Worm Noses to Rate Wines?

Wine sniffing wormWe’re accustomed to good wine-related news coming out of Australia, but today it’s more like “news of the wierd.” Reuters reports in Scientists look at worms for electronic wine nose that researchers are studying smell sensors in worms and insects to try to build an electronic “cybernose” to gauge smells and aromas.

Head researcher Stephen Trowell said on Friday scientists believe they will be able to artificially copy the way worms and insects process smells, allowing detailed measurements of subtle differences in wine and other food and drinks…. Trowell said he hoped a product would be on the market in five to seven years. He hoped it would allow wine makers to know the best time to pick their grapes and to better tailor their wines to taste… But Trowell said the device would not replace traditional wine-making skills. “It won’t change the wine. But it will make it much easier to achieve a higher quality of wine at every point.”

An electronic aroma sniffer would indeed be handy for winemakers, particularly if they were able to correlate the data with both expert input and consumer preferences. Probably the biggest difference would be that quality control could improve by more or less continues sampling. While most wineries have people with trained noses and palates, these experts simply can’t be involved continuously with the processing and packaging. “Cybernoses” could be on continuous duty at multiple points to guard against product problems.

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