Wine experts don't agree

How you taste wine and rate its quality may depend on where you are in the world, says a new study from UBC and Concordia University.

Researchers from the two universities took two sets of wine experts — one from the Okanagan and another from the Montreal area — and had them taste the same set of wines.

The findings recently published in The Journal of Wine Research determined Okanagan wine experts gave higher scores when they detected spicy aromas, while the Montreal group detected more acidity, bitterness and balance.

During two 60-minute blind tasting sessions the panelists tasted seven bottles of red wine, evaluating each label on seven aroma and nine flavour attributes.

“Wine professionals in B.C. lean toward the U.K. education model — a certification called the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET),” said marketing professor at Concordia and study co-author Bianca Grohmann.

“Whereas the Quebec panel of experts came from the French sommeliers tradition and wine journalism. We see these differing education backgrounds and socio-cultural contexts as important influencing factors.”

Both panels agreed on the best bottle, giving the 2014 30 Mile Shiraz from Australia the best overall score.

The experts, however, were far apart on a bottle of 2015 Apothic Red from California. It was ranked dead last by the Montreal group and third by the Okanagan panel.

“That particular bottle of red is interesting because it’s engineered to convey good balance and taste, rather than being a pure wine from a vineyard,” says Grohmann. “The Montreal panel — perhaps more purist — was less forgiving. However, they were more tolerant of wine with faults and ‘off’-flavour perceptions.”

She said the difference of scores for the Apothic Red can be attributed to a clash of Old World versus New World wine tradition.

“For the marketing of wines, an awareness of differences in training, sensory assessments and subsequent consumer preferences is critical in either targeting distribution or direct marketing,” says Grohmann.

More Penticton News