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Sunday, 21 September 2014

"Mini-Mouth" Threatens to Replace Human Wine Tasters

Researchers in Denmark have come up with a sensor to measure how astringency in wine might feel in your mouth.

Denmark is not known for its wine production, but that has not stopped the researchers at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre of Aarhus University from developing a sensor that apparently can do what your mouth does when it tastes wine. The spoilsports!

We wine tasters know that the tannin level in wine is an all-important part of the taste of wine, well of red wine, at least. If it’s in balance we notice tannin in wine as a kind of pleasant astringent sensation in the mouth – a feeling more than a taste.

The researchers in Denmark seem to think that wine producers need better testing methods to test and then control the amount of tannins at an early stage of the winemaking process. At this point the mere human mouth doesn’t notice the tannins – the winemaker tastes the wine at an early stage and has to take his or her best guess as to how the tannins will turn out once the transformation into the final wine has taken place.

It’s enough to make you drool. According to Anne-Mette Siem writing in Phys.org, saliva is what this is all about. Saliva in the mouth contains the proteins which react with the wine to cause the drying or astringent sensation. The mini-mouth sensor uses salivary proteins to measure the sensation that occurs in your mouth when you taste wine. It will be used not only for measuring the effect of wine on your mouth but also for other substances, like medicines.

PhD student Joana Guerreiro, author of the scientific article presenting the article on the sensor explains: "The sensor expands our understanding of the concept of astringency. The sensation arises because of the interaction between small organic molecules in the wine and proteins in your mouth. With the sensor, we've developed a method that mimics the binding and change in the structure of the proteins. It's a more sensitive method [than used before], and it reproduces the effect of the astringency better."

Robotic tongues and electronic noses have been proposed before by researchers in Spain, France and beyond. Always, the researchers reassure us wine tasters that we will not be replaced, but it's still scary, quite frankly.

We all know wine is the very best medicine, so please Aarhus nanoscientists, don’t try to put us wine tasters out of business. Before we know it even Parker scores will be replaced by the 100-point Danish Mini-Mouth scores.

Source: http://www.wine-searcher.com/