Improving wine quality control using an electronic tongue

by | Apr 16, 2024 | South Africa Wine Scan

Ensuring wine quality throughout production is vital for customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Microbial spoilage organisms pose a significant risk to wine quality, requiring early detection and management of faults. While sensory panels have traditionally been used for this purpose, recent technological advancements, such as the electronic tongue (e-tongue), offer promising alternatives.


Experimental layout

In this study, Riesling wines underwent inoculation with key microbial spoilage organisms, including Wickerhamomyces anomalus (high nail polish remover and banana aromas), Acetobacter aceti (volatile acidity), Lactobacillus brevis (mousy aroma), and Pediococcus parvulus (geranium aroma). These wines were then stored under controlled conditions for 42 days. Weekly evaluations were conducted using both an electronic tongue and a rate-all-that-apply (RATA) sensory panel.


Main findings

The results demonstrated the effectiveness of the electronic tongue in detecting chemical changes indicative of microbial spoilage in Riesling wines. Within just seven days of storage, the e-tongue successfully identified differences in wines inoculated with spoilage microorganisms compared to control samples. In contrast, the sensory panel detected significant differences only after 35 days of storage, highlighting the superior sensitivity of the e-tongue in early fault detection.


Significance of the study

By leveraging instrumental techniques like the electronic tongue, winemakers can identify chemical changes associated with microbial spoilage well before they become perceptible to human senses. This early detection enables timely intervention, ensuring that wines meet quality standards and consumer expectations. The e-tongue complements traditional sensory evaluation methods, offering a comprehensive approach to fault detection in wine production.



Potter, R. I., Warren, C. A., Lee, J., & Ross, C. F. (2024). Comparative assessment of Riesling wine fault development by the electronic tongue and a sensory panel. Journal of Food Science.


Image: PickPik






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