Fingerprinting as approach to unlock black box of taste

The black box of taste is getting unlocked. The starting point is to distinguish taste from tasting. Consider taste as a product characteristic; tasting is a sensorial activity. Consequently, taste can be studied on a molecular level and therefore be assessed more objectively, whilst tasting is a human activity and by definition subjective.

P. Klosse (2004) developed a model to describe taste. This model has been further developed and tested in practice to analyse the taste profile of wines and beers. Mouthfeel sensations and their intensities are the key parameters of this model. Three classes of mouthfeel are distinguished: ‘contracting’, ‘coating’ and ‘drying’. The molecular compounds and the intensity of their contribution to mouthfeel have been identified, just like interaction effects. Newly developed instruments are used to measure the physico-chemical characteristics of these molecules. The individual scores of coating, contracting and drying elements of a sample give a ‘fingerprint’. A computer model calculates the coordinate that indicates the taste of the product.

This system has been successfully tested to classify wines and beers. Results indicate this approach gives useful insights in flavor composition. From a production perspective these insights can be used to enhance desired or suppress undesired compounds. The fingerprints allow an objective comparison of different wines. From a commercial perspective, producers can gather insights in consumer liking. In addition, the consumer gets more certainty that the purchased wine meets his expectations. Furthermore, the profile can be used in food pairing and as a basis for machine learning. The first web application of this approach has been introduced to the market. 

Authors: Peter Klosse1*, Boudewijn Klosse2, Georgios Agorastos3, Adam Dijkstra4 

1 The Academy for Scientific Taste Evaluation, T.A.S.T.E. foundation, Garstkampsestraat 11, 6611 KS Overasselt, The Netherlands
2 Tasters International, Amersfoortseweg 90, 7346AA Hoog Soeren, The Netherland
3 Faculty of Science and Engineering department, Maastricht University Campus Venlo, Maastricht University, 5911 AA Venlo, The Netherlands
4 Analysis Center De Colonjes, Bredeweg 2, 6562 DE Groesbeek, The Netherlands

*Email: contact@tasteresearch.org

Keywords: fingerprinting, mouthfeel model, classification, chemometrics, consumer preferences, taste

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