USA – US-based scientists have unveiled a unique method to swiftly detect wine spoilage, potentially safeguarding brands from significant losses due to contaminated products.

Spearheaded by researchers at Washington State University (WSU), this innovative approach harnesses the power of an “electronic tongue” equipped with advanced sensory probes, surpassing traditional human sensory capabilities.

Traditionally, winemakers relied on sensory testing and petri-dish analyses to identify potential faults in wine. However, these methods often entail lengthy processes, leaving room for spoilage to escalate.

The recent study, detailed in the Journal of Food Science, showcases the remarkable efficiency of the e-tongue in pinpointing contamination within a fraction of the time.

Led by Professor Carolyn Ross, the WSU team deliberately introduced four microbial contaminants into Riesling wines to mimic spoilage scenarios. Over a 42-day period, the e-tongue and a sensory panel of 13 trained volunteers evaluated the samples weekly.

Astonishingly, while human senses lagged in detection, the electronic tongue swiftly identified spoilage after just seven days, offering a pivotal advantage in preserving wine quality.

Expanding application and insight

The e-tongue’s versatility extends beyond spoilage detection. Ross and her colleagues previously explored its efficacy with red wine and continue to enhance its capabilities by constructing a comprehensive library to refine its “tasting” abilities.

Moreover, the instrument’s unique capacity to generate a wine “fingerprint” provides invaluable insights into overall wine quality, serving as a complementary tool for discerning winemakers.

With the potential to revolutionize quality assurance practices, wineries are urged to embrace this groundbreaking technology.

The WSU team is actively seeking collaboration with industry partners to leverage the e-tongue’s capabilities for assessing product quality.


Despite its remarkable speed and accuracy, the e-tongue possesses inherent limitations. While proficient in detecting general spoilage, it cannot discern specific chemical changes or basic tastes.

Additionally, the study advocates for prolonged storage studies to unravel microbial dynamics comprehensively, emphasizing the need for continuous refinement and validation of this transformative technology.

The Washington Wine and Grape Research Fund and the US Department of Agriculture supported the initiative.

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