Wine’s Imitation Game

winery labMy Three Quarks Daily column this month considers the possible future in which great wines like a 1982 Lafite Rothschild can be reverse engineered and manufactured at a fraction of the cost of the original. Is that a wine world you want to live in?

2 comments

  1. Once again I will raise the comparison with music. 150 years ago you needed to find an orchestra to hear a symphony. Now al you need is a phone. Is it the same experience? Nope. But I don’t think many people would say that they don’t want to live in a world where they cannot listen to the music they want when they want and where they want—for almost no money at all.

    Do we run the risk of losing the musicians who play such music? You bet we do. But that isn’t the question you’re asking.

    And while I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be a big customer of Chateau Faux Brion, I can easily see how such re-engineered wines–if truly affordable and close to accurate–might get used for many different scenarios, including my classes.

    Would you want ot live in a world where rare gems could be manufactured to near perfection for a fraction of the cost of the real thing? Oh, wait—we already do that.

  2. Hi Paul,
    Agreed. It seems to me hypothetically there are two scenarios. One is a world in which all wine is manufactured so there is no connection between wine and climate, region, etc. That strikes me as a great loss. But that is not analogous to the current situation in music where you can still hear music live if you want.

    However, the second scenario is more likely and more acceptable. Some rare, expensive wines are reverse engineered because there is a market for them. That is a good thing because as it stands those wines are now unavailable for most of us. And commercial wines are manufactured because of cost efficiencies and the customers don’t care. But there is still a substantial market for terroir-driven wines which are also widely available. That is analogous to the situation with music. Live music when you want it; replica music when necessary. Sounds good to me.

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