On the meaning of looking for terroir perceptions in blind tastings

If one considers as “physical or sensory attributes” of a wine its concentrations of alcohol and of other substances, it can be stated that another class of attributes exists, which can be called “metaphysical attributes”, mainly linked to feelings ignited by terroir information. Therefore, wine consumers can be divided in two categories: a) the common consumer, who drinks wine as a hedonistic experience, focusing in the physical attributes (taste, aroma, texture); b) the wine lover, who, besides asking for these basic pleasures, longs for metaphysical or spiritual information, which comes along with data on the production region, its traditions and landscape, the vineyard, winemaking methods and culture, and on the winemaker’s persona. All these metaphysical information are lost in blind tastings, where, primarily, the physical attributes are sensed.

Measurements of chemicals in wines from different terroirs tend to indicate that typicity can be detected; nevertheless, variations in vintage, clones, assemblages, and methods give variability even to terroir wines. In a blind tasting, the eventual identification of terroir characteristics makes a call to the memory, which is not an exact recorder This work reports results from 30 blind tasting sessions, focused on wines from dozens of viticultural regions; it reports also results from seven non-blind tastings of handcrafted wines from the same producer, performed in the winery, as reported in the media. Results show that, even in panels of veteran tasters, terroir attributes are heavily lost in blind tastings; however, reports from non-blind tastings are remarkably focused in a few descriptors. It is concluded that perception of the terroir component, and so, the terroir value, is deeply linked to knowledge of metaphysical attributes, being, nevertheless, consistent from a sensorial perspective.

Authors: Jorge DUCATI (1,2), Vilmar BETTÚ (3)

(1) Centro Estadual de Pesquisas em Sensoriamento Remoto e Meteorologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Bento Gonçalves 9500, Porto Alegre, Brazil
(2) Sociedade Brasileira dos Amigos do Vinho – Regional Sul, Rua Liberdade 120, Porto Alegre, Brazil
(3) Reliquiæ Vini, Estrada do Sabor, Estrada Geral Sao Gabriel, Garibaldi, Brazil

Email: ducati@if.ufrgs.br

Keywords: wine attributes, sensory perception, taste of place

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