Robotic Tongue Can Judge Fine Wine Better Than The Most Seasoned Critic

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© 2017 Pedro Ribeiro Simões

If we’ve invented robotic bees to pollinate fields, and humanoid journalists to read the news, naturally it was only a matter of time before a robotic wine critic came along. The wine critic’s plum job might indeed be in danger, now that researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark claim that their artificial tongue can evaluate wine better than its human counterpart, for a number of reasons.

The researchers have designed an optical nanosensor based on surface plasmon resonance (SPR) that can evaluate how you experience the sensation of dryness in wine. This nanosensor can also discern how the tannins will stimulate your flavor sensors much more accurately than any seasoned wine critic.

While some people argue that it takes a human’s subjective experience to evaluate how good wine tastes, that very subjectivity also lies in question. The robot is impartial, and free from personal biases, but clearly not as poncy or fun.

Wine will no longer be described as "unctious", or "velvety, with notes of cedarwood" - the robot prefers telling you basically how astringent the wine is.

“The sensation arises because of the interaction between small organic molecules in the wine and proteins in your mouth. This interaction gets the proteins to change their structure and clump together. Until now, the focus has been on the clumping together that takes place fairly late in the process.

With the sensor, we’ve developed a method that mimics the binding and change in the structure of the proteins, i.e. the early part of the process. It’s a more sensitive method, and it reproduces the effect of the astringency better,” researcher Joana Guerreiro told TechCrunch.