Every wine lover ogles fine bottles of reds or whites that cost hundreds of dollars — well beyond our budget. Iconic wines, like Cheateau Montelena, famous for being the first Californian Chardonnay to beat French contenders at the Paris Wine Tasting in 1976, are no exception. They transfix us until we bring ourselves back to reality and settle for an affordable Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods wine. A San Francisco winery, however, believes we don't have to sacrifice our wallets or palettes for expensive taste.

Ava Winery founders Mardonn Chua and Alex Lee claim they can "turn water into wine" in just 15 minutes, without using grapes. The duo, motivated by a display of Chateau Montelena on a wine tour, wanted to see if they could hack the wine. Traditionally, winemakers ferment grape juice by allowing yeast to turn its sugars into ethanol, then they let the wine age.

On Medium, however, Chua described his first attempt at making wine without the grapes. He used ingredients like tartaric acid, malic acid, tannin powder, sucrose, and ethanol in the form of Everclear. To improve mouthfeel, he used vegetable glycerin. Chua’s initial batch included flavor compounds like limonene, which has a citrusy aroma, and pineapple-scented ethyl hexanoate. After spending a weekend testing different concoctions, he arrived at his best one yet — though he admitted it wasn’t “a good wine yet, but it was acceptable enough to drink.”

After this attempt, Chua and his team used specialized techniques to analyze the chemical compositions of different wines, including Chardonnay, champagne, and Pinot Noir. These techniques, which included gas chromatography mass spectrometry, identified the amounts of amino acids, sugars, and flavor and odor compounds found within each drink, and allowed Chua to include them in his synthetic wine. Once he was satisfied with the proportions of these chemicals, he had the winery’s sommelier test his drink.

Still, there are some skeptics. Alain Deloire, director of the National Wine and Grape Industry Center at Charles Sturt University, Australia, has previously worked for Moët & Chandon. He called the synthetic wine “nonsense,” arguing that the landscape and culture where grapes grow have an indispensable impact on the wine that is produced, New Scientist reported.

On the other hand, Lee argues that most of the compounds in wine have no perceptible impact on the flavor or aroma. Both, he says, are due to compounds that make up just 0.1 percent of the total — they include molecules that come from the wine grapes’ skins, which change as the wine ages. Meanwhile, the microbes that ferment the wine also create some of the compounds. Not all the compounds will significantly impact the flavor of the wine, but all of them contribute to its complexity.

This isn’t the first time someone has dabbled with synthetic alcohol. In 2009, researchers at Imperial College London began to develop synthetic alcohol from chemicals related to Valium, a sedative that can treat anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures. The product worked just like alcohol in the brain, providing feelings of wellbeing and relaxation. However, unlike alcohol, it did not affect other parts of the brain that control mood swings and lead to addiction. Most interestingly, this alcohol worked in conjunction with an antidote pill, which could switch off the drink’s effects, rendering the user sober immediately.

Currently, Ava Winery’s website lists its replica of a 1992 Dom Pérignon Champagne for $50. A deal, considering the real thing sells for more than $150. However, wine lovers may turn their noses up at the fact that none of these replicas will have the word “wine” on their labels — a term that can only be used if grapes or other fruits are used in the fermenting process.

Nevertheless, the fact that water can be turned into wine in 15 minutes — less time than it takes to order a pizza — seems like it’s worth raising a glass to.