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ABSTRACT

This study investigated the relationship between sensitivity to the bitterness of 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) – a genetically determined trait used as an index of general taste acuity – and a range of oral sensations elicited by 16 varietal red wines. Seventeen subjects were trained using descriptive analysis (DA) techniques and developed a lexicon consisting of three taste and 10 tactile attributes representing sensations experienced both in-mouth (IM) and after expectoration (AE). Analysis of variance showed that PROP super-tasters (ST) (n = 8) rated 11 of these 13 sensations differently compared to PROP nontasters (NT) (n = 8), specifically acidity, saltiness, heat/irritation, tingle/prickle, particulate IM, particulate AE, smoothness IM, smoothness AE, grippy/adhesive, mouthcoat and overall astringency. The greater sensitivity of ST to the textural components of red wine is discussed in the context of greater lingual acuity and implications for DA panels, psychophysics and wine consumer behavior.