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This Company's Chemically Crafted Wine Blends Knock Off Pricier Bottles

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A new wine company called Replica is betting that most people care a lot more about taste than labels. Using chemical analysis, Replica makes knockoff wines that taste similar to more expensive brands—the drinking equivalent of buying CVS-brand ibuprofen instead of Advil. 

“We ensure at least 90 percent chemical similarity to the wine by which each was inspired, in notes such as acid, butter, caramel, citrus, earthy, floral, fruity, herbal, nutty, oaky, smoky, spicy, sweet and tannic,” the president of the lab that crafts the copycats for Replica explains in a press release. Replica aims to offer wines for 25 to 50 percent less than the wines they’re knocking off. 

Wine is a little more complicated than generic drugs, though, considering the taste is influenced by growing conditions, climate, and the soil of particular vineyards. So how identical can a reproduction be? Following Replica’s instructions for a blind taste test, mental_floss put the company’s claims on trial, comparing pricier wine with its chemically similar Replica equivalent—one of eight varieties the company calls “masterful reproductions of expensive, admired wines.” 

We tried Replica’s Pickpocket, a red blend that retails for around $25, along with its inspiration, a bottle of The Prisoner Wine Company’s 2014 red blend ($45 on wine.com). Six of mental_floss’ finest connoisseurs tasted three unmarked glasses (OK, plastic cups), two filled with Replica wine, and one filled with The Prisoner, guessing which one was the more expensive wine. 

Five of six testers thought one of the glasses of Replica wine was from the more expensive bottle. But that wasn’t exactly a good thing. No one particularly liked either wine—even the $45 red blend. One tester described the Replica blend as tasting “almost corked,” while another described it as appropriate for a happy hour special. There were similarities in the flavors of both wines, but the Replica wine was a bit sweeter and tasted rougher compared to its inspiration. “Full in a bad way,” as one staffer referred to it.

While Replica’s Pickpocket wasn’t undrinkable, neither did it taste like a $25 bottle, much less a $45 one, although we should note that no one at mental_floss is a sommelier. If you put it on the table during a dinner party, you wouldn’t be fooling any of your guests into thinking you’d splurged on a nice bottle, as the company suggests.

We can only speak to one varietal of the company’s wines, and perhaps the issue here was more about people disliking the wine that served as the inspiration for the budget-priced imposter. The company’s Knockoff chardonnay retails for less than $11, and its Just Right cabernet sauvignon retails for less than $13—both price points at which a rough taste might not be so disappointing. 

All images courtesy of Replica

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7 Surprising Uses for Tequila
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Happy National Tequila Day! While you could celebrate by having a few drinks, you could also skip the hangover by unlocking one of tequila's amazing abilities outside of a glass. Many spirits are useful for activities beyond sipping (vodka, for example, is a great stain and odor remover), but tequila holds some particularly magical powers. Here are just a few of them.

1. SYNTHETIC BAUBLE

In 2008, a team of scientists in Mexico discovered that when the heated vapor from an 80-proof tequila blanco was combined with a silicon or stainless steel substrate, it resulted in the formation of diamond films. These films can be used in commercial applications, such as electrical insulators, or to create one big fake diamond. Who knew that spending $50 on a bottle of Don Julio was such a wise investment?

2. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCE

Keeping with the science theme: In 2011, researchers at England’s University of Oxford suggested that we may one day be gassing up our cars with tequila. They identified agave, the plant from which tequila is produced, as a potential biofuel source—and a particularly attractive one, as the plant itself is not consumed by humans and can thrive in desert climates.

3. WEIGHT LOSS SUPPLEMENT

Scientists have long promoted the potential benefits of the agave plant for its ability to help dissolve fats and lower cholesterol. The bad news? These properties get a bit diluted when the plant is distilled into alcohol. Even more so when it's whipped into a sugary margarita.

4. SLEEP AID

Take three or more shots of tequila and you’re bound to pass out. A single shot can have the same effect—just not in that drunken stupor kind of way. Relaxation is one of the positive side effects of tequila drinking; a small amount (1 to 1.5 ounces) before bedtime can reportedly help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

5. COLON CLEANSER

Too much of a good thing may not bring a welcome turn of events for your liver … but your colon will thank you! Researchers at Mexico’s University of Guadalajara have identified the blue agave as a potentially helpful source for delivering drugs to the colon in order to treat colitis, IBS, Crohn’s disease and even cancer.

6. DIABETES PREVENTATIVE

If Ernest Hemingway had known about the healing properties of tequila, his signature drink might have been a margarita instead of a daiquiri. In 2010, experiments conducted at Mexico’s Polytechnic Institute of Guanajuato revealed that the agave plant (which is high in fructans, a fructose polymer) could stimulate the GLP-1 hormone, aiding in increased insulin production.

7. COLD REMEDY

“Plenty of liquids” is a well-known remedy for getting oneself out from under the weather. But expanding that definition to include a kicked-up shot of tequila makes a day laid out on the couch sound much more appealing. In the 1930s, doctors in Mexico recommended the following concoction to fight off a cold.

.5 ounce of tequila blanco
.5 ounce of agave nectar (to eliminate bacteria and soothe sore throats)
.5 ounce of fresh lime juice (for Vitamin C) 

Though some people (including tequila companies) swear by its healing powers, others say it's hogwash.

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What's the Kennection? #158
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