You don’t need a wine expert to identify a 1974 Pinot Noir from Burgundy.
A hand-held “electronic tongue” devised by European scientists will tell you the grape variety and vintage at the press of a button.
Designed for quality control in the field, the device is made up of six sensors which detect substances characteristic of a certain wine variety. Components such as acid, sugar and alcohol can be measured, and from these parameters it can determine the age and variety of the wine.
The tongue was invented by Cecilia Jimenez-Jorquera and colleagues from the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics in Spain, and is reported in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal The Analyst.
Wine industry specialists told the researchers they lacked a fast way to assess quality of wines, as it can take a long time to send samples to a central laboratory for processing.
This new tongue is not only swift, but also portable, cheap to manufacture, and can be trained to “taste” new varieties as required.
Jimenez-Jorquera said that the device “could be used to detect frauds committed regarding the vintage year of the wine, or the grape varieties used.”
Two vintners contacted by Vinesse were initially skeptical about the device. They did not question its accuracy, but opined that the best identifier of a variety and arbiter of quality remains the trained human tongue.
As word of the new device spread throughout the wine world, it’s safe to say that tongues definitely were wagging.