That a glass of wine poured over a bunch of crushed rocks and soil could leach out some heavy metals should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers a little bit of high school chemistry. Wine is acidic, of course, and acids have a way of grabbing on to lots of materials and dissolving them.
The fact that wine may be better at doing this than some industrial solvents might generate some surprise, however. It certainly surprised a bunch of Australian researchers who recently spent a little of their extracurricular time testing out how well wine and soda might assist mining companies in the detection of valuable metals.
Here's how it works:
Step 1: Crush rocks
Step 2: Pour on a nice unwooded Chardonnay
Step 3: Mix
Step 4: Pour liquid into detection device
Step 5: Scan for metals
Step 6: Do not drink
The acids in the wine dissolve metals like nickel, silver, zinc, and copper, which the detection device (some sort of spectrometer?) can observe. If the metals are in high enough concentration in the final solution, then the mining companies have something to go hunting for.
The implications for the excess of cheap wine that remains unsold at times in Australia (sometimes referred to as the Australian Wine Lake) are clear. There may be a whole new market for un-drunk Shiraz.
Me? I'm thinking about something else: those silver fillings I've got in my mouth that are being bathed pretty regularly in a bath of wine. Is there such a thing as silver poisoning? If there is, then I'm on my way. I hope it's not too painful a way to go.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
What's Holding Wine Back in America Vinography Images: From the Fog The World's First Wine Bar Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 31, 2015 Vinography Images: Sky Drama Secrets of the World's Best Wine Lists Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 24, 2015 Vinography Images: The Happy Canyon Drinking Time Itself: The Champagnes of Anselme Selosse The Great Prosecco Crisis of 2015
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune