It is a claim that will make sommeliers and amateur wine-lovers everywhere balk, but a San Fransisco startup has said it can make fine wines… without using grapes.
The California startup Ava Winery has claimed it can "hack" wine-making by building it on a compound-by-compound basis, adding together amino acids, sugars, volatile organics, ethanol and other ingredients at "precise levels" in a strictly-regimented brewing process.
Touted as "[t]he world's first designer wines", Ava Winery claims it has made a replica of the 1992 Dom Perignon Champagne made with "no grapes, yeast, or fermentation".
Original bottles retail for over $200, while Ava Winery's are currently on the market for a quarter of the price at $50, appealing to those who cannot afford pricey vintages.
"We can turn water into wine in 15 minutes," Ava Winery's founders Mardonn Chua and Alec Lee told New Scientist.
In a blog post, Chua explains how before setting up the company he spent a weekend experimenting with around 15 different formulations of wine using supplies such as tartaric acid, malic acid, tannin powder, vegetable glycerin, ethanol and sucrose, and adding flavour compounds to mimic traditionally-brewed wine.
The power of technology, or at least chemistry, could still win out. But wine enthusiasts might still be sceptical.