Australian wine producers have a myriad of objectives when they produce wine. An important objective is ensuring their wine has a strong base of repeat purchase consumers. A key aspect of this is to produce wine that consumers want to drink. Consumer testing, in conjunction with trained sensory panel data using formal sensory evaluation methods, provides knowledge of the properties of wines that are of importance to consumer preferences in target markets.
The direct linking of preference to sensory attributes, chemical compositional attributes and production methods (such as choice of yeast strains, oak treatment or grape ripeness) is a powerful means for aligning wine styles to consumer needs. Consumer testing provides clear targets for all producers, including companies filling niche market requirements, to make wine style and marketing decisions.
In a recent large study evaluating preferences of consumers in China for red wines, it was found that lighter, slightly sweeter wines were generally preferred by most consumers, and a degree of bitterness, as well as astringency and sourness, were among the attributes negatively driving consumer response.
The effect of bottle closure on consumer taste preference was investigated, and it was found that surprisingly low levels of cork taint, oxidised or sulfide related aroma affected strongly the preference of groups of consumers. Regarding fruit-related flavour, an additional study explored different levels of the pepper compound (rotundone), the eucalyptus aroma compound (eucalyptol), and the smoky compound (guaiacol) on consumer liking. Once again, different groups of consumers responded to these compounds.
Combining sensory assessment with non-sensory cues has given insight into attributes of wines that most influence consumer choice. This work was conducted with Professor Larry Lockshin of the University of South Australia.
Studies have investigated aspects such as levels of tropical fruit flavour and green capsicum-like flavour in Sauvignon Blanc wines; whether consumers’ preferences will change with short-term exposure to wines not familiar to them; and the degree of tolerance to higher alcohol and richer fruit flavour in Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines made from fruit picked at different harvest dates.
- Studies on consumer preference show that consumers can react strongly to quite subtle sensory properties, especially those related to off-flavours or out of balance wines.
What it means for grape and wine producers
Producers have greater confidence in producing wines for specific target markets.
Project leader: Dr Leigh Francis
Project team members:
King, E.S., Kievit, R.L., Curtin, C., Swiegers, J.H., Pretorius, I.S., Bastian, S.E.P., Leigh Francis, I. (2010). The effect of multiple yeasts co-inoculations on Sauvignon Blanc wine aroma composition, sensory properties and consumer preference. Food Chemistry 122 (3): 618-626. (click here to order).
Lattey, K.A., Bramley, B.R., Francis, I.L. 2010. Consumer acceptability, sensory properties and expert quality judgements of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wines. Aust. J. Grape Wine Res. 16 (1): 189-202. (click here to order).
Mueller, S., Osidacz, P., Francis, I.L., Lockshin, L. (2010). Combining discrete choice and informed sensory testing in a two-stage process: Can it predict wine market share? Food Qual. Pref. 21: 741-754. (click here to order).
Osidacz P. , Geue J., Bramley B, Siebert T., Capone D., Francis L. (2010) Exploring the influence of pepper, eucalyptus and smoky flavour compounds on consumer preferences of red wines Technical Review 189, 8-11.
Osidacz, P.C., Robichaud, J.A., Francis, I.L. (2010). Gan Bei! Wine drinking habits in China. Australia and New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker (565): 49-52. (click here to order).
Nygaard, M., Osidacz, P., Roget, W., Francis, L., Vidal, S., Aagaard, O. (2010) The effect of closure choice on consumer preference rating of wines: AWRI study series. Aust. N.Z. Grapegrower Winemaker 563: 55-60. (click here to order).
Osidacz, P.C., Francis, I.L. (2009) What the Chinese want WBM February; 58-61. (click here to order).
O’Brien, V. Francis, I.L. Osidacz, P. (2009) Packaging choices affect consumer enjoyment of wines. Aust. N.Z. Wine Ind. J. 24 5 :48-54 (click here to order).
Lockshin L., Mueller S., Louviere J., Francis L., Osidacz P. (2009) Development of a new method to measure how consumers choose wine Aust. N.Z. Wine Ind. J. March/April 24: 36-42 (click here to order).