we’ve been testing with for the past few months.” Mr Boyer said that the company aimed to raise £600,000 for basic infrastructure and to create the first 2000 machines.
“You’ll be able to buy the grape concentrate, yeast, and the final sachet of ingredients through our website, and Amazon, once we launch. Each kit will make a different type of wine. We plan on creating a low cost monthly “wine” club, where for under £6 per month you receive several kits, enough to make a bottle of wine a week.