Why infrared wine analysis just got easier

To coincide with the launch of the innovative OenoFoss™ 2 wine analyser, we caught up with Søren Thiis Heide, program director for wine and beer R&D at FOSS, to find out more about the device and what makes it a savvy investment.


Ask the Expert: Søren Thiis Heide, FOSS


How does the OenoFoss™ 2 work?

It’s a fast and easy-to-use solution where the winemaker can take a sample of wine or must, place it under the pipette and press play. The next thing you see is the values on the screen for various parameters, including sugar, alcohol, acid; whatever the winemaker needs to know about, providing them with the insight to make informed decisions on when to pick, controlling fermentation and when to bottle. The whole process takes just over a minute.


One of the perks of the OenoFoss™ 2 is that it allows you to test sparkling samples and must under fermentation without having to de-gas the sample. There’s no need for sample preparation or cleaning, as it self-cleans between tests.


What excites you about this new model?

We’ve taken a big leap with this fantastic little machine and the legacy we’ve built into it. On the outside it looks similar to others on the market, but the mathematics built into it stands on the shoulders of all of the knowledge, experience and expertise that FOSS has built up since 1999. Every single sample we’ve measured over the last 23 years has been input into this machine, which makes it a compelling proposition.


From a qualitative point of view, the OenoFoss™ 2 is matched to the industry-standard FOSS WineScan analyser. All models are based on mathematical algorithms from hundreds of thousands of wine and must sample references from around the world.


What’s new and different about the OenoFoss™ 2 compared to the OenoFoss™?
In addition to the mathematical data already mentioned, the instrument is more user-independent because it has a flow system that allows the user to simply present the sample to the machine. The first OenoFoss™ is also a fantastic instrument, but it uses a method that’s more dependent on the skills of the user. With the new device, the winemaker can focus on making wine and the machine will provide the data. It’s much easier to get started with it.


What parameters can you measure with the machine?*
The OenoFoss™ 2 can measure up to 34 different parameters, from ethanol, glucose and fructose to volatile acidity. We’ve also added a sucrose measurement that can be used when making a dosage in traditional method sparkling wine.


Do you need training to use it?
Anyone can use it – it doesn’t require special training or expertise as the software is intuitive. It’s an instrument that can grow alongside your needs as a winery. It comes with an instruction manual and there’s a welcome letter with a QR code in the box, which takes you to a dedicated website when you scan it that guides you through the installation, so it’s really easy to set up. From a closed box to a fully working instrument takes around 12 minutes.


How is it able to measure so many things so quickly?
The OenoFoss™ 2 provides all the parameters in one go through the power of Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) technology, which involves infrared scanning of must or wine samples. Infrared light is shone through the sample, and through mathematical modelling and spectrum analysis, the different values are determined in just over a minute. What sets the OenoFoss™ 2 apart is its ability to quickly analyse sparkling samples. The infrared spectrum doesn’t like bubbles, and those wishing to analyse sparkling samples with the original OenoFoss™ had to de-gas them first.


We’ve since developed a new ingenious way of presenting the sparkling sample to the spectrum, which is done so gently that no bubbles will enter the system in the area where the measurements take place, meaning no need to de-gas fermenting must samples, which can be placed directly into the machine. Sparkling wine samples can also be analysed directly from the bottle, though this takes a bit longer. It makes the process so much easier for sparkling winemakers.


Who is the equipment aimed at and who will benefit most from it?
What we’ve leaned with launching these smaller instruments is that they’re attractive to a broader range of customers than we first thought. We initially thought they were for smaller wineries with less measuring needs, or for smaller co-ops and wineries looking to join together and buy a machine to share. We’ve also seen interest from bottlers – instead of having one WineScan™, they buy three of these, so it’s able to offer value on a broad scale.


The instrument includes data we’ve obtained over our whole history, so the value corresponds well to other instruments like the WineScan™. A big winery might have a WineScan™ at the main site and an OneoFoss™ 2 at its smaller site. I’m sure that when it hits the market our sales guys will find new ways of providing value to our customers with this instrument.


What makes the OenoFoss™ 2 worth investing in over your competitors?
It’s a simple instrument that we’ve been working on for many years, and a very robust solution that can handle most things that are thrown at it. We have some competitors in the same price range offering solutions that are that more or less the same on paper. So why should they choose FOSS over our competitors? One thing is the sample handling, and the fact that there’s need to de-gas sparkling samples. The other really good reason is the legacy that our mathematical models are based on, which is our whole history since 1999. Another important thing to consider is our reputation for robustness and our level of service. Our sales team is very talented and provides a quick, quality service. Our customers are harvesting one month a year and their machines have to run smoothly during that month and they need to be serviced quickly if they have issues. We have a fantastic service team that can get on-site around the world very quickly.



Søren Thiis Heide: "The easier something is to use the harder it was to make”


Why is it particularly good for measuring sparkling wine samples?
Our old solutions did more or less the same thing but in a different way. This is the first instrument in its field without the need to de-gas sparkling samples. We will be targeting sparkling producers as they need this for their sample intake. They don’t always have trained operators, so they need equipment that’s easy to use to allow them to get going on it straight away. It will be much easier for sparkling samples to be easily and rapidly analysed with the OenoFoss™ 2, so the cellar master can get on with the important business of making wine.


The package that is proposed here is very attractive, as it’s easy for the sales force to understand, easy for service people to service and easy for the operator to use, so it’s a very alluring package all round. It gives you a super performance every time without the need for a trained operator. You just need to put the sample under the pipette and press play.


Can you tell me a bit about the calibration data it’s built upon?
The calibration data is all the data we’ve collected since 1999. Every time we measure a sample it has a reference from accredited labs in France, Italy and Germany. So when a sample is analysed, our analytics package will give the values that the user needs based on all the data that we’ve accrued from over 100,000 samples, which is what differentiates us from our competitors. The OenoFoss™ 2 is ready to use from the box, and will have all the analytics packages that the customer has chosen. They can add any parameter they like.


Getting within the ballpark of a good result isn’t difficult. Getting it very, very close to the true result is more difficult. The first 90% is pretty easy, the last 10% is difficult, and that’s where we’ve been looking very deeply into the data. We know our samples, customers and equipment incredibly well, so we can get the last 10% of performance out of our analysers.


How does it help the winemaker in their pursuit of precision?
We can get very close to the true answer of a wine’s chemical composition with the OenoFoss™ 2. We have data analysts, physicists, electronic engineers and mechanical engineers all coming together and collaborating very closely to make this solution work. It’s a team effort, which gives us our strength and helps us to add value for our customers.

Is it simple and easy to run and back up?
We have planned maintenance for it every second year, as it’s a really robust instrument. It has intelligence built into it and is self-cleaning after you measure a sample. When it needs to run a zero setting it will tell the user. Some of the biggest value we provide is that the instrument keeps itself running with minimum user interaction.


What aftercare comes with it?
You can build it up to whatever needs you have, which makes it really versatile. Champagne producers will need certain parameters, bottlers in Denmark will need others. It can be built it to fit your needs. We also have different SmartCare solutions to suit every need. The machine is monitored every month to make sure it’s running properly and customers can back up their data and readings on our cloud, so the instrument can be restored if it needs to be rebooted, keeping data safe and traceable. Things are moving in a digital direction and we’re ready for it.


What is someone already has a FOSS analyser – is it worth getting the OenoFoss™ 2 as well?
It’s worth having both actually. If you have a WineScan™ in your lab then the OenoFoss™ 2 can complement it really well in the cellar as a good companion. It provides value where old instruments didn’t, as it’s so easy to use. Some of the older OenoFoss models may be in need of replacing and the OenoFoss™ 2 is the ideal solution.


In what ways is the OenoFoss™ 2 a game-changer when it comes to analytics?
It’s easy for everyone: for the winemaker seeking sample analysis and the service team looking to keep it running smoothly, to the sales team keen to explain its added value. We’ve spent a lot of time working on the data analysis and the mathematics behind it. As is often the case in life, the easier something is to use the harder it was to make. We’ve put the effort in at the design stage so our customers have less to do to get the results they’re looking for.


To find out more about OenoFoss™ 2, and how it can help you gain more control over the winemaking process, click here.