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Sensory attributes and quality perception of red natural wines: a comparative study in Spain and France

AuthorsBallester, Jordi; Belascoin, Mirian; Gonzalez-Hernandez, Marivel; Parga-Dans, Eva CSIC ORCID ; Alonso-González, Pablo CSIC ORCID ; Sáenz-Navajas, María-Pilar CSIC ORCID
KeywordsNatural wine
sensory analysis
wine chemistry
AGROVOC Thesauruswines
Issue Date28-Feb-2024
PublisherInternational Viticulture and Enology Society
CitationOENO One, 58(1): 1-10 (2024)
AbstractAlthough the definition of natural wine remains contested and still lacks official recognition, it can be broadly described as a wine made with organic or biodynamic grapes without oenological additives in the cellar and minimal intervention in all winemaking stages. Despite growing interest in natural wines, uncertainty prevails about their sensory and quality attributes among both consumers and experts. In light of this research gap, this study aims to determine, first, if there are specific sensory dimensions allowing to differentiate natural wine as a wine category from conventional wines; second, if this sensory dimension affects the perception of the quality; and third, to characterise the physicochemical differences in terms of basic oenological parameters between natural wines and their conventional counterparts. To do so, 24 red wines (12 self-defined as natural and 12 conventional wines) were sensory and chemically characterised. The sensory evaluation was first carried out by winemakers from Spain. It consisted of a descriptive task (labelled sorting task) followed by a quality evaluation under two conditions: with and without information regarding the production method. A second panel of French experts carried out the same quality assessment, also with and without information. The aim was to find out whether expectations existed linked to each type of wine and to explore potential cross-cultural effects. The results of the labelled sorting task showed that natural wines tended to be different from conventional wines, but the difference was not clear-cut. However, natural wines were perceived to be of lower quality than their conventional counterparts, both with and without the information provided, regardless of the origin of winemakers. Results of the chemical analysis showed that natural wines presented higher values for volatile and total acidity and turbidity, while they had lower values for total and free sulphur. The study points to the existence of sensory dimensions with an impact on overall quality associated with the production method.
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