Meet the Woman Behind the AI that Tastes Wine

(Fine Dining Lovers) In the world of wine, gustatory acuity has long been the domain of experts – sommeliers defining myriad aromas and flavours that run through the taste spectrum with seemingly simple flourishes, inhalations and mouth swirls, all for your drinking pleasure. 

While an untrained nose might possibly detect the difference between red and black fruit bouquets, the trained palate can break down fresh or ripe cherries, sniff out blackberries or raspberries, and hone in on sweaty saddle and charcuterie. And, how do you decipher that when snapping up some mid-week vino from your local wine merchant or supermarket?Tastry has the answer. The California-based sensory science company has paired artificial intelligence with advanced chemistry in order to match consumers with products they will love in a bid to improve the wine experience – and beyond.

As a chemistry undergraduate studying in San Luis Obispo wine country, Katerina Axelsson worked several vintages at custom-crush wineries to help pay her way through college. It was that experience that gave her a eureka moment. Tastry’s founder and chief executive says: “I noticed some idiosyncrasies as to how wines were made and presented to consumers. We had 10,000 gallons of juice that went to different buyers who marked, branded and priced it differently. 

“While working in the wine industry, I had a hypothesis that I could objectify the process through chemistry and saw how much opportunity there was to make improvements for both consumers and wineries. I ran experiments in the lab for a couple of years, building up a database of wine chemistry with a unique methodology to see how consumers would best perceive flavours, a flavour matrix for consumers’ palates.”

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