Background and Aims: Research aimed to define the olfactory sensory spaces of Spanish red wines from different price segments and to determine relationships between sensory descriptors and quality as evaluated by experts.
Methods and Results: A trained panel using a frequency of citation method assessed the orthonasal sensory characteristics of 96 Spanish wines belonging to three price segments (premium; high standard; low standard). Eleven robust sensory terms were built by combining similar terms using statistical criteria. A panel of experts consistently assessed quality. Negative aroma profiles, some of them very skewed, were identified in the different sets with ‘animal’, ‘undergrowth’, ‘vegetal’, ‘dried fruit’ or ‘evolved/oxidized’ notes. While skewed aroma profiles were not necessary for achieving low quality, the role of some terms was highly dependent on the category. ‘Dried fruit’ was positive in premium wines and negative in the other categories, in which its role was played by ‘berry’. The low standard wines had to be segmented into wooded and unwooded samples to find clear relationships with quality. Satisfactory models for quality could be built in all segments.
Conclusions: Orthonasal aroma can explain wine quality. The sensory pair ‘woody/animal’ was confirmed as the most relevant and influential for wine quality. The role of the other terms depended on the category. Oxidation-related attributes are particularly detrimental to younger wines.
Significance of the Study: The results provide a reliable and complete sensory database. They identified aroma profiles related to quality, provided an insight into the hierarchies of terms and provided information that will assist in the identification of the aroma chemicals potentially involved.