Imagine you were a synthetic chemist, smitten with wine. You tried a great Burgundy, and you simply couldn’t get this wine out of your mind.
Sadly, your salary as a researcher meant you just couldn’t afford to buy this wine. So you got together perfumiers, analytic chemists, food scientists and a whole raft of other experts to collaborate in a great venture: to recreate that great Burgundy synthetically.
After 10 years of research, you hit the jackpot. Despite the myriad flavour and aroma compounds present in the wine, you have recreated it with a little help from the Sigma catalogue.
You present the wine to two of the world’s top critics, and blind, they cannot tell the real from the synthetic Burgundy.
One critic celebrates: here we have a wine for the people. Something thrilling for $10 a bottle. After all, wine is just what in the glass, and if all we are experiencing with a great Burgundy is a delicious, compelling flavour, then this synthetic wine will do the job nicely.
The other critic, however, is deeply troubled. This is a bad day for wine. For wine is very much more than simply a liquid with particular flavour properties. It matters that the wine is ‘real’.
Which critic do you identify with most closely?