As anyone does when buying wine, Eugene Mulvihill, owner of Restaurant Latour on the grounds of his Crystal Springs resort (973.827.5996, www.crystalgolfresort.com) in Vernon, N.J., takes chances when replenishing the rare and fine wines he keeps among his 20,000-bottle collection. “We bought a case of 30 bottles one time, and 12 were contaminated,” laments Mulvihill, recalling one wine-auction purchase he made. Recognizing the value of reducing such risk, Mulvihill acquired from the University of California, Davis, the rights to a machine that can detect a turned wine without uncorking the bottle. The machine employs magnetic resonance technology to obtain the chemical composition of the wine. The scanner tests the wines that patrons order at Restaurant Latour, where the prototype Wine Scanner is kept, and it is used to provide a wine-testing service for wine collectors.
Even if Wine Scanners become commonplace, tasting would remain an inexact science. As Richard Betts, master sommelier at the Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., notes, “A wine that one person finds beautifully mature may appear to another to be over the hill.”