It sounded like a dream come true. The Miracle Machine was a gadget that would turn water -- along with grape concentrate and yeast -- into wine in your very home in as little as three days. A lot of people got excited, imagining becoming home winemakers without all the bother of growing grapes, aging in barrels, or knowing anything about how to make wine.
There was just one catch, and it was a big one. The Miracle Machine is a made-up product. The Miracle Machine founders promised a Kickstarter launch, but that debut never materialized. It was just a hook to get people to sign up for more information. Today, those people got an e-mail leading them to a video about Wine to Water, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supplying clean drinking water to people in need around the globe.
The end game for the stunt is to raise awareness of Wine to Water and drive donations and volunteers to the cause. The people behind it say that more than 600 media outlets around the world picked up coverage of the fake product within the last 10 days. To be fair, quite a few of them were skeptical the gadget could deliver what it promised.
We no longer have to worry about how well the Miracle Machine would work. I have to give kudos to the folks behind the publicity stunt for pulling it off in a plausible manner. The "inventors" had real wine credentials. All the talk about refractometers and air diffuser pumps really made it come alive. There was even a physical mock-up of the device, though it turns out it was just a lump of wood with LED lights.
The Miracle Machine will go down as a lesson in getting too excited about a product. Who knows, maybe somebody will figure out how to make a real "accelerated wine-making device." In the meantime, we have a pretty good publicity stunt to add to the archives.