New analysis pinpoints what makes a wine unique
GRASS may remind some of certain pastures. Vanilla and custard sound like pudding ingredients for a cold day. But while these aromas are not typically associated with drinking wine‚ a study has found that experts managed to use these descriptions among a total of 266 and 250 different aroma sensory words for South African Chenin blanc and Sauvignon blanc wines respectively.
The study explored sensory descriptions of Chenin wines with machine learning techniques.
Collectively‚ the wine varietals Chenin blanc‚ Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay hold the largest share (per volumes produced) in the local white wine category.
In this study‚ described as the first of its kind‚ researchers employed techniques that are usually used to analyse “big data” and pinpoint computer hackers‚ among others.
They used sensory descriptors of 7 000 local wines to visualise the sensory space of Chenin wines.
Scientists from Stellenbosch University’s Institute of Wine Biotechnology‚ the Faculty of AgriSciences and the Department of Information Science contributed to the study.
The researchers used a data visualisation technique known as formal concept lattices in combination with traditional statistical methods to visualise the sensory attributes of Chenin blanc and Sauvignon blanc wines.
This technique is normally used in information science and machine learning (a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building)‚ according to the university.
The researchers also considered the unstructured sensory data on 4 352 Sauvignon blanc wines published in the John Platter Wine Guide to South African Wines for the same period (2008-2014) to confirm their findings.
The total number of words used by Platter wine panellists to describe the 2 746 Chenin blanc wines in this study amounted to 38 403‚ and 71 892 words for 4 352 Sauvignon blanc wines.
Since the researchers were only interested in aroma attributes‚ they removed all non-sensory words from the original data set and eliminated duplicates.
A total of 266 and 250 different aroma sensory words were identified for Chenin blanc and Sauvignon blanc wines respectively.
These findings had important implications for South Africa’s Chenin blanc wine style labelling‚ the University of Stellenbosch said.