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Electronic Taste of Cava may help improve Quality

Posted: Thursday, 04 August 2011 14:05

Electronic Taste of Cava may help improve Quality

August 04: After research in France and Sweden on developing an electronic nose to find defects in wine aromas, comes a study from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain that claims that an electronic probe would be able to identify different types of Cava- the traditional Spanish sparkling wine, based on sugar levels-brut nature, brut and medium dry, but with none of the researches threatening to eliminate or reduce the role of a Sommelier.

Photo:: The Daily Mail

Using sensor systems and mathematical processes, the electronic tongue can currently distinguish between three types of cava but researchers hope that  with proper training, it will soon be able to pick out all types of cava on the market-there are seven types based on the sugar content, in a way similar to how a sommelier might differentiate.

Cava is made using the same process as champagne but using mostly the local Spanish grapes Parellada, Xarel.lo and Macabeo -by adding yeast and with the second fermentation in the bottle. It varies in sweetness according to the addition of  sugar at the end of the production process known as liqueur d'expédition, with seven classifications ranging from Brut Nature to sweet.

The researchers claim that the electronic ‘tongue’ will help identify problems during the process and help in quality control. This could reduce the need for human tasters in cava-producing wineries based mostly in Catalonia- especially in and around a small town called Sant Sadurni d’Anoia near Barcelona.

The team has spent years working on the development of electronic tongues. The researchers are currently working on perfecting the device through the incorporation of bio-sensors. Electronic tongues are nothing but bio-inspired systems created with the aim of reproducing human perception senses.

Scientists in France have already developed in recent years an electronic ‘nose’  which can pick up chemical signals to detect different types of wine and where they were made. Researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden claimed last year that their electronic ‘nose’ could be used in the vineyard to tell the perfect time to harvest grapes to extract maximum flavour, or to detect if and when an opened bottle of wine has gone bad.

It is unlikely that sommeliers will be out of a job since their skills tend also to include knowledge of wine regions, service, glasses and in fact making the customer comfortable by advising him or her on various options based on the individual taste and preference. Besides aromas, there are different aspects of flavours that a machine may not detect. Making the issue more complicated is the fact that different people have preference for different tastes on their palate. It is an accepted fact that many people like the aromas and flavours due to Brettanomyces; more commonly known as  Bretts which is considered a wine fault but within certain limits is considered a characteristic of complexity by many wine drinkers.

However, the device may be of significant use for wine producers in maintaining the wine quality, feel many sommeliers, according to the report by CNN


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