Vintage records: Winemaker infuses sound during fermentation

Hemera

Markus Bachmann, a French horn player from Austria, has created a fermentation system that infuses the music of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Vivaldi and rare orchestra and jazz recordings into wine.

He is the managing director of Sonor Wines.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper: Could you describe your process for wine fermentation?

Markus Bachmann: It's a new process using music during the creation of wine. I put a speaker in the wine tank and play music during the fermentation. The yeast starts doing totally different things to the wine. 

LRK: Well, it's been proven that music does affect plants, right? And yeast is essentially a plant. So you've taken that idea and added speakers right in the middle of the liquid, and you're playing music, which is affecting the yeast. Have I got it right? 

MB: Exactly. The speaker only has the magnet and no membranes, so the wine fluid serves as the membrane. The sound waves that come out of the speaker help to mix the yeast, which then doesn't have to use its own energy to eat sugar; the sugar comes to the yeast. 

That saves the yeast's energy and allows it to affect the wine in unique ways. It produces a higher alcohol content with a richer aroma. It uses up all of the sugar and gives us a very dry wine.

LRK: How does it taste? Does it taste different? 

MB: Oh yes, definitely. It tastes very rich and very mature. It makes a young wine taste like an old wine -- like a 3-year-old wine. It also tastes wooden, but it has never seen a barrel.

Normally, the problem with wine is you have too much sugar. But because there is no sugar at the end of our process, more flavors start to come out. It's a very pure, rich wine. 

And it's oily, so to say. It makes one big window on the glass instead of lots of drops.

LRK: Ah, so when you tip the wine against the glass, you look for legs or sheets. The thicker wine -- the wine with more body -- will create a sheet against the glass and not legs.

MB: Exactly.

LRK: What kind of music do you play?

MB: The yeast hasn't got earphones on, so the key is in the frequencies. And then, of course, it's the volume and it's the pulse of the rhythm that mixes it. The mixing keeps the yeast much more alive. There is 30 percent more living yeast in the fermentation than in wines without music.

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