No wine before its time?
Good news for you oenophiles out there. That bottle of young Vino Novello you just bought that won't be great for 10 or 20 years? A Japanese inventor may have found a way to mature that wine a little faster -- like in a few seconds. Hiroshi Tanaka has developed an electrolysis chamber that zaps with a slight charge, which breaks up water molecules and forces them to blend more completely with the alcohol. Wine does that on its own, of course, -- the water molecules slowly rearrange themselves around the alcohol to give the wine a "mature" taste -- it just takes about 100 million times longer than Tanaka's process.
Of course, in the tradition-bound world of winemaking, such innovations are sure to be met with a healthy decanter of skepticism. (When he presented his process to an Italian winemaker in 2002, he says, "We were told to leave the room, leave the country and never come back.") But with wine consumption in the U.S. on the rise -- having recently surpassed beer consumption for the first time ever in 2005 -- demand for fine wine is sure to outstrip supply. So you can stake your vines on it: we haven't tasted the last of Mr. Tanaka and his, er, shockingly good wines.