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New research sheds light on flavour additives in wine
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Wine drinkers are not only more accepting of natural flavourings in wine than they are of traditional additives, but new research shows they also prefer the taste.
University of Adelaide PhD student Yaelle Saltman is investigating the potential of natural flavour additives to lift the quality of average-tasting wines in the $10–15 bracket, writes Kellie Arbuckle in the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine.
“What I am researching is how to take lesser quality wines, perhaps due to a poor vintage such as the wet 2010–11 season, and improve their aroma, complexity and flavour,” Saltman said.
The research, which will be presented this month at the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference, draws on results from Saltman’s earlier work which showed that consumers are generally accepting of natural flavourings in wine.
The findings were based on a nationwide consumer survey of about 1300 people, which questioned respondents’ acceptance of additives in food and wine according to their level of knowledge.
Respondents were asked to rank on a scale of one to nine their level of acceptance of possible additives to wine for flavour enhancement. The list of additives included natural and artificial flavourings as well as many that are already commonly used in winemaking such as preservatives, acid, oak chips, milk and egg whites.
Saltman said the respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of natural flavour additives being added to wine.
“The most interesting finding was that natural flavours were significantly more accepted than many additives already used in wine such as preservatives and tartaric acid,” Saltman said.
Natural flavourings ranked about seven out of nine, while tartaric acid ranked around three and artificial flavourings were completely rejected.
“When it comes to natural flavours, consumers have shown they are quite accepting which is really good because it’s given us the green light to look at how natural flavourings can enhance wine quality,” Saltman said.
In addition to accepting natural flavour additives, consumers have also shown they prefer the wines that contain natural flavour additions over those without them.
In reaching this conclusion, Saltman formed consumer focus groups for participants to blind taste four prototype wines that had been developed by adding one or more flavours to the base wines (two Chardonnay and two Shiraz).
Data collected from consumer focus groups found that most consumers found the flavoured wines to be more complex, to have a pleasant mouth feel, an uplifting nose and to be less bitter.
When asked if they would consider purchasing/drinking wines with added natural flavours the majority of consumers (in particular consumers younger than 35) indicated they would drink/buy such wines provided “they tasted better”.
While current laws prohibit the addition of flavourings to wine, Saltman believes her research has the potential to change the mindset of industry about what has traditionally been a controversial topic.
“If we can improve the quality of lower price point wines and consumers are accepting of this practice, then why not use it? Natural flavour additives could help Australian wines compete with other New World producers at similar price points,” she said.
The full version of this story features in the July issue of the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine, out soon.
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