Designed to maintain quality control in the vineyard, the device consists of six sensors that detect substances characteristic of a certain wine variety, the researchers said. Components such as acid, sugar and alcohol can be measured and from those parameters it can determine the age and variety of the wine.
The tongue was invented by Cecilia Jimenez-Jorquera and colleagues at the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics after wine industry officials told the scientists they lacked a fast way of assessing wine quality in the field.
Jimenez-Jorquera said the device is not only swift, but also portable, cheap to manufacture, and can be trained to "taste" new varieties as required.
"The device could be used to detect frauds committed regarding the vintage year of the wine, or the grape varieties used," he added.
The research is reported in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal The Analyst.