An MW student stands to win US$1m if his dissertation proves magnetic wine-improving devices work as claimed.

James Cluer is testing the BevWizard, a magnetic wine pourer marketed by Dr Pat Farrell, a medical doctor and MW.

The device, Farrell claims, causes hard small tannins to bind together into larger, softer tannins, thus making cheap wines more drinkable.

Many people are unconvinced by such claims. US sceptic James Randi, whose Florida-based educational foundation is committed to providing reliable information about paranormal claims, is doubtful enough to offer a large cash prize to anyone who can prove the claims.

‘We will pay $1m to anyone who can tell the difference between wine that has been treated with any of the so-called wine magnet devices, and the same wine not so treated’, he said. ‘It should take less than a day to perform a comprehensive set of tests, and the potential payoff is a million dollars—plus my personal, abject, apologies for having doubted the applicants.’

Cluer’s research is for his MW dissertation and is approved by the Institute of Masters of Wine. The research inlcudes extensive testing at the ETS laboratories in California, randomized blind tastings, and a marketing survey of wine retailers around the world.

‘Many of the world’s leading winemakers and retailers are currently testing the BevWizard,’ he said.

The single published scientific study into the effects of magnets on wine tested a device called the Perfect Sommelier. Of the 60 participants, 29 preferred the magnetized wine and 31 the non-magnetized one. ‘More research into this area is now called for,’ the authors conclude.

Lead author of this study, Dr James Rubin, told decanter.com, ‘It’s hardly rocket science setting up a decent study. I would say that the fact that the producers of these devices haven’t done that speaks volumes.’

Other scientists too are sceptical. ‘I can’t see any way that this device could plausibly work, at least not based on the magnet,’ tannin expert Dr Markus Herderich of the Australian Wine Research Institute said.

Written by Jamie Goode