The importance of green in Pinot Noir

18 August 2023 | News

PhD candidate Amalia Bernardes Borssato is getting a taste of how the terms ‘green’ and ‘herbaceous’ could affect consumers’ sensory responses and sentiments when it comes to New Zealand Pinot Noir.

The Sensory Scientist began her research after results from a New Zealand Winegrowers Pinot noir study suggested that the term ‘green/herbaceous’ could be perceived negatively, leading to major implications for producing and marketing this type of wine.

Amalia’s work is funded by the Bragato Research Institute, which recently completed its multi-year national Pinot Noir research programme aimed at diversifying the New Zealand wine industry and enabling the production of high-quality Pinot noir wines.

Lincoln University contributed significantly to her PhD project, providing support in every facet of her journey – from the initial exploration of the wine quality concepts to the intricacies of winemaking and wine tasting sessions.

Recently, Amalia delivered a talk on her first experiment outcomes, a questionnaire-based study, at the 17th NZOZ Sensory Symposium held in Wanaka, organised by the NZIFST and the University of Otago.

Her initial study investigated wine professionals’ and consumers’ understanding of the terms 'green' and 'herbaceous' when thinking about New Zealand Pinot noir wines aromas and flavours, which could have a significant impact on buying behaviours.

"The study considers the opinions of both wine experts and standard wine consumers, as previous research has indicated that people with varying levels of expertise can have different ideas about wine," she says.

According to the survey results, descriptions such as 'stemmy/whole bunch', 'fresh' and 'smoky' were perceived positively by experts and consumers alike, while both groups had negative perceptions about terms like 'reductive notes', 'tomato stalk', and 'fresh herbs/rosemary/sage/mint leaf'.

The initial outcomes suggest valuable insights for the wine industry by highlighting positive and negative sensory descriptors that can support marketing and high-quality product development strategies.

With data for her study still being collected and analysed, Amalia is excited about publishing a wider picture of her work soon.

Aside from sensory evaluations, chemistry data has been collected from both experimental and commercial wines, which can be associated with wine quality concepts through subsequent analysis.

According to Amalia, sensory studies exploring people’s thoughts and perceptions of wine phenomena allow researchers to access reliable information about wines and make inferences about their identity and commercial value.

It's the reason she became a Sensory Scientist in the first place, motivated by understanding individual mindsets and helping people to make smart, healthy choices about their food and beverage consumption.

"When completing my Master’s in food quality and consumption at the University of Campinas-Brazil, I used sensory evaluation methods to test different products like beverages, snacks and dairy products," Amalia says.

"I realised how powerful and unique the human senses are at helping the industry to reduce expenses and develop healthier, tastier products that make consumers happy."