Wine grapes are no longer a necessity for making wine.
Wine grapes are no longer a necessity for making wine. michael clarke stuff/CC BY-SA 2.0

Chemically, wine is just a mixture of water, sugar, alcohol, and a mixture of molecules that give it its unique taste and aroma. The exact molecules are created by factors such as grape variety, weather, soil nutrients, and the aging process. But would wine really be wine if you skipped all the steps and put the same chemicals in a bottle? A startup in California thinks so, and is in the process of developing a line of synthetic wines sans vineyards, according to Wired.

The company’s production process doesn’t just skip the grape growing—it also skips fermentation. Instead, the chemical components of wine are combined in a lab. Chemicals like diacetyl, ethyl butyrate, and methoxypyrazine lend butter, pineapple, and green bell pepper flavors, respectively, to a blend of ethanol, water, and amino acids. Different varieties of wine can be recreated by tweaking the chemical composition. Even rare wines could be recreated.

The company, Ava Winery, uses tools like mass spectrometry to study the chemical makeup of wines, and then develops recipes for the synthetic versions using chemical compounds produced for use in food. The grape-less wine will be more consistent than traditional wines, unaffected by bad storms or droughts. And while synthetic wine is a novelty now, but it may be a necessity when wine-growing regions shift due to climate change. The first bottles should reach store shelves later this year.