Flutterby™! : Synthesizing wine

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Synthesizing wine

2004-05-14 15:02:22.439605+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

I find Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends fascinating from a "believes more hype than Wired" standpoint, with the occasional nugget of "that's cool".

Back in the late multimedia boom days there were several companies in the U.S. that claimed to have discovered the "primary colors" of scent, and were gearing up to market computer peripherals that would give the web (or whatever) smell. Well, Roland informs us that they're back: Delicate aroma of wine from a computer near you.

Which is a pretty damned amazing way to sell your product, "we can take on years of tradition and culture and maybe even a bit of science and duplicate a process which takes a huge long time and costs a lot, for a few dollars on your desktop".

This is either something truly spectacular which will revolutionize food science, or a spectacular example of total marketing idiocy.

[ related topics: Food Current Events Wines and Spirits Marketing ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-05-14 15:55:36.417104+00 by: Johnny

More like the latter, frankly.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-05-14 16:40:40.682241+00 by: Shawn

Why do you think so? Is it because wine scents (and the evaluation thereof) are a subtle art, or because you think the technology is pointless/useless/?

#Comment Re: made: 2004-05-14 18:10:42.993846+00 by: Dan Lyke

Although there are quite a few companies which claimed to have the breakthrough and failed, I could believe that someone managed to discover how to synthesize scents in this manner.

However, starting by taking this technology to the wine industry, with as much lore and prejudice and arrogance and reliance on tradition as it has, seems doomed to failure. Because synthesizing taste is relatively simple, so when you say you can synthesize smell such that you can simulate the nose of wines, what you're saying is "given some pure grain alcohol and distilled water and a $50 device we can synthesize your choice of Bordeauxs".

That may be true, but to an industry that relies heavily upon image and phrases like "everybody knows", and whose bow to objective measurement is to rely upon the opinions of one self-appointed taste arbiter, that's going to be a damned hard sell.

So it sounds to me more like someone's trying to drum up investment interest than has actually discovered a market.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-05-18 20:45:58.917907+00 by: Johnny

2 reasons why I think this is preposterous: 1- while chemists have gotten many artificial flavors (say, strawberry)down reasonably well, a realistic artificial taste is the results of dozens (if not more) of chemicals mixed in varying amounts. SO to be able to reproduce subtleties of one burgundy versus another, you'd need to figure out their chemical composition in great details, then be able to re-synthesize them with your scent gizmo. The costs involved seem to me an astronomical multiple of any benefit you might possibly reap. 2- Who wants to spend their day smelling their computer ?