The Newest Wine Testing Technology and Its Impact on Analytics

by | Jun 4, 2024 | Wine & Spirits

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Even if you’ve never been to a wine tasting, you most likely have an idea of the process. A sniff. A swish. Then a swallow or a spit. It is far from a highly technological process, but the more experience someone has tasting wines, the more accurate their judgments can be.

Tasting a bottle of wine is the final step in a long process that could take weeks or months or even years. Before a wine comes close to the taste test, there are all kinds of other tests involved in winemaking. Here’s a look at one of the latest testing technologies, and how some of that data factors into the work on a vineyard.

Electronic tongue technology

One of the tests in a wine’s development is fault monitoring, where a wine is checked for the presence of microbiological spoilage organisms that can affect the wine chemically. This can result in changes to a wine’s aroma or taste. Traditional winemakers will test for these spoilages using their own senses, but there are also lab procedures that can help detect their presence at various stages.

One of the newest technologies is electronic tongue, or “e-tongue,” technology. Washington State University researchers conducted a study in which the e-tongue was able to detect spoilage microorganisms 28 days before a sensory panel made up of people. That means a winemaker could be alerted to any problems in its process as much as 4 weeks sooner than before, depending on which detection processes they had been using previously.



Looking for efficiencies

Quality winemakers don’t want to rush their product. But just as in any industry, technology that can help speed up processes is usually welcomed with open arms. There are many variables involved in wine production, and there have been developments over the years in the ways those variables are measured and data is collected.

For many winemakers, the industry is about more than making wine. There are business decisions to be made, such as whether to acquire land or expand a vineyard. There are also considerations to be made about growing grapes, from the quality of the soil to the amount of sunlight or precipitation the land gets. For winemakers, technology can help provide an edge not only in keeping track of all of that information, but also interpreting the information in a form that can help important decisions be made.

Data could make the difference

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the winemaking industry. Everyone is looking to replicate their own ideal conditions for their individual product, and those conditions are often unique to each winemaker. The tools they use to help ensure those conditions are met vary depending on their processes. A drone that can collect vast amounts of data from grapes across a large vineyard, for instance, might not be worth the investment for a smaller organization. When it comes to something like electronic tongue technology, analysis times vary from winery to winery, and even within a winery are often different depending on the type of wine. One vineyard’s time-saving technology could be just wasting time for another one. On top of that, you don’t need analytics to tell you that e-tongue technology can shave 28 days off a part of product testing. Analytics is there to tell you how you might be able to make the best use out of those extra days.

It is important, then, that an analytics solution is flexible enough to meet an individual winemaker’s needs. Analytics can take all of the information that can be gathered and turn it into actionable insight about other processes, but the data is meaningless unless it can be customized to meet the needs of your organization. The same applies to getting the product to customers. Once all of the testing is complete and the bottled wine is ready to be sold, analytics can inform business decisions such as where products sell the best.

You can’t sniff or taste an analytics solution to figure out if it’s the one for you. But you can look at similar organizations and see the impact it has had on them and whether the same type of work can be done for you. You can also talk to a vendor and see how a solution could fit your individual needs. You may never be able to develop a palate for wine tasting, but you probably already have the experience necessary to make the right call on what technology is best for your business needs.

John Sucich
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