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A new sensor called an "electronic tongue" (e-tongue) has detected signs of wine faults within a week of contamination with microorganisms. In the experiment at Washington State University (WSU), the technology reported changes in the flavour of wines four weeks faster than human tasters.

In the experiments, the researchers added microbes that cause unpleasant flavours to Rieslings. The tasters were trained in advance to recognise different wine aromas that are considered desirable and undesirable, so that they could correctly respond to mice, nail polish and plant aromas. It was taken into account that small amounts of incorrect flavours can even contribute to the complexity of a wine.

The wines were tested for six weeks at seven-day intervals with the sensory probes of the e-tongue and simultaneously assessed by the tasting team. After just one week, the E-Tongue was able to detect contamination and thus wine faults. The human testers needed four weeks for this. This means that the e-tongue is even able to "taste" signs of faults before microbes from the wine can be cultivated in a petri dish. A similar study with red wines also showed the technology's ability to help detect faults at an early stage. It can also be used to provide wines with a kind of fingerprint.

The researchers emphasise that the e-tongue is best used as a supplement to human analysis rather than a replacement for it. The study was supported by the Washington Wine and Grape Research Fund and the US Department of Agriculture and was published in the Journal of Food Science.

(al / source: decanter)

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