Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Wine Jip Revisited

The makers of the Wine Clip have changed their description of how the device operates on their website. They used to say…

“When wine passes through a magnetic field, a physical change occurs. The magnetic field has an effect on tannins which are suspended in the wine. The tannins are broken down into smaller tannins. We believe that the taste of many small tannin molecules is smoother than the taste of fewer large tannin molecules.”
…and…

“There is absolutely no chemical change and nothing is introduced or taken away from the wine. It's the physical change which accounts for the enhanced flavor and bouquet.”
I pointed out when I wrote before on this subject that a chemical change in the tannins is actually required. The benefit of aging is the result of chemical reactions that occur in the wine over time. To have the same effect, the Wine Clip would have to accelerate those chemical changes, and accelerated chemical reactions in the wine would most certainly be detectable with modern technology.

Needless to say, the Wine Clip’s manufacturers have never produced any evidence that their magnets cause rapid chemical reactions in wine as it’s poured. Apparently they got so much negative email about their claims since James Randi first publicized them back in August 2004 that they decided a rewrite was necessary.

Now they say…

“Using magnets to treat fluids – water, fuel, wine, etc. - is not a new idea, and the technology has been applied successfully in many industries. What causes the effect has been the subject of some debate, but it is generally thought that passing a conductive fluid through a properly designed magnetic field has an effect on the polar molecules in the fluid.

In wine, it is believed that the large, polymerized tannins in wine that normally result in a high degree of astringency are broken up or otherwise affected, resulting in a less astringent, ‘softer’ flavor.”


When in doubt, just make your claim more vague and remove any testable statements. The new explanation is no less bogus than the old. Tannins are large, organic molecules held together by covalent bonds, meaning that adjacent atoms share some electrons. This differentiates them from ionicly bonded compounds like salt, in which one atom essentially steals an electron from the other and the atoms stick together by electromagnetic attraction.

Big organic molecules like tannins aren’t usually “polar”, meaning that shared electrons tend to spend more time in one part of the molecule, so it tends to be positively charged at one end and negative at the other. Even if they were, they’re immersed in a solution of other polar molecules: specifically water molecules. Immersion in other polar molecules would prevent any “clumping” of tannins even if they are polar. Consequently, a magnetic field wouldn’t have any “large, polymerized tannins” to break up.

The Wine Jip’s new description is just an effort to back-pedal from an obvious falsehood to a vague, unsupported claim. An example-free reference to industrial use of magnets to treat fluids and an “it is believed” statement that doesn’t identify who makes the claim round out the new, worthless explanation of the Wine Clip’s operating principles.

Buy a Wine Clip if you want one, but you’ll be getting a $40 refrigerator magnet; it won’t have any real effect on the taste of wine.

2 comments:

Tom said...

Thank you for the article.
My freind wants to move her wine distribution business into a building very near high power electric lines.
The Gauss reading inside the building is from 2 to 4 milliGauss.
She needs to know if the electromagnetic field will spoil her wines?
Can you please help us with an answer?
Thank you.
Tom Goebel
at tomEgoebel@Gmail.com

Lord Runolfr said...

Tom,

For much the same reason that the Wine Clip would have no effect on wine, electrical transmission lines shouldn't have any effect either. Wine simply doesn't have any properties that would be affected. Her wines are safe.

Runolfr