Judging Wine Quality: Do We Need Experts, Consumers or Trained Panelists?

The overall objective is to determine if quality can be reliably evaluated by wine consumers, wine aficionados and/or wine experts and what their quality scores actually mean relative to the intensities of the sensory attributes we get from trained panels, and the liking scores we get from wine consumers. To choose wines with different quality levels we used the judging scores assigned to 27 Cabernet sauvignon wines in the 2012 California State fair judging competition.

At this competition Cabernet wines are divided into 9 regions. Within each region we picked the wine with the highest score (usually a gold medal wines), the wine with the lowest score (a wine that did not medal) and then a wine with a score as close to the mean between the highest and lowest score. The 15 descriptive analysis panelists (10 males, 22-72 years old, average age 37 yrs, median 31 yrs, standard deviation 17 yrs) were recruited from the students, staff and faculty of the Departments of Viticulture & Technology, Food Science & Technology, and Aerospace Engineering. They participated in 6 1-hr training sessions to collect, generate and obtain consensus on 21 aroma, 3 taste and 3 mouthfeel attributes. Their evaluation of the wines, in triplicate will be complete on 2/7/13. The consumer hedonic evaluation, using the 9-point hedonic scale has been scheduled for February 2, 2013 – we are aiming to have about 192 participants and each participant would evaluate 6 wines. Thus each of the 27 wines would be evaluated by 42 or 43 consumers.