There are widely divergent opinions on the number of judges required for sensory descriptive analysis (DA) with some authors saying 6 and others up to 15. Yet, there are very little data to support these numbers. Therefore, the data from three DA studies with between 14 and 22 trained judges, evaluating between 8 and 30 different red wines in triplicate using between 20 and 30 descriptors, were re-analyzed using randomly selected subsets of assessors. The results were compared using analyses of variance, multifactor analysis and Tucker-1 analyses. The results showed some variability in the minimum number of panelists that gave a stable result, but, in general, at least 8 and preferably 10 seems sufficient.


These results are comforting because clearly the standard 8–12 judges fell within the grouping. This information could be important for timing and cost constraints.