Understanding consumer sensory perception of beer and wine body

Ivanova, Natalja (2023) Understanding consumer sensory perception of beer and wine body. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Changes in consumer preferences, health concerns associated with excessive alcohol consumption, governmental policies and environmental conditions have driven research efforts towards exploring and producing alcoholic beverages with reduced alcohol content, namely beer and wine. A highly desirable and widely accepted mouthfeel attribute in beer and wine with lower alcohol – body, is important for consumer appreciation, willingness to buy, and overall acceptance of beverages. Nevertheless, to date, the concept is ill-defined. With lower alcohol products described as imbalanced and thin, the development of beverages with high consumer acceptability is required. Research indicates there is growth in the volume of lower alcohol wines and beers being exported, thereby emphasising the importance of meeting market demand and emerging opportunities guided by the consumer.

Reviewed research strongly suggests that body is not simply a one-dimensional texture element but is a multi-dimensional sensory attribute. This research, therefore, aimed to (i) explore consumer language used to describe body of two beverage systems: beer and wine, in the UK and Australia; (ii) develop beers and wines varying in attributes found to be important for body using flavour chemistry and sensory techniques and (iii) evaluate the impact of the varied compositional factors on consumer body perception and acceptability. In order to achieve these aims, four studies were conducted.

Firstly, British consumers' understanding of beer and wine body was investigated using qualitative methods - Focus Groups and Free Choice Description. It was evident from this exploratory study that body involves several modalities, including flavour and mouthfeel. According to the consumers, other essential factors emerged related to the conceptual perception of beer and wine body, including aroma, appearance, and quality. It was also demonstrated that specific flavours for both beer and wine such as dark fruit (blackberry, cherry, plum), citrus and tropical fruit, Maillard reaction, cereal, and barrel-aged (chocolate, coffee, caramel, smoke, grain, roasted malt) for beer and oak for wine, and characteristics, such as velvety, smooth, and creamy were perceived to contribute to body.

As directed by the initial qualitative study, further three studies were designed to explore the significance of modified intensities of flavour and mouthfeel characteristics on the perceived body and overall liking of beer and wine. Model beers and wines were developed with manipulated composition to understand the contribution of the varying factors on body perception, sensory perception and liking. Furthermore, as suggested by qualitative research, various techniques to segment consumers were explored to understand if different groups of consumers perceive body using different sensory modalities. The perceived mouthfeel and flavour of the model beer were varied by the addition of ethanol (to increase alcohol by volume (ABV)), carboxymethyl cellulose (to increase instrumental viscosity), iso-α-acids (to increase bitterness) and hop oil extract (to enhance hoppy aroma) in a 0.05% ABV base beer. Results found that perceived viscosity was not a single characteristic that influenced beer body as ethanol and flavour (bitterness and hoppy aroma) were also found to be significant drivers. Cluster analysis based on body intensity ratings revealed three consumer clusters: those who placed greater importance on viscosity, those who appeared to focus on flavour and those who found alcohol to be the main body driver. Similarly, a study conducted with model red wine used a 0.05% ABV base wine with added ethanol (to 5.5% ABV), carboxymethyl cellulose, grape seed extract and a flavour blend (enhanced berry flavour) to explore the impact of varying alcohol warming sensations, perceived thickness/viscosity, astringency and flavour on body perception. Increasing the viscosity with carboxymethyl cellulose did not contribute to wine body. Instead, consumers perceived body intensity to be positively driven by ethanol and negatively correlated with berry flavour additions, whilst liking was driven by ethanol and carboxymethyl cellulose additions and negatively impacted by the enhanced berry flavour. Furthermore, using a statistical tool, namely Fine Wine Instrument, developed to segment consumers based on wine connoisseur, knowledge and provenance variables, it was also found that consumers are not homogenous when defining body as they placed differing levels of importance on different compositional factors. Three consumer segments, based on their wine-related knowledge and level of involvement, emerged: Wine Enthusiasts, Aspirants and No Frills.

Furthermore, the effects of various flavour enhancements on consumer body perception in different base wines were investigated, as the enhancement of berry flavour was found to negatively impact body perception in the previous study. Consumers reported that within red wines with full-strength alcohol (14.5% ABV), those that were enhanced with woody and savoury aromas were perceived as higher in body. In contrast, enhanced red fruit flavour negatively influenced the perception of body, confirming the hypothesis that different flavour profiles affect body positively and negatively.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Ford, Rebecca
Bastian, Susan
Wilkinson, Kerry
Yang, Qian
Keywords: mouthfeel, flavour, body, sensory, beer, wine
Subjects: T Technology > TP Chemical technology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences
Item ID: 72001
Depositing User: Ivanova, Natalja
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2023 04:40
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/72001

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