But an electronic tongue developed by Washington State University is as sharp on the first taste as it is on the last taste of the day, according to a news release.
If need be, it can taste round the clock.
No where is taste more critical than in the wine industry.
The e-tongue works by dipping a "tongue" into a beaker on a rotating platform known as an autosampler.
It then evaluates for a number of sensory attributes, such as metallic, savory, sweet and bitter.
After a brief pause to run the evaluation on a molecular level, the tongue moves to the next beaker.
Although it never fatigues, the e-tongue won't replace human taste panels and sommeliers, at least not in the near future.
The mechanical sensor, for example, can't pick up subtle nuances within a wine, such as mouthfeel, tanic or "chewy."
The human tongue is the primary taste organ of the body,” Charles Diako, a doctoral candidate working with the e-tongue, said in the release. “Being a living tissue and being integrated with the most sophisticated computer the world has ever known—the brain—its perception of taste is absolutely matchless.”
Where the e-tongue excels is in evaluating a large number of wines with standardized and objective measurements.
The university's sensory lab is currently looking at 60 red wines from the state and plans a follow-up study on the same number of white wines from Washington.
The information will be useful to growers and winemakers, since a good wine begins with good grapes and good vineyard cultural practices, according to the release.