A standard methodology for the sensory analysis of wine is developed

Research involving the University of the Basque Country has resulted in a methodology to reliably and objectively analyse the sensory characteristics of wine. This is a standard tool that uses a single methodology to analyse the gustatory, olfactory and visual properties of different types of wine from the 11 Catalan designations of origin, and which can easily be applied to other designations of origin.

For a wine to be awarded the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) certification, it has to meet certain requirements (e.g. geographical, production, physico-chemical and sensory…). The European regulation establishing these conditions was renewed in 2013, and since then the sensory characteristics of each type of wine produced in a PDO must be explicitly stated in the specifications. The incorporation of this regulatory requirement entailed the need to set up laboratories and methods that would allow reliable sensory analysis of the gustatory, olfactory and visual characteristics of wines to be made, so that they could be verified by the corresponding competent body.

Given that sensory characteristics are perceived through the senses, one of the challenges facing the industry was to make the methods of analysis as objective as possible. And what was of interest at the same time was that a method did not have to be developed for each type of wine. In other words, that there should be a standard tool that could be used to evaluate different wine products. At that time it did not exist and, even today, no internationally harmonised method is used, unlike other products with designation of origin, such as virgin olive oil, for example.

In this context, in collaboration with the Catalan Institute of Vines and Wines (INCAVI) and the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA), the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) has made a major contribution: it has developed a standard methodology for the sensory analysis of wine from the 11 Catalan designations of origin. When the project was launched in 2016, there was only one sensory analysis method in Spain.

It had been developed by the Laboratory of Sensorial Analysis of the University of the Basque Country (LASEHU) to analyse two specific types of wine: unoaked red wine from the Rioja Alavesa region and white Txakoli. “We had 37 types of wine grouped into 11 PDOs. So coming up with a model for each of them was not feasible; so we decided to propose a different strategy that was less specific to a particular type of wine,” explained Anna Gomis-Bellmunt, one of the authors of the study.

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