Science finds wines' fruity flavors fade first

May 05, 2014

PULLMAN, Wash. - Testing conventional wisdom with science, recently published research from Washington State University reveals how different flavors "finish," or linger, on the palate following a sip of wine.

"A longer finish is associated with a higher quality wine, but what the finish is, of course, makes a huge difference," said sensory scientist Carolyn Ross.

The study is one of the first to look at how different flavor components finish when standing alone or interacting with other compounds in white wines. The idea for the work began with a question from one of Ross' students in a wine and food sensory science class.

"We were talking about flavor finish and which compounds finish later or earlier," Ross explained. "I said, well, anecdotally, fruity flavors finish earlier while others, like steak or oak, finish later."

In a recent article in the journal Food Quality and Preference, Ross explains how her team trained panelists to identify and measure fruity, floral, mushroom and oaky (or coconut) compounds in wines. They found that, indeed, fruity flavor perception disappears from the palate earlier than oaky, floral and earth flavors perception.

The researchers chose the fruity, floral, mushroom and oaky compounds to reflect the diversity of the wine aroma wheel.

"There can be hundreds of different flavor compounds in wine," said former graduate student and co-author Emily Goodstein, referring to the intricate relationship between taste, aroma and flavor. "We wanted to ask: What finishes longer? Are these assumptions really supported? Can we back it up with some sensory data?"
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Washington State University

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