SPANISH boffins have developed an electronic tongue that measures grape ripeness by analysing the acidity of the fruit and the amount of sugar in it.
And it means that this clever gadget can tell farmers when the grapes are ripe for picking.
The scientists – at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia – made the devices to measure the maturity of eight different types of grapes (Macabeo, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Bobal) in several locations of vineyards of Utiel and Requena (Valencia).
Researchers observed a good correlation between the response of the tongue and parameters analysed in traditional tests: the acidity of the fruit and its amount of sugar.
The results confirm the usefulness of these devices for controlling grape maturity and therefore, evaluate the most appropriate time for harvesting, researchers said. Among its main advantages, the tongues are cheap and portable.
“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,” said Ramon Martinez Manez, researcher at the Centre for Molecular Recognition and Technological Development (IDM) – Universitat Politecnica de Valencia.
“These devices allow performing a continuous monitoring of the process, which would result in greater control over the product, and ultimately an increase in competitiveness,” said researcher Inma Campos.