The Premium Wine Card

Could this be a cheap cheat to expensive-tasting wine?

Will the Premium Wine Card take your wine to new heights?

If you've ever wanted to turn $6 plonk into Grange, the Premium Wine Card (PWC) might be just what you need. For only $75, the metal card in premium packaging "contains an embedded set of precise frequencies that produce a long-lasting natural resonance".

This resonance, we're assured in the marketing bumph, can be transferred to wine through the wine glass – simply hold the card against the wine glass as you pour, or rub the card on the glass if it's already been poured. The company claims it works best on red wine, which it 'improves' by softening the tannins. However, they claim it also reduces the acidity of white wine.

But does the PWC really work? CHOICE happily investigates.

From plonk to premium?

Here at CHOICE we love wine almost as much as we love a bargain so we tried the card on a cheap and cheerful young sparkling wine at our office Melbourne Cup do. We gave volunteers two glasses – one treated with the wine card, and one not – and asked which they preferred. The results were 50:50 – so it was either pretty random, or, if it did have any effect, it wasn't always a good one!

We also had an expert taster, wine show judge and wine journalist Mike Bennie come in to do a more controlled trial. He picked out the card-treated samples in two out of three blind taste tests. He said there was a barely noticeable difference that most consumers wouldn't detect. This may be a good thing – he thought the card-treated samples tasted worse than the untreated ones! However, this sort of test wouldn't stand up statistically, and could have been due to effects such as how the wine was poured, or how long it was standing before tasting.

May the force be with your wine

The PWC is one of many such devices that claim to improve wine, typically involving magnets or crystals as alleged sources of transformative energy.

It's possible that adding some energy force to wine will affect the taste, and there's a bit of research going on in this area. Ultrasonics, electromagnetic and pulsed electric fields are being investigated for their effects on improving wines in much the same way during the ageing process.

But these processes involve a lot of energy and are applied during the fermentation process – not after bottling, and not in the glass.

The PWC has no power source, so any embedded 'frequencies' or 'resonance' won't get very far – if you want to transmit 'frequencies' there has to be a power source, or risk defying energy conservation laws. But if it can't change the chemical properties of wine, it just might affect your brain chemistry – the placebo effect is a very powerful thing!

CHOICE verdict

Bottom line? If you prefer your wine low in tannins, skip the PWC and buy pinot noir.