Sensory services

AWRI Commercial Services offers a range of sensory services. Expert sensory staff and highly trained sensory panels combined with world-class facilities allow solutions to be tailored to suit client needs.

The range of sensory services offered include::

  • Technical quality panel assessment
  • Difference test assessment
  • Rapid sensory methods
  • Quantitative descriptive analysis
  • Consumer preference studies
  • Smoke evaluation

A brief summary of each of these techniques is provided below. While wines are the most common products tested, these methods can be applied to other beverage types. For specific information on suitability, pricing and volumes required on all sensory services please contact (08) 8313 6600 or commercialservices@awri.com.au.


Type of analysis Cost excl. GST Volume requirements
(750 mL bottles, or equivalent)
Technical quality panel assessment $400 1
Difference testing $800
(per sample pair)
2 for each sample per test
(e.g. A vs B)
Rapid sensory methods Price available on request Dependent on the scope of the assessment.
Please contact AWRI Commercial Services for more details.
Quantitative descriptive analysis
Consumer preference testing
Smoke evaluation $300 2

Technical quality panel assessment
This sensory service is offered to allow an independent evaluation of a wine, providing indication of perceived quality level and presence of any taints or faults.

A panel of highly trained and experienced AWRI judges are instructed to comment on colour/condition, aroma and palate, scoring for general quality out of a maximum of 20 points according to the AWRI’s quality assessment scoring guidelines. The judges are also asked to assess the wines for the presence of any taint or fault, and if observed, to describe the taint/fault and rate its intensity

No information is provided to the tasters prior to the assessment, other than wine variety, vintage and, sometimes, the style of wine (if appropriate), so as not to influence the judges’ assessment.

The mean of the scores for general quality is calculated. All tasters’ comments and ratings are provided in a written report. Note that judgement of wine quality is subjective and depends on the individual judge’s physiology, background, experience and style preference.

For this type of assessment, a minimum of one 750 mL bottle (or equivalent) should be provided.

Consumer preference
Consumer testing, measuring liking for a set of wines using selected but untrained individuals, allows an understanding of the influence of sensory properties on acceptance. A relatively large group of consumers from outside the AWRI is recruited based on demographic and wine consumption criteria and rating for degree of liking is carried out under controlled conditions. Our experienced team even has the ability to run consumer testing in international markets.

Difference test assessment
A difference test procedure (such as a duo-trio, triangle, or paired comparison test) can be used for determining whether there is a perceptible sensory difference between samples of two products. Difference testing can be extremely useful for determining if different trial treatments or processing changes have had a sensory effect; for detecting differences in samples due to different storage or transport conditions; or if products have a suspected taint or fault, especially when a control is available. These sensitive tests use a large panel of judges and allow detection of differences that might not be observed using other sensory tests.

For these types of assessments, a minimum of two 750 mL bottles (or equivalent) of each sample are required for assessment. If multiple comparisons are required, please contact the AWRI Commercial Services team.

Rapid sensory methods
For a cost-effective evaluation of multiple samples, methods such as Pivot©Profilie and Projective Mapping (Napping©) are useful. These approaches are especially appropriate for screening products with different sensory properties.

Pivot©Profile is a rapid, frequency-based descriptive method that can provide reliable insights into the characteristics of a set of products. Assessors use an identified ‘pivot’ (control) sample as a reference for comparing all the other samples in a group for appearance, aroma and palate attributes. The Pivot©Profile method is simple to perform in a single session and generates meaningful data that shows how the products differ from each other.

Projective Mapping (or Napping©) is another rapid sensory method, which offers a holistic way of differentiating multiple samples from one another. Assessors are asked to evaluate the samples in a set and separate them on a two-dimensional space based on how similar or different they are from one another. Judges can also provide short descriptions for each of the groups. This method is recommended for smaller sample sizes.

For these methods, a minimum of two 750 mL bottles (or equivalent) of each sample should be provided for assessment.

Quantitative descriptive analysis
This powerful method produces a sensory profile for a set of products from blind, replicated rating of a set of appearance, aroma and flavour attributes by a panel of sensitive and highly trained assessors. It is recommended for larger sample sizes and where detailed understanding of sensory properties is needed. Sensory profiles are highly valuable in many applications. In combination with other services, this method can be used to relate a product’s attributes to chemical analysis measures or even consumer preference. Of the descriptive sensory procedures offered, this type of test is the most complex to conduct and provides the greatest amount of in-depth quantitative information. Please contact AWRI Commercial Services for volume requirements and any questions regarding this method.

Smoke evaluation
When vineyards and grapes have been exposed to smoke, this can result in wines with undesirable sensory characters, such as ‘smoky’, ‘burnt’, ‘ashy’ or ‘medicinal’, usually described as ‘smoke tainted’. The ‘Sensory impact of smoke exposure’ fact sheet provides sensory thresholds for smoke taint compounds and additional information about the sensory effects of smoke taint in wine. More detailed information about smoke taint is available from the AWRI’s smoke taint webpage.

To assess whether a wine has a perceptible smoke character, a specialised screened, qualified and trained smoke sensory panel rates the intensity of smoke aroma and flavour in duplicate, under blind conditions. The results are analysed by comparison to a control sample, to determine if the samples are statistically different. It is recommended that this sensory evaluation be accompanied by chemical analysis to determine the concentration of volatile phenols and non-volatile precursor compounds (glycosides). This assists with the interpretation of any perceived smoke character.

A minimum of two 750 mL bottles (or equivalent) of each wine should be provided for sensory analysis and an additional bottle for chemical analysis.