Meet the Robo Wine Snob

Infrared spectrometer as taste tester

The PopSci staff is a diverse group with wide-ranging interests—our extracurricular activities include, in no particular order, hand-stand classes, sci-fi conventions, kickball, triathlons, furries…and we even have a factchecker who plays in a gamelan ensemble. But there are two things dear to every _PopSci_er’s heart: robots and tasty alcoholic beverages.

Perhaps you saw how we nearly peed our pants over the LazyDrinker—that beta-version of the ultimate robot bartender. Well, last month the latest in robotic drinking technology was unveiled in Japan, and we are once again freaking out.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce Winebot, the robot sommelier. Developed by researchers at Tsu-based NEC System Technologies and Mie University, the cute little green-and-white prototype “tastes” wines using an infrared spectrometer and identifies the variety and vintage, tells you about the flavor (“full-bodied shiraz,” “buttery chardonnay,” etc), and even recommends foods that would go well with the bottle.

There are still a few kinks being worked out—at the unveiling the bot identified a reporter’s hand as proscuitto—but, come on, whatever. This thing is amazing! The only problem I can foresee with owning a toy like this is that it might tell us how crappy Two-Buck Chuck actually is. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, you know. —Megan Miller