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lesschaeve2007 - 2 52 Lesschaeve Sensory Evaluation of Wine...

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Am. J. Enol. Vitic. 58:2 (2007) 252 Tasting wine has always been a part of the standard operations of a winery. Although this function was tradi- tionally assigned to one or several winemakers, the use of sensory evaluation techniques has increased since the late 1980s, especially under the leadership of Ann Noble at the University of California, Davis, who has taught good sensory practices to evaluate wine. In 2000, a sen- sory symposium was organized as part of the 50th anni- versary meeting of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture. In Noble’s introduction, she noted that winer- ies were not “taking advantage of the vast strides that have been made in sensory methods and data analysis” (Noble 2001). Case studies were presented that illustrated the benefits for medium- and large-size wineries to use good sensory practices and sensory methods in their re- search, development, and marketing programs (Chacon- Rodriguez et al. 2001, Lesschaeve 2001, de la Presa Owens 2001). A key realization of this sensory symposium was that although the wine industry valued sensory data, very few wineries were actually using sensory techniques in their winery operations, except in research and develop- ment projects and often in collaboration with academic partners. This review article examines recent contributions of sensory science in the fields of enology and viticul- ture; discusses wine-tasting expertise in the context of commercial realities; describes sensory techniques suc- cessfully used in commercial research, development and marketing research; and offers perspectives for the future. Wine Expertise and Commercial Realities The evaluation of wine quality has traditionally been in the hands of winemakers, who have the training and expe- rience to detect faulty wines and to craft wine according to a specific style. Peynaud (1996) claimed that “the role of tasting expertise is not the identification of anonymous wines, but the exercise of quality control. Its function is to judge whether a wine is free of fault, which might lessen its value or render it unfit for consumption and to see whether it has the qualities required by its denomina- tion.” In medium- to large-scale operations, winemaker ex- pertise is used to develop new wine styles based on mar- keting information and recommendations. Experienced winemakers, wine judges, and wine writers are considered wine experts by the public and by their peers. Moreover, the public views wine experts as people who can help them choose the right wine for the perfect occasion. Tho- mas and Pickering (2003) surveyed New Zealand wine con- sumers on the importance of information displayed on wine bottle labels. They found that when consumers exam- ined wine labels to determine their purchase decisions, they first look for winery, then for brand name, and then for opinions of wine experts and awards and medals.
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