'Nano tongue' could be a new tool for fine wine companies

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The idea of being a professional taster for a fine wine company is an aspiration many people share, but there could soon be an automatic way to test for one of the key elements in any wine's overall complexity.

Astringency is the 'dryness' that is left in the mouth following a taste of wine, and is most noticeable with red wines.

It is an almost unparalleled sensation, and the only close comparison elsewhere in the world is achieved by biting into an unripe banana.

But scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark have been working to create an automatic test for this sensation anyway, to give fine wine companies an extra tool in their testing arsenal.

They have created a nanosensor capable of mimicking the way the human tongue detects astringency - a kind of 'nano tongue' that they stress is not intended to entirely replace human tasting.

Joana Guerreiro, first author of the team's journal paper in ACS NANO, says: "We don't want to replace the wine taster. We just want a tool that is useful in wine production.

"When you produce wine, you know that the finished product should have a distinct taste with a certain level of astringency. If it doesn't work, people won't drink the wine."