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Nuking Your Pinot Noir In The Microwave

on 01/11/13 at 10:20 am


The latest winemaking tool may be in your kitchen—the microwave.

indexWinemakers may want to consider a new tool to join their stainless steel tanks, oak vats and clay amphorae—a microwave. Recent trials at the University of Tasmania involved heating Pinot Noir grapes in a home microwave to explore the benefits of consistent heating before fermentation. The research found several unintended benefits: Grapes heated in the microwave allowed the researchers to thoroughly but gently extract tannins and color compounds during fermentation, which may make it attractive to winemakers.

For her experiments, Dr. Anna Carew made wine on a scale small enough to make garagistes look like bulk producers. She collected Pinot Noir grapes from a Northern Tasmania vineyard and separated them into 2 kilogram batches. Using an off-the-shelf, 1150-watt Sharp microwave (not unlike the model tasked with reheating leftovers in your kitchen), she and her team microwaved the batches at varying intervals of one to two minutes. Each lot reached a peak temperature of 158° F and stayed at that temperature for 10 minutes via a thermal blanket, before being cooled to 86° F. The grapes were then transferred to French press coffee makers (think of them as mini submerged-cap fermentors) for fermentation. The wine was then aged for 18 months in small glass bottles, with regular tests.