A Nanosensor That Acts Like a Wine Taster

If you’ve ever sipped red wine, you’ve probably noticed a sandpaper-y sensation that makes you squint your eyes and pucker your lips — aka “astringency” in wino-speak.

Winemakers taste their own wine or enlist the help of professional tasters to ensure it has just the right astringency levels. But soon, an electronic “tongue” might make their job a little easier.

Scientists have developed a nanosensor — a device that detects molecular interactions at tiny, nanoscale levels — that they say mimics how our tongues experience astringency. The device could allow wineries to monitor and adjust levels throughout the winemaking process rather than rely on error-prone human taste at the end. Duncan Steward Sutherland, an associate professor at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center at Aarhus University in Denmark, who led the nanosensor research, predicts that winemakers can get their hands on one in as little as three years.

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