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Friday, June 01, 2018

Fake Wines (and other drinks/foods/products?)

Can complex, pricey wines be replicated far more cheaply by recreating them with equivalent mixtures of tastes using chemistry?  A similar approach was used when we analyzed component green coffees in blends for well known tastes and interactions.  We essentially we did this by using AI and optimization based analysis of blends to find taste equivalent results.  Verified by professional tasting.  So were these fakes, or reasonable equivalence to human abilities to taste?   We called it good business. Good piece with interesting commercial implications.  This is also done in other non-food businesses too, like the formulation and manufacture of paints.  The human interaction with the product can now be done in more precise ways than before.

Also consider: Counterfeit goods detection via machine learning.

Your Next Glass of Wine Might be a Fake --- and You'll Love it.  In Wired. by Bruce Schoenfeld.

Replica Wine makes cheaper copies of your favorite wine at a discount by analyzing its chemistry. Often, even professional critics can't tell the difference. Is this heresy or just good business?

" ... Over the past four years, Ellipse has analyzed thousands of wines, a formidable chunk of the American marketplace. More than anyone else, it is safe to say, the IBG team can scientifically define what the most popular wines taste like. “Only we, uniquely, have this data to say, ‘If you like Goldeneye, we know exactly why you like Goldeneye,’” Walker says about a California Pinot Noir that IBG will soon be trying to replicate. “And we know what else you’re likely to like. And what you won’t.”

IBG can’t replicate every wine. Those with singular attributes, like wines made from grapes grown in a specific vineyard or from a hard-to-find variety, are far more difficult, bordering on impossible, for the simple reason that all of IBG’s wines start with those surplus lots being sold on the bulk market. When I ask Zimmerman if they could replicate a small-batch Shiraz from a producer in Australia’s Adelaide Hills that is a particular favorite of mine, he rolls his eyes and says there’s no way.

But the world’s most popular wines—from Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay to Dom Perignon—are made hundreds of thousands of bottles at a time, enough volume that their grapes are sourced from a range of vineyards. “The reason K-J is so successful,” Hicks says about Kendall-Jackson, “is that it tastes consistent, year after year, bottling after bottling. You know what you’re going to get, like Coca-Cola or Campbell’s soup.” If Kendall-Jackson is using what seems like a fairly exact recipe to make each vintage of its wines, Hicks figures, there’s no reason that IBG, with its reams of scientific data, can’t match it. .... "

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