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Can Science Make Your Favorite Wine Cheaper?


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Winemakers aren’t going to be happy. There’s a new brand in town, Replica, and they are “unapologetically recreating your favorite wines.” Over the past four years, Replica’s parent company has used laboratory techniques to empirically analyze 60 taste and aroma markers in 2,000 wines, creating the largest database of its type in the world. The company is now using these markers — like acidic, dry, nutty, spicy — in conjunction with the tastebuds of Brett Zimmerman, a master sommelier (the highest distinction of a wine expert; only 230 people have attained this rank since the Court of Master Sommeliers began in 1977), to recreate popular wines at a price that’s 25 to 50 percent less than the original bottle.

The bottles (all blends, as you can imagine) hit shelves yesterday. The wines they chose to replicate are massively popular, all falling in the inebriated zeitgeist: Replica’s Pickpocket replicates The Prisoner, a bottle called a “modern-day wine success story” by Wine Spectator, and Replica’s Knockoff copies Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve, a brand name that is as ubiquitous to wine as Coors or Miller is to beer. In total, the first launch includes five bottles (four reds and one white), with another three on the way. “Consumers are paying too much for their favorite wines,” said Ari Walker, president of Replica. “Meanwhile, the retailers who sell these wines are also getting squeezed due to the excessive power of the huge suppliers that produce them. That’s why we developed Replica — to deliver value to consumers and retailers.” The resulting wine is not quite an exact copy, but close enough to fool anyone at a casual dinner party this summer and definitely worth a taste.