Does "Clef du Vin" really Work?

In response to IdeasinWine's comments, I searched for the patents covering the Vin du Clef and found a puplished US Patent Application on the product. The composition of the product is not secret and the claims describing the product are: Copper does react with components in the wine so there is some basis for it to work.

I looked up the patent application on it and it uses an alloy of copper, silver and gold. But since it can contain 99% copper you could get the same effect by using a clean copper penny and save yourself the $90 or so they want for it.

The claims of the patent application are set forth below. To summarize, the product is an alloy of copper, gold and silver BUT it can contain as much as 99.9% copper and as little as 0.05% of each of silver and gold (Claim 2). The actual product probably is 95% copper, 3% gold and 2% silver (Claim 3).

I don't know if there is any evidence to support this alloy as being superior to just putting a clean copper penny or copper wire in the wine.

Copper is known to react with components in wine and some say it improves the wines organoleptic properties.

1. A method for processing wine contained in an open or closed container by modifying the wine's organoleptic properties, the method comprising the following steps: putting a wine to be processed in contact with a silver, gold, and copper alloy element having a surface and a composition defined in order to carry out accelerated and gauged oxidation-reduction of the wine.

2. A method for processing wine in accordance with claim 1 characterized by an alloy element comprising 60 to 99.9 percent copper, 0.05 to 20 percent silver and 0.05 to 20 percent gold.

3. A method for processing wine according to claim 2 characterized in that said alloy element is composed of 95 percent of copper, 3 percent of gold and 2 percent of silver.

4. A method for processing wine according to claim 2 characterized in that copper is beaten.

5. A device for oenological use allowing to carry out accelerated ageing of a wine comprising a support element that is neutral regarding oxidation, and an oxidizing element with a predetermined contact surface and a predetermined oxidation-reduction capacity, in order to realize a controlled accelerated ageing operation.
Originally posted by Sid_Mac:
I saw an advertisement for something called "Clef du Vin". It's a teardrop-shaped piece of metal alloy that when dipped into a glass of wine is supposed to replicate the aging process.

Has anyone heard of this, and does it work?

I live in an area that produces 4% of Australia's wine but 20% of it's premium wines. On a recent trip to South Africa we took six bottles of our best to do a tasting. There were 9 of us ranging in age from 48 to 90. One person had a Clef du Vin. We all tried it on different wines - I have now ordered two. Quite an amazing gadget!
To all those in this Forum who have knocked it and tried to prove how it can't possibly work without first trying it........ How rude of you! Just because it's beyond your comprehension doesn't mean it doesn't work. I wonder what you would have said to Christopher Columbus when he set sail for the edge of the world?
Awesome resurrection of a thread!

When the sales rep provides some information that shows complete lack of knowledge in one area, one has to wonder about the other claims. For example:

The metals, by the way, are a combined patented formula, but FAR more developed than the simple assumption of 100% copper as found in a penny.

If he's talking about a US penny, the composition is 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. Has been for many years. Copper is too expensive.

metallic elements were identified in the air. After continued testing, it was found that these elements did directly influence the natural breakdown of wine preservatives over time.

It's been years since I took chemistry classes, but let's look at that line and the assumptions behind it. Metallic elements were found in the air? OK.

Even if true, gold is generally considered a "noble" metal because it's one of the least reactive metals. (Look at where it sits in the periodic table.) That's why it can stay in the ground for a million years and when you dig it up, it's nice and shiny - it hasn't reacted with anything. Silver less so, but also generally not very reactive.

Both are however, used as catalysts.

So the sales guys can argue that these metals are acting as catalysts to "directly influence the natural breakdown of wine preservatives".

Except that means absolutely nothing at all.

What exactly are "wine preservatives"?

Sulfur comes to mind.

Also tannins can act as preservatives insofar as they mop up loose oxygen. They do that by combining with the oxygen and they also combine with each other and fall to the bottom of the bottle. (Oversimplified explanation.)

So does this thing somehow speed up the oxidation of sulfur? Who knows? They don't talk about oxidation - the thing causes the "breakdown" of the preservatives.

How do you break down sulfur anyway - it's an element.

Since it's the "breakdown" of the preservatives that we want, do we want to unpolymerize the tannins that have linked up with each other and with whatever anthocyanins there are? In other words, make the wine a little rougher?

What else does this thing catalyze or break down?

Hmm - what if we expand it's effects from just the tannins to all the other different polyphenols in wine. Stuff like resveratrol and the different flavonoids and non-flavonoids and anthocyanins.

Why is it that we want them all broken down again? To simulate aging? So we want to simulate aging by reversing aging?

The mind boggles.

And then there's some carmelization and whatever else is happening to the sugars as a wine ages that still isn't completely understood.

The magic device apparently takes care of everything just like that.

While hundreds of reactions take place as you age a bottle of wine, and they all occur at different rates and in different sequences, with this device they took three metals and suddenly can bring all the reactions into synch.

That's just not possible. Moreover, it's not even desirable. I want to age my wine to the point that it's perfect for ME to drink it. In other words, I don't want it to have no "natural preservatives" whatsoever left because then the wine would be dead. And every wine differs in the way it ages.

OTOH, is it possible that this thing really does affect the wine?

Yep. And for those people who claim that they noticed a difference, I'm not surprised.

You could have done it yourself.

Take a piece of Saran Wrap and put it in your glass of wine. People do that to get rid of TCA. It actually works, but it leaves your wine tasting pretty dead.

If you have actual copper, maybe a small piece from a copper pipe or an old penny, or even better, a small silver spoon, put it in your glass and swirl it. You get rid of any sulfur aromas that you might have. It's an old and commonly-known technique for getting rid of the sulfur smells in wine.

That has nothing whatsoever to do with aging a wine, or what you want out of an aged wine.

And this:

A formula was created with the metallic compound to accelerate the breakdown of preservatives ONE YEAR PER SECOND

is simply a complete load of crap. It assumes that there's an equal amount of all "preservatives" in every wine and that they all need to be broken down.

Oh, and by the way, it ignores temperature. Your wine is cold, mine is warm, and the reactions take place at exactly the same rate.

Someone in that company should take a high-school chemistry class.

I assume that those who champion the device simply haven't had that much wine in their lives but I'm sorry they got suckered in.
shts and giggles.

take glass of wine

Wine has sulfur dioxide as a preservative.

this clef du vin has copper and some funny stuff in it.

maybe it has potassium permanaganate, i mean the stuff is purple.

so MnO4 + H -> Mn2 + H2O
SO2 + H20 -> SO4 + H -> H2SO4 + Mn

so you have sulfuric acid with Manganese

Now Sulfuric acid with the presence of ethanol (granted you have to heat it, but whatever shts and giggles) will give the following reaction
3HC-CH2-OH + H2SO4 => (C2H5)2O.

which would make one happy =)

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