The Elemental Magic of Winemaking Is Different Than Baby Making
I take a certain comfort in the fact that Arthur C’s adage is entirely unlikely to apply to wine. And that’s a good thing because I think it applies to nearly everything else from entertainment to baby making.
Sitting on the couch yesterday I looked up at my 4k Ultra, 60 inch TV screen and was entirely struck by how completely different its image is from the screen I grew up with and watched Walter Cronkite read the news, Willie Mays play center field and the Professor making the most outlandish use of coconuts. “Magic” is really the most apt description.
I then sat and started reading a new story about Cambridge University researchers and scientists who had created the first self-developing mice embryo out of stem cells:
“The transformation of a fertilized egg into a tiny living embryo ranks among nature’s most impressive feats. Now scientists have replicated this critical step towards a new life for the first time, growing an artificial mouse embryo from stem cells in the lab.
The cells, grown outside the body in a blob of gel, were shown to morph into primitive embryos that perfectly replicated the internal structures that emerge during normal development in the womb.
While the artificial embryo closely resembled the real thing, the researchers said it is unlikely that it would develop further into a healthy foetus. This would require the addition of the yolk sac, which provides nourishment for the embryo and within which a network of blood vessel develops.
The Cambridge team is now hoping to create similar artificial embryos with human cells.
Magic! Simple magic. And anyone who doubts we will learn how to create that artificial human yolk sac so that human babies can be “developed” outside the womb just isn’t worth talking to.
Still, it’s all a little artificial isn’t it. But then there is wine.
Whether grown in a giant test tube or in artificially augmented soil or in alien soil, the grapes still need to be squished and their juice fermented. It has been this way for 1000s of years already. The new, modern winemaking technology might thrill the ancients, but they would still recognize the job it does of squishing, crushing, and holding the fermenting juice.
It’s comforting. And this seemingly elemental truth about fermented fruit is likely one of the things that has the power to attract some of us to wine in such a forceful way.
Still, it is fun to imagine how winemaking and wine will change 100 years on. Surely there will be far more efficient ways to husband the grapes to maturity. Perhaps through some miracle of biology the grapes will be brought to ripeness in days rather than months. Perhaps ferments will happen in moments. Perhaps vines will never again be molested by pests. Who knows.
But while it seems we will likely consume entertainment that surrounds us in perfect 360 degree definition rather than in front of us in mere 4K Ultra definition, and while we may watch our children grow and develop in a home-maintained vessel of magic sauce, I think we are likely to be forced to squish and ferment grapes.