• Johnny 5 is alive ... and he wants to taste your wine. Well, he doesn't necessarily want to taste it so much as he wants to fire an infrared laser through it and tell you what you're drinking and what foods you should pair with it. The new Health and Food Advice Robot (seriously, that's its name… Know what would have been better? Anything!) was created in Japan by NEC System Technologies and Mie University, based on technology created for the 21st Century Robot Challenge Program. The rather cute green-and-white robot--think the love child of R2-D2 and a Teletubby--uses an infrared sensor in its arm to analyze a food or beverage sample and identify it based on the different wavelengths of light that are reflected or absorbed. The robotic sommelier--come on scientists, say it with us: "SomBot"--can also be programmed to identify wines a particular person might enjoy and recommend other varieties. No news yet on whether the robot will be available to the general public or how much it'll cost, though we have to be honest here: We're all for building a better mousetrap, but Unfiltered just thinks some "tasks" are best performed with the gifts we were born with.
|Thankfully, the wine won't turn chunky like milk does.|
• First Napa showed it could compete with Bordeaux, then Sonoma showed that it could measure up to Burgundy. But maybe that's just the tip of the iceberg. Now, with Grüner Veltliner becoming a trendy variety, California may have its sights set on Austria. The country's signature wine is being produced in California by von Strasser winery in Calistoga, owned by Rudy von Strasser. (The small batch of wine will be available only at the winery.) Unfiltered did a little digging and found that 18 different orders have been placed with UC Davis' Foundation Plant Services for Grüner cuttings since the database was computerized in 1988 (we weren't about to start looking through paper files). So could we see more California Grüner in the future? Perhaps. UC Davis' grape program manager Susan Nelson-Kluk let us know that a batch of Austrian vines was imported in 2003, and is sitting in quarantine due to a viral infection. If it clears up OK, there'll be Grüner aplenty if anyone wants to plant it.
• It's been a tough summer in California. While the heat spikes in late July caused general discomfort and triple-digit utility bills, they also caused a fair amount of sunburn—on grapes as well as people. When vines are exposed to extreme heat for extended periods, the leaves covering the grapes can dry out and fall off, leaving the berries exposed to the sun. And their skins can burn much the same way that yours would if you spent several days straight in sunny, 100-degree weather. But winemaker Aaron Pott at biodynamic Napa producer Quintessa may have found a way to beat the heat, by applying a treatment of aloe, yucca and algae to the vines. "The aloe is for after we have issues with burned leaves and heat stress," he explained, "where the yucca is a stress relief. It sort of gives a little wetness to the vine, and enhances the stress resistance, especially in cases of limited water and nutrients." The algae provides UV protection. The results? A nice lush canopy of leaves and grapes with skins healthy enough to be models in a dermatologist's ad. Obviously these things are best left to the experts: Unfiltered would have just used SPF 30 Coppertone.
|Good wine, good cause.|
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