Testing the Sensitivity of Potential Panelists for Wine Taint Compounds Using a Simplified Sensory Strategy
McKay, M.; Bauer, F.F.; Panzeri, V.; Buica, A.
The odor detection threshold (ODT) of a compound is the lowest concentration at which individuals can reliably perceive a difference between a sample and its corresponding control, with 50% performance above chance. Wine is a complex matrix, and ODTs used in studies on wine can be based on inappropriate matrices and informal sensory methodologies. Formal studies confirming ODTs in wine are relatively scarce in the literature, and are complex and expensive to carry out. In this study, the sensitivity of panelists to previously published ODTs for five compounds: Guaiacol, o-cresol and 4-ethyl phenol, 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine (IBMP), and 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) associated with off-flavor/taint issues in wine, was investigated. The study was carried out in partially de-aromatized young Shiraz wine (unwooded) using a simplified version of the formal sensory approach. A triangle test in triplicate was carried out with 34 panelists, at the ODT for each compound, in one day. The study explored whether previous training affected panelists' sensitivity for threshold differences. Results showed that samples spiked with volatile phenols were significantly different (p = 0.01) to controls. The spiked TCA and IBMP samples were not significantly different from the control in either case. Judges were better able to detect compounds if they had prior experience or training in wine evaluation. Despite some limitations, this pragmatic approach may be useful when carrying out sensory studies with fairly limited resources and within tight timelines, as it provides helpful information on panel members and detection thresholds for a specific matrix.