The Science Bit…

OK, so a GinGenie™ makes your chilled drinks taste better, but how?

It is well known that the way a beverage is drunk can affect how it is experienced. The type of drinking vessel used can affect the user’s experience, which is especially the case for alcoholic drinks. The great variety of sizes and shapes of glasses for wines, beers and spirits demonstrate a general understanding, or belief, that the type of vessel used should, in general, be appropriate for the type of beverage.


Fancy wine in a pint glass?

Drinking wine from a pint glass normally used for beer, for example, would normally be considered inappropriate, as would drinking beer from a glass normally used for wine. Some of the effects of the type of glass used will, of course, be purely psychological, in the same way, that a user’s experience of a wine can be affected by the surroundings and ambience. Some effects, however, can be attributed to the specific shape and size of the vessel used, which affect how the various flavours and aromas of the beverage are experienced. A red wine, for example, may normally be served in a larger, more rounded, glass so that more of the aromas in the wine will be able to be detected by the user’s nose during drinking.


The colder the better…

In the case of gin, which is commonly served on ice with tonic water, the temperature is an important aspect of the drinking experience. A low temperature, however, can result in some of the aromatic components in the gin being suppressed or lost. Many modern varieties of gins contain a hugely varied selection of botanicals. To optimise the drinking experience, it would, therefore, be beneficial to be able to consume such a drink at the correct temperature, while maximising the ability to experience the aromas and flavours present in the drink. This may also apply to other alcoholic drinks, particularly those normally served cold.

An advantage of our GinGenie™ is that the combination of high thermal conductivity, typical of a metal with a bowl-shaped portion at the inlet end of the straw, enables a marked improvement in the ability to detect aromatic components in a beverage, particularly one that is served ice-cold. This is believed to be partly due to the thermal mass of the bowl-shaped portion of the straw coming into contact with a greater volume of liquid and maintaining the temperature of the liquid as it is drawn upwards through the tube and into the user’s mouth.

The metal should have a thermal conductivity of greater than 300 W m-1 K -1 at 20 oC. Metals such as copper (around 386 W m-1 K-1), gold (around 315 W m-1 K-1 20 ) and silver (around 407 W m-1 K-1), or alloys thereof, may be used.  At the very least the internal surface of the tube, and optionally the concave surface of the bowl-shaped portion, may consist of silver or a silver alloy. In other embodiments, the 25 internal and external surfaces of the drinking straw may consist of silver or a silver alloy. In other embodiments, the entire drinking straw may consist of silver or a silver alloy. The silver alloy may consist of at least 90% silver by weight, a typical example being Sterling silver, containing 92.5% by weight of silver with 7.5% other metals including copper.


The dynamics of a straw

An advantage of the drinking straw comprising or consisting of silver is that silver has certain active properties that can affect the flavours and aromas present in the beverage. It is known that silver has antibacterial properties, possibly partly due to its effect on catalysing oxidation reactions. This is believed to be at least partly responsible for the enhancement of flavours when drinking through a silver straw, the effect of which is enhanced by increasing the area of contact through use of the bowl-shaped portion at the inlet end.

An internal bore of the tube may have a diameter of between 1.5 and 2.5 mm, with a particularly preferred diameter of around 2 mm (i.e. nominally between 1.9 and 2.1 mm). A bore of this diameter allows the liquid to travel at sufficient speed through the tube to arrive at the outlet end at the appropriate temperature and rate of flow. A larger bore will result in a lower travel speed, which will affect how the liquid enters the user’s mouth.

The tube may have a flared outlet end, an advantage of which is to allow the straw to be more easily held in the mouth without being handled, thereby maintaining the temperature of the liquid passing through the straw.