Can Data Mining Improve The Taste of Wine?

July 24, 2012 Lauren Volpi

© Paul Blow

You don’t have to be a master sommelier to know what kind of wine you prefer, but there may be some science behind what terrain, weather patterns, and distillation process makes great tasting wine. Or does it? Food & Wine Magazine published an article about Silicon Valley tech giants who start wineries, keep their day jobs, and apply data technology to learn more about how to make great wine.

At Clos de la Tech winery, owner T.J. Rodgers, who’s also the CEO of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation, uses a spectrophotometer to quantify the level of antioxidants found in high-scoring wines. Another winemaker from Kendall-Jackson placed sensors on individual grapes to measure water, and ripeness levels – thus providing massive amounts of data.

How does one apply all of that data when making fantastic tasting vino? The things that one can measure in the makeup of wine (Brix, acidity, pH) may be irrelevant when you have a good harvest year, ripe fruit, and a very talented wine maker. At the end of the day, winemaking is a form of art, and all that data may be intangible when you apply your natural senses of sight, smell, and taste to make a good wine.

Something to ponder the next time you are sipping a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

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