Exploring minerality of Burgundy Chardonnay wines: a sensory approach with wine experts and trained panellists
Background and Aims
The use of minerality as a wine descriptor has increased in the last few years. Minerality always suggests high quality and evokes a link between wine and the soil. The sensory meaning of minerality, however, is not yet clearly understood. The present study was designed to understand how wine experts conceptualise minerality and to explore whether they can judge wine minerality in a consensual way.
Methods and Results
Experts carried out an orthonasal free sorting task on 16 Chardonnay wines. Afterwards, they rated their mineral character according to two conditions: orthonasally and on the palate while wearing a nose-clip. The experts also answered a questionnaire in which they defined minerality. A trained panel independently performed a sensory description of the samples. The wine experts showed strong disagreement in their minerality judgements under both conditions. Three groups of experts emerged for each condition. Each group considered as mineral wines with quite different sensory characteristics which prevents any generalisation concerning the sensory meaning of minerality. Surprisingly, definitions of minerality by the experts showed some commonality despite the use of idiosyncratic terms.
Minerality is an ill-defined sensory concept, despite the apparent consistency emerging from verbal definitions by the experts.
Significance of the Study
Minerality is nowadays a popular term in wine marketing. Some attempts to understand its chemical origin have been made; however, this study has shown that a sensory definition of minerality should first be developed.