Posted By Drew Vics on June 8, 2010
Cryptobrewology will pull no punches when it comes to defending the world of beer and wine from crackpots who attempt to make a quick buck at the expense of those who fall victim to pseudoscience and snake oil salesmen of the twenty-first century. Charlatans have found their way into the world of wine. Is beer next? It had better not be.
Cryptobrewology was recently followed on Twitter by Art of Brewing, a company located in British Columbia (Not the Art of Brewing online Superstore in the UK). They serve Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and specialize in “on-site beer and wine making” which is a sort of novelty approach to making your own beer or wine. I won’t bark at that because the practice does introduce the general public to home beer and wine making, and can serve to spread appreciation of these hobbies.
What I will bark at is the “Magnetic Oak Barrel Aging” device I discovered while perusing their website. This is also the reason I will not return the Twitter follow to Art of Brewing. I will not associate with any company that I find is either deliberately or inadvertently deceiving the public.
These are modern snake oil salesmen! It’s nothing more than marketing quackery to make a buck. Their advertisement claims, “Just pouring wine through the magnetic field of the barrel makes the wine smoother, like it’s been aged…” and, “…as you pour, the magnetic field aligns the molecules and attracts oxygen.”
NOTICE: There is not a shred of scientific evidence to support these claims, and testing that has been done clearly shows that these products don’t work. The results are nothing more than you would expect with chance.
If retailers like Art of Brewing really believe this nonsense then they are fooling themselves, and should spend some time examining the validity of claims made by the product manufacturer and sales associate, before promoting it to, and misleading their visitors.
Skeptical Wine-Lovers to the Rescue
Based on a double blind taste test of wine poured through a similar product, Patrick Farrell’s Bev Wizard (which just sounds stupid to begin with, and almost as stupid as “Magnetic Oak Barrel Aging”), a panel of wine-loving skeptics in Australia concluded that their “results would seem to contradict the claim that magnets transform cheap plonk into a fuller, better tasting wine.”
Their entertaining report can be read at UnDeceivingOurselves.com
This BS is not new folks. Unfortunately the continuation of such nonsense indicates that people are being duped, and these things are turning a profit for their unscrupulous marketers.
The general claim is that tannins present in wine can be altered to make the wine taste smoother, as if it was instantly aged. That’s a tall order for a small static magnet sitting on the neck of a wine bottle. In fact, wouldn’t the effect of any magnetic field be cancelled as soon as the substances had passed out of range of the magnet? Hmmm…
Bev Wizard proponents claim that the magnetic field causes small, astringent tannin molecules to bond into large, “softer” tannin molecules, creating a less harsh tasting experience. Keep trying.
This is a mangled translation of the traditional concept that the aging of red wines allows tannins to bond, and settle out, thereby creating a less astringent flavor. It is commonly understood that the longer wine sits, the smoother it gets. It does happen, but it has not been scientifically proven that this tannin bonding idea is the cause. In fact, the real effects of aging on wine are still a bit of a mystery.
Oxygenation is also thought to improve the mouthfeel of wine, but, unlike a little magnet hanging around the neck of a bottle, oxygenation involves a real chemical manipulation of the wine as it is being poured, and so likely does have a real effect on the taste.
So, the position of Cryptobrewology on magnetic devices to instantly age your wine, like the “Magnetic Oak Barrel Aging System” offered by Art of Brewing is claimed to do, is that such devices are a kin to homeopathy, a waste of resources, a waste of money, and an unnecessary burden of waste for our environment. These go hand in hand with every other nonsense novelty that has been and will be.
The manufacture and sale of such devices, without proper scientific testing to validate the claim, should be considered a punishable criminal act, because without real proof to support the promotional claims for the product they are selling, these people are little more than thieves.
Would this device turn an IPA into a regular Pale Ale? I shudder at the thought.