What we are looking at here is either a bit of a hyperbole or the wine version of that lady who tamed Helen Keller and taught her to communicate. It's called the Miracle Machine. It asserts itself as the world's first affordable winemaking device for the home. In addition, the Machine, a stylish fermentation chamber designed in the minimalist image of a wine bottle, will produce wine quickly, inexpensively, and with minimal effort. Anyone--maybe even Helen Keller--will be able to use it.
Wine industry veterans Kevin Boyer and Philip James have combined Silicon Valley tech with Napa Valley oeno-enthusiasm to develop the Miracle Machine. Would-be winemakers will be able to use a mobile app to guide them through every step of the process, plus as as monitor of the wine's progress. From start to finish, a toothsome bottle requires just 5 steps, 3 days, and about $2 for an equivalent that would cost at least $20 at the store.
Hmmm. I wonder how wine snobs are going to receive the Miracle Machine. I sense a potential revolt of screw-top bottle and "fine" boxed wine proportions coming on....
Miracle Machine Components & the Winemaking Process
At the beginning of the process, the Miracle Machine app prompts winemakers to select from a list of pre-defined wine types. Each lists the grape concentrates and recommended type of yeast, plus additional ingredients required for fermentation and flavor development. Once a varietal is chosen, the concentrate and yeast go into the machine with 600 ml of water, and the app starts the transformation. It monitors the water, concentrate, and yeast sitting in the Miracle Machine's "fermentation chamber" and, as the wine nears completion, directs users to add a small sachet of finishing powder to develop oak and other flavors that will elicit a months-aged taste in the wine. 24 hours later, the app will send an alert that the wine is ready to drink.
All grape concentrates and yeasts will be part of a Miracle Machine supply line, which will initially consist of 6 wine types. These include a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, a rich Chardonnay from Napa Valley, a cool climate Pinot Noir from Oregon, an aged Tuscan blend from Italy, a Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma, and a delicate red and a steely white from Burgundy. Boyer and James expect to add 5 to 10 more over the next 3 months. Those who buy a Miracle Machine will receive their first batch of concentrates and yeast with the order as part of the package selling price.
The Science Behind the Miracle Machine
Most of the magic happens in the Miracle Machine's fermentation chamber, a container driven by electrical sensors, transducers, heaters, and pumps that maintain a controlled environment for primary and secondary fermentation stages. As an example, Boyer and James provide the following scenario:
...while a digital refractometer measures the sugar content of the liquid during the fermentation process, a custom-designed ceramic air-diffuser pumps filtered 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 flavor 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.
Buy a Miracle Machine
At printing, the Miracle Machine was planning to launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Interested partied can sign up for notification of the campaign's launch date on the Miracle Machine Website.
March 13, 2014 Update: It turns out the Miracle Machine, henceforth known as the Crock Machine, was a big hoax to collect emails so the company could blast those who signed up with information about Wine for Water. Wine for Water is a non-profit organization endeavoring to supply people around the globe with clean drinking water. Puh. What a ruse. A ruse to garner support for a legitimate charity. I bet it worked too. Puh. Crafty Miracle Machine jerks.