Handheld lasers may be the future for fine wine companies

Fine wine companies may seem like they would have little use for a laser - after all, wine-making has existed for about 7,000 years, whereas lasers have been around for less than 70.

But a handheld device that is capable of putting out a beam of light at a specific wavelength - just as a laser can do - could prove to be very useful indeed to fine wine companies keen to ensure high quality in their crop harvests.

Writing in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, a team from the University of Milan explain why a handheld light-emitting device could help to make sure grapes are harvested from the vine at the right time.

They identify three different wavelengths of light "able to discriminate, in the field, those grapes ready to be harvested using a simplified, handheld, and low-cost optical device".

In short, you shine a laser at the grape and see what happens.

They found the most useful wavelengths to be at the absorption peak of chlorophyll (670nm), the maximum reflectance peak (730nm) and at the third multiple of OH bond stretching (780nm) - a measurement linked to distortion in water molecules inside the grape.

In the future, devices capable of shining light at these wavelengths could be used to identify ripe grapes, for the maximum possible quality of vineyard harvests.