Last Thursday, I pulled out one of my favorite white wine types, a bottle of Chardonnay sur lie, for my friends coming for dinner. I like this wine because it has a creamy mouthfeel, subtle nutty, and caramel aromas without being overly oaky.
As you discovered last week, we all learn to like wine in our unique ways. The Chardonnay type I love might not be your favorite wine.
Research has shown that when specific flavors are present in a wine, they drive up or down how much you like a particular wine.
Did you know that there are many Chardonnay styles?
14 precisely as my colleagues and I identified after conducting a thorough evaluation of 100 wines in several days (1). Exhausting job!
The 14 Chardonnay Wine Styles (1)
Here is what the sensory scientists found.
After tasting 12 white wines from different regions, Canadian consumers expressed a strong preference for sweeter and fruitier wines as opposed to oaky and burning wines (2)
Two studies on Chardonnay showed that the fruity, spicy, and vanillin/oak aromas were essential for American consumers to like the wines (3).
I found through my research that when people like an oaky wine (red or white), they like the vanilla/oak flavor. However, when they do not like the oak character of a wine it’s often due to the smoky/oak flavor, which tend to reflect unpleasant sensory experience for consumers.
On Canadian Riesling wines, we found that people diverged in the white wine type they enjoyed most (3).
Three Sauvignon blanc wine types seemed to appeal to Australian consumers:
You might argue that these flavor differences come from the wine origins. It would be simpler to summarize the style people love by liking Old World wines versus New World wines. Indeed, Chardonnay, Riesling, or Sauvignon blanc from France, for example, are less fruit-forward, less sweet, less toasted oak than the wine styles produced in California or New Zealand.
Journalist Lettie Teague wrote recently, ‘Once, the division between Old World and New World wines was a whole lot clearer.’ Later she adds: ‘Shared winemaking and viticultural techniques have helped to merge the Old World and the New.’ (5)
Indeed Old and New World wine regions can produce similar wine type, like the Chardonnay wine I poured for dinner last week.
Therefore understanding the white wine types you like or your customers like remains an asset in your journey to become a better wine taster.
Published January 13, 2020
using this link
1. Lesschaeve I., Norris L.N., Lee T.H. (2002). Defining and targeting consumer preferences. In proceedings of the 11th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference. Pp 118-122. Blair R.J., Williams P.J. and Høj P.B. (eds). AWRI, Adelaide, SA.
2. Lesschaeve, I. , Bowen, A., Bruwer J. (2012). Determining the Impact of Consumer Characteristics to Project Sensory Preferences in Commercial White Wines. Am J Enol Vitic. December 2012 63: 487-493
3. Lesschaeve I., (2008). Wine consumer flavour preferences. In proceedings of the 1st Wine Active Compounds symposium, pp 71-74. Chassagne D., University of Burgundy (ed.), OenoPluriMedia, Chaintré, France.
4. King, E.S., Osidacz, P., Curtin, C., Bastian, S.E.P., Francis, I.L. (2011). Assessing desirable levels of sensory properties in Sauvignon Blanc wines – consumer preferences and contribution of key aroma compounds. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 17, 2, 169-180
5. Teague, L. 2020. When Worlds Collide: A Shifting Wine Map. The Wall Street Journal. Jan. 2 edition.