Scientists Develop a Nanosenor to Taste Wine

For winemakers who aren’t a fan of the drying, roughing, lip-puckering sensation of tasting a wine for its astringency levels, they can turn to an electric “tongue” to make the process a little easier, reports Ozy.

Scientists have just developed a nanosensor — a device that detects nanoscale molecular interactions — that imitates how human tongues experience astringency levels in wine. The nanosensor works by mimicking the interaction of red wine phenols and saliva proteins.

This device will be especially beneficial for wineries, allowing them to accurately monitor and adjust the astringency level of their wines without having to rely on the subjective opinion of an error-prone taster. Duncan Steward Sutherland, an associate professor at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center at Aarhus University in Denmark, who led the research on the device, predicts that winemakers will be able to get their hands on one in as little as three years.

However, Andrew Waterhouse, a wine chemist at the University of California, Davis, suspects the nanosensor may not be as foolproof as the researchers claim. “Astringency is a response in humans,” he said. “They need to get measurements from people, and they can compare that to their device” to confirm whether the nanosensor detects astringency in the same way that humans do.

In addition to its oenological utility, the device may also be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions stemming from structural changes to certain proteins. To learn more about the science behind the process, check out the Ozy article. [Ozy] [Photo: Flickr.com/rogersmj]