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European consumer preference for wines made from fungus resistant grape varieties

Marc Weber et al., DLR Rheinpfalz, Neustadt - Germany

European consumer preference for wines made from fungus resistant grape varieties

Fungus resistant grape varieties (FRGV or PIWI) offer many benefits such as less pesticide use or premium prices for enhanced sustainability. Still, winemakers are concerned about inferior wine quality. This study evaluates how European wine consumers assess wines made from new FRGVs in comparison to traditional V. vinifera varieties. Most of them were grown in the same vineyard.

Four white (Calardis Blanc, Muscaris, Sauvignac, Cabernet Blanc) und three red (Satin Noir, Cabernet Cortis, Laurot) FRGV were compared to Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Muskateller, Cab. Sauvignon and Merlot. For each FRGV, different styles were vinified using standardized protocols. The 28 most representative wines were selected, including the V. vinifera equivalents. 72 wine experts assessed their overall quality and the wines were mailed in 30 ml bottles to 118 German, 32 Danish and 27 French consumers, including a standardised wine glass. In a “home use test” consumers evaluated hedonic liking in 6 sessions. All wines were characterized by descriptive analysis using a trained panel (n=19 J x 2 R).

All FRGV wines performed equally well as the V. vinifera wines. One consumer segment preferred yellow fruit and oaked white wines, which was linked to 12 h of skin contact. Consumers from all countries favoured tropical fruit aromas along with a sweetness (4-6 g/L sugar). Sauvignac and Cabernet Blanc wines from early harvest were rejected by consumers from all countries due to a vegetative flavour and sourness.

Consumer varied more regarding red wines. A large consumer segment preferred the fruity and less tannic thermo-vinified wines, especially of Satin Noir. In contrast, harsh and bitter tannins of Cabernet Cortis were refused. A second segment preferred dark coloured red wines, such as Laurot and Satin Noir. Particularly the Laurot wines had similar sensory profiles and hedonic ratings as Merlot, indicating a good FRGV substitute. Bleeding and use of oak increased consumer acceptance, especially in France. Rosé wines of all red cultivars were equally preferred by all consumers.

Due to equal preferences for FRGV and V. vinifera wines by consumers and experts, concerns regarding wine quality can be dismissed. FRGVs may be offered as more sustainable sensory “copies” of V. vinifera wines or in a completely different style using low intervention winemaking.

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Published on 09/07/2022
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