Does Microwaving Wine Improve Quality? It Might Sound Strange, But One Scientist Says Yes

By Philip Ross on September 20, 2013 1:23 PM EDT

wine microwave
Can putting wine in the microwave improve its flavor? (Photo: Creative Commons)

Wine connoisseurs everywhere will probably have to pick their jaws up off the floor after they read this. A researcher from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture in Australia is using a microwave to improve the flavor of pinot noir, MSN reports.

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The researcher, Anna Carew, noted that for centuries, French winemakers have used fire to extract color from grapes. The process works by loosening the cells of crushed grapes, drawing more flavor and more tannins from them. Carew wanted to know if she could achieve the same results with a microwave.

"I guess that some wine makers would find it is quite counter to traditional wine making practices," she told ABC News in Australia. "But for the winemakers who are interested in innovation, they have been really excited by it."

While Carew was hesitant to give away the details of her process, she did say it's more involved than just popping a glass of wine in the microwave. And it's actually crushed grapes she's heating up, not wine.  

"What the microwaving process does is it very rapidly extracts the color out of the skins and into the juice," she said. The result? A wine that is darker than the control glass and that, according to ABC News, has more tannins and more flavor.

If microwaving wine sounds like a strange idea, it's actually not all that novel. An article in the New York Times from 1999 noted that sommeliers will often heat restaurant patrons' red wine in a microwave just a few degrees, usually per the customer's request. Some sommeliers even swore it added five years of age to the wine.

"The practice is by no means widespread, or even widely known, but it is something that happens at even the top restaurants," The Times noted.

''The microwaves are heating the water, which is the main constituent of wine,'' Christian E. Butzke, an enologist at the University of California at Davis, told The Times. ''If you do that for a very brief period -- 10 seconds maximum -- no other chemical reactions are going to take place, and nothing will be destroyed.''

Wine Lovers Page agrees. If a wine has been refrigerated, a practice that can slow the deterioration of an opened bottle of red, it can be a good idea to pop a glass of it in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.

If you're going to put your wine in the microwave, just be careful about not leaving it in there for too long. You don't want this to happen.

Read more from iScience Times:

Wine Lowers Risk Of Depression: Study Finds Drinking In Moderation Could Chase Your Blues Away

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Wine Lowers Risk Of Depression: Study Finds Drinking In Moderation Could Chase Your Blues Away

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