* Article by Sarah Burh, TechCrunch, September 22, 2014
Photo credit: TechCrunch, Shutterstock
> Read Barry C. Smith’s comment on this piece.
…Researchers in Denmark have created an artificial tongue to find out whether expensive wine actually tastes any better than the cheap stuff.
The research, first published in ACS Nano, claims that an optical nanosensor based on surface plasmon resonance (SPR) can discern how you experience the sensation of dryness in wine. And they say this nanosensor can judge the way the tannins will hit your flavor sensors better than the finest wine critic can.
Instead of telling you that this wine tastes of leather bound books and mahogany, the nanosensor lets you know just how astringent the wine is. It does this by measuring the molecules in your mouth instead.
“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,” says researcher Joana Guerreiro.
The researchers point out that this technique is not new, but that using it to create a sensor that can measure an effect rather than just a number of molecules is. And the technique can be applied to much more than just wine.