Japanese Sniff Cam: The Shape of Your Wine Glass Matters


Just when you thought the news about robots roaming the skies above the vineyards or the earth below  had come to an end, the Royal Society of Chemistry's online publication, Chemistry World, released a report about Japanese scientists led by Kohji Mitsubayashi who created a machine which uses visual cues to determine the scent of a wine.
“Different glass shapes and temperatures can bring out completely different bouquets and finishes from the same wine,” the Chemistry World's Jennifer Newton wrote. “So Mitsubayashi's team analysed different wines, in different glasses  – including different shaped wine glasses, a martini glass and a straight glass – at different temperatures.”
The camera ( known as the “sniffer-camera”) works in concert with a mesh panel placed on top of the wine glass. The panel is infused with an enzyme that changes certain elements of a wine's aroma. This allows the camera to “photograph” the different aromas and record their ethanol content.
“When this mesh is placed on top of a wine glass, colour images from a camera watching over the mesh … can be interpreted to map the concentration distribution of ethanol leaving the glass,” Newton said. 
As the scientists tested different wines with different glasses and different temperatures, interesting numbers arose. 
“At 13 degrees Celsius, the alcohol concentration in the centre of the wine glass was lower than that around the rim,” Newton wrote. “Wine served at a higher temperature, or from the martini (glass) or straight glass, did not exhibit a ring-shaped vapour pattern.”
The ring-shaped pattern of an aroma is important because it allows the oenophile to smell the wine without any gaseous ethanol interference, Mitsubayashi told Newton. 
“Accordingly,” he said, “wine glass shape has a very sophisticated functional design for tasting and enjoying wine.”
A photo of the camera accompanied Newton's story. The photograph shows a sturdy tripod standing behind a glass of red wine. A nondescript camera is fastened to the top of the camera. It's lens is pointing downward into the mouth of the glass, which is covered by a slice of mesh held in place by forceps. 
Régis Gougeon, a Burgundy wine scientists, said the sniffer-cam is a useful creation.
“Bearing in mind the flavour enhancer properties of ethanol, this work provides an unprecedented image of the claimed impact of glass geometry on the overall complex wine flavour perception,” Gougeon said, “thus validating the search for optimum adequation between a glass and a wine.”

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