Electronic tongues could be used to help growers gauge the ripeness and maturity of grapes, making it easy to pick the right time to harvest.
Researchers used a electronic tongue developed at the Universitat Politècnica de València to measure the maturity of eight grape varieties -- Macabeo, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shyrah, Merlot and Bobal.
They found that the tongue was able to provide data similar to that obtained using traditional tests, especially regarding acidity and sugar level.
The main advantages of the tongue are its relatively low cost and portability. Producers also believe the tongue can help test grapes at the places where their produce is taken.
"The latter is especially useful to assess the degree of ripeness as with current methods of analysis further assessment in a laboratory is usually required," says Ramón Martínez Máñez, researcher at the Universitat Politècnica de València.
The researchers are looking to widen the applications of the tongue into the wine-making process as well, even using it to control the fermentation of the grapes in vats.