Aims: Establishing an image of fine wine through the Geographical Indication (GI) system is of interest to the Australian wine sector. Beyond provenance, the sensory experience of fine wine is often linked to consumption with appropriate foods. For this purpose, studies were undertaken to understand consumer perceptions of what constitutes a fine wine, which sensory and chemical factors may define fine Australian Chardonnay and Shiraz wines from various regions, the sensory attributes driving appropriate food and wine pairings, and how these relate to consumer perceptions of provenance, the overall consumer experience and memorability.
Methods and Results: An online survey was conducted with Australian wine consumers (n = 349) to generate a consumer driven definition of fine Australian wine (FAW) based on sensory attributes, grape variety, wine region, label information, and food pairing, and to assess how that definition differs as a function of consumer wine involvement. Overall, consumers valued provenance, and highly involved wine Enthusiasts appeared to utilise more information and had broader sensory vocabularies than Aspirant and No Frills consumers. Exploring the regional typicality of commercially available FAW, Chardonnay wines (2015 vintage) from Margaret River (n = 16) and Yarra Valley (n = 16); and Shiraz wines (2014 vintage) from Barossa Valley (n = 16) and McLaren Vale (n = 15), were selected for descriptive sensory analysis and underwent profiling of volatiles by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. For both grape varieties, there was large variability in wine styles within the same GI, meaning winemaking intervention is important for regional/sub-regional typicality, which therefore cannot be determined solely on geographic origin of the fruit. Nonetheless, a combination of sensory markers and volatile profiles allowed the building of regional typicality models, although consumers may not perceive subtle sub-regional differences in sensory attributes. The food and wine pairing-related gastronomic experiences were explored under blind and informed (wine provenance) conditions. Based on descriptive analyses, specific food and wine pairings (n = 8) were selected for consumer tastings (n = 151), which explored the pre-consumption, core-consumption, and post-consumption experiences in relation to the sensory profiles of the pairings. During core-consumption, information level significantly impacted ratings for sensory complexity and a range of emotions. Appropriate pairings corresponded with increased liking, sensory complexity, and expected prices for wine, and evoked emotions of positive valence. In the post-consumption experience, information level affected the vividness of the tasting, whereas the most appropriate pairings commanded significant vividness, remembered liking, memorability, and loyalty ratings.
Conclusion: Although regional typicality can be modelled using volatile composition and sensory attributes, consumers may not perceive these differences in tasting. The results from this study of sensory profiles and preferred food pairings for FAW from several regions can help the wine production, marketing and hospitality sectors tailor their services and communications to incorporate fine wines in their region-specific marketing. Consequently, appropriate food and wine pairings may be an important marketing strategy to develop and promote provenance and positive gastronomic experiences, and using a Wine:Food strategy, rather than wine alone, could provide wine businesses with higher customer satisfaction and spending.
Keywords: Wine attributes, sensory memory, food pairing, emotion measurement, wine marketing, wine business
Authors: Marcell Kustos1*, David W. Jeffery1, Steven Goodman2, Hildegarde Heymann3, Susan E.P. Bastian1
1School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide (UA), Waite Research Institute, PMB 1, Glen Osmond, South Australia 5064 Australia
2Business School, The University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005 Australia
3Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California at Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616-5270, USA