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AI that can ‘taste wine’ helping detect smoke taint in wineries affected by Cali fires

A Californian firm that taught a computer ‘how to taste wine’  is being used by winemakers to detecting smoke taint in grapes affected by the Californian wildfires.

Tastry was set up by entrepreneur Katerina Axelsson in 2016

Tastry, which was set up by 29-year old entrepreneur Katerina Axelsson in 2016, uses chemistry and AI technology to decode the flavour of products as well as the palate matrix of consumers, which provide the tools to track and predict consumer preferences for products even before they hit the shelves.

The company is now working with wineries affected by California’s wildfires, to test for smoke-taint. The team have repurposed part of their laboratory to provide testing for smoke taint indicators in order to identify viable blending options that might mask unwanted smoky flavours.

The company works direct with winemakers and retailers in the US in order to help them understand how their wines will be perceived by the consumer. The company says this gives producers “predictive visibility” through the wine chain, which will help reduce waste and avoid costly decisions.

“Until recently the wine industry has operated in a fog of intuition, with a lack of viable data to make critical business decisions,” the company said. “Manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers have had no objective way to measure and evaluate the taste, aroma, or texture of wine — or how it would be perceived by consumers.”

It added that AI could “dramatically improve a winemaker’s ability to make important, highly complex, high-volume decisions”.

“Reducing waste can cut costs, and precision agriculture can ensure companies only grow what is needed. It can help with where to send the goods to optimize inventory levels, and ensure excess resources are not used along the way.”

Smoke taint

It has also launched a partnership with a Swiss online wine merchant, The Zurich-based ecommerce operation is using Tastry to provide and advisory tool to help customers find wines they will like.

It is the Californian companh’s second collaboration with a European firm, after it worked with UK retailer Asda on an instore trial last December. This saw a wine recommendation kiosk trialled in the retailer’s Stevenage ‘innovation’ store, which matched customers’ palates to wines the computer worked out they would like.

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