Finish Your Wine: WSU Researchers Explore White Wine Finish and Consumer Preferences
“I was teaching a sensory evaluation class which Emily Goodstein was in, and she got interested in time intensity — how long a sensation lingers on the palate,” said Carolyn Ross, an associate professor of food science at WSU and a leading sensory analysis expert. Ross drew an analogy between the time intensity of wine with that of chewing gum: the longer you chew, the less flavor you perceive in the gum. Although much more complex, wine is similar in that its flavor changes and diminishes over the time it is in your mouth.
Time intensity studies are an integral part of a branch of food science called sensory analysis. Sensory analysis combines experimental design with statistical analysis to evaluate consumer products. Many large companies employ sensory analysts to help guide decisions about product development, merchandising, and marketing.
The time intensity question that interested Goodstein is one commonly seen on bottles of Chardonnay with a phrase claiming, for instance, that the wine inside has a “long, oaky finish.” How, she and Ross wondered, could they unpack that phrase in order to test it scientifically and also to get an idea of what it means to consumers? In other words, how long is long and what are consumer willing to pay for wines with a long finish?
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