| THE VINTAGE ENHANCER
The Vintage Enhancer is slightly more high-tech than the Flav-O-Ring. Created by the Bond/Helman company, this patented device looks like a space-age wine chiller -- shiny and cylindrical, with an electrical adapter.
Just stick a corked bottle into the cylinder, plug the contraption in and wait 15 to 40 minutes (depending on the type of beverage) for it to work its magic. After 15 minutes of rest, the contents are "aged" and ready to drink.
Bond/Helman explains the process in terms of biochemistry. For wine, acid strengths are expressed by the pH scale; the lower the pH (which measures the negative charge of a liquid), the more acidic the wine. The Vintage Enhancer pelts the wine with electromagnetic waves, stripping it of negative ions, raising its pH level and changing its biochemistry as if the wine's been aged. In basic terms, it helps balance the fruit-to-acid ratio by reducing the acid level.
According to the booklet, the Vintage Enhancer makes wine and spirits taste five to 10 years smoother, softer and more mature. It'll also improve the taste of acidic juices.
This time, our experiment was conducted on a 1996 Bordeaux; huge, tannic and in dire need of aging. Once the bottle was inserted and the Vintage Enhancer plugged in, a little green light began to flash on the side of the unit. That was it: no sounds or vibrations, no Jeopardy theme music - just that subtle blinking light. The only way to know for sure if the thing was working was to wait the requisite 40 mintues, then the additional 15, and then taste.
To our utter surprise, the enhanced wine was softer - and tasted much better -- than the unmagnetized wine we'd poured earlier. Another success!
The Vintage Enhancer is sold exclusively through the Sharper Image Catalog for $50. For more information, check out the Bond/Helman website at http://www.helmangroup.com.
So I guess we've all learned an important lesson here today: just because something sounds new-agey, it doesn't mean it sucks. I, for one, have been converted into a magnet-power Believer! Now where'd I leave that Yanni CD?