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The sommelier with an electronic tongue (and nose)

scientists are developing electronic tongues and noses to test and taste wines.

You walk into your local Bev Mo' or Safeway and you see that some chap with a posh name has given the Chateau Vers Les Colines 90 points.

So it must be worth the $59.99.

But why trust the chap- he's probably half cut when he tries half the wines he recommends- when you can put your faith in the electronic tongue?

Apparently, scientists are now developing an electronic sommelicker that will hopefully prove, like all old Popes and new technologies, infallible.

The tongues are built onto something called a multisensor (oh, you're techies, you'll know what I mean, even if I don't) and consist of tiny membranes, not entirely dissimilar to the human tongue.

I know of no sommeliers with a pierced tongue Rodrigo Galindez

Each of these membranes has a particular taste expertise and is therefore able to distinguish one wine constituent from another. For example, sweet, savory and, um, corked.

Developed by the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics, the electrotongue has already perfected a taste for four different grapes; Chardonnay, Macabeu, Malvasia and Airen.

The real beauty is that the tongue is designed to be portable, so, presumably, when you go off to a posh restaurant, you can take it with you and be a real expert when the sommelier of snootiness asks you to taste the wine while simultaneously tossing you a look of disdain most humans only reserve for inedible vermin.

Just imagine turning to the supercilious apogee of biliousness, fixing him with the neutral air of a tenured professor and saying: "Fourteen per cent off on acidity and a big thirty-two per cent on savoriness."

Given this development, you will no doubt be sanguine on hearing that scientists are also trying to develop an electronic nose.

Not for Wall Street traders, strangely enough. But for sniffing out explosives in the air as well as identifying whether that $54,000 bottle of wine someone talked you in to buying at a charity auction really did come from a bottle rather than a box.

It is always deeply delightful to hear of technologies that are genuinely and unequivocally uplifting for humanity.

I think I'll have a glass of Honig Cabernet Sauvignon to celebrate.

My nose, which is not yet powered by new technology, gives it 95 points.